Autism Ambassadors

Autism Ambassadors cover

The Autism Ambassadors Handbook: Peer Support for Developing Soc and Academic Skills
Kukoff
2013

Submitter: This terribly ableist book is in the library of the university I graduated from. When I discovered it as an autistic student, I was livid. The author, an 18-year-old boy who is being treated as an expert despite his lack of qualifications, describes autistic people in the most alienating way possible (he actually says we sound as if we just stepped off a spaceship). He doesn’t consider that if a child screams or covers her ears, maybe she is hurt or scared by a loud noise. To him, this behavior is just evidence that she is socially oblivious. The author clearly hasn’t talked to many autistic adults. If he had, he’d know that we do NOT want to be “indistinguishable from our peers”, that stimming has an important purpose, and that autistic people want real friends, not assigned “friends” for whom we are a special school project.

Holly: This book actually got pretty good reviews on Amazon and GoodReads, but if someone experiencing autism is put off by it, that is a valid review too. I didn’t see any reviews from professional organizations or other authorities outside of Amazon and GoodReads (where literally anyone can review anything).

About the author

Autism Ambassadors excerpt

Autism Ambassadors rationale

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13 comments

  1. Wow, this guy really thinks he should get some kind of medal for not tying his cousin to a tree in the forest for the wolves to devour. He knows dear Flappy McAlien is very nearly almost human, and deserves….well, something, probably! After all, she eventually gave in to his endless pestering and ‘friendly’ corrections and now she’s very nearly indistinguishable from an actual person! Isn’t that awesome?!

    …Nope. Every flavor of nope. I was raised by a parent who is on the spectrum. Self-congratulatory ableist garbage like this makes me want to scream. There’s no reason for this book to exist, and certainly no reason to be taking up shelf space. People on the spectrum can tell their own stories far better than some random high school kid can.

  2. I was diagnosed with autism at age three.

    It’s not that I’m not interested in basic social decorum. It’s that I have trouble picking it up. To compensate, I’m overly polite and extremely unassertive to the point of being a doormat. After all, if I can never trust myself that I’m right, why not assume I’m always wrong?

    And any book that uses the phrase “social entrepreneur” needs to be weeded just for that reason.

    1. Any person that describes themselves as a “social entrepreneur” needs to weeded.

  3. my daughter was entering first grade and one of the more pretentious moms in the neighborhood was already pressing the administration about “what gifted and talented programs do you offer?” while our kids were standing around with their fingers up their noses. i get the impression that’s how the author was raised. count how many times he says “I, I, I, I” throughout his rationale. it reads as a resume-padding exercise for college admissions.

  4. I’m so sick (as are many others) of people who suddenly realise people who are in a category traditionally considered inferior to their own category of humanity are worthy of being treated well because they are somebody’s family member/daughter/sister etc. People have intrinsic worth in themselves and human rights outside of who they are related to. Should people in children’s homes or institutions or who are isolated from family and society be abused because they are not a member of a family, a spouse, partner or beloved friend? Sadly society often does decide who is a ‘true’ victim worthy of justice and who pretty much asked for it by living on the edge of society, being in a disadvantaged group or not fitting in, based on this sort of attitude.

  5. Good grief! Anybody still short of toilet paper? You can use this load of pretentious, self-congratulatory twaddle!

  6. “Once upon a time there was a boy named Zak Kukoff, and he almost deserved it.”

    You know that “ABA Therapy” thing he praises? Here’s everything an e-zine by autistic people for autistic people has to say on it: https://neuroclastic.com/category/justice/ableism/aba-therapy/

    Notice the part where it’s a sub-section of their (rather extensive) “Ableism” category. The magazine was also previously known as “The Aspergian”*, which you might remember publishing an article where they address the fact that ABA “therapy” is frequently compared to dog training by getting an actual dog trainer to weigh in… by angrily declaring that she would never treat a dog like that.

    * Not sure when the name change happened, but the reason for the change was probably because it turns out the original Dr Asperger was a Nazi collaborator and quite into eugenics.

    1. A past therapist mentioned on the side that Asperger’s was folded into autism because of the popular impression that Asperger’s = brilliant+awkward but autism = hopeless drooling. Having a name for one part of the spectrum probably would have gotten it phased out anyway.

  7. I am autistic as well and this book makes me sick.
    P.S: I know you didn’t mean wrong, but we are autistic, not “experiencing autism” . This formulation is hurtful.

  8. A “social entrepreneur”. Sounds like a way of saying he makes money off of people he knows. Which is sort of true.

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