Tag Archives: Unstrange Mind

Sparrow Rose Jones’ E-Book

Sparrow Rose Jones wrote an e-book No You Don’t: Essays From an Unstrange Mind that is now available on Amazon.  The title comes from a powerful essay she wrote on her blog – Unstrange Mind –  in response to the many parents who have told her how they would like nothing more than to have their autistic child grow up to be like her.  Sparrow writes:

“I used to say, “I hope she’s much better off than I am,” or simply, “no, you don’t,” but over time I learned that parents refuse to accept that answer.  Maybe they think I’m doing that social thing where someone compliments you and you are expected to refuse the compliment a time or two, finally accepting it but maintaining your veneer of humility.  Or maybe they’re just baffled.  But sometimes they even got angry so I finally learned that I should answer, “thank you.  That’s very kind of you to say.”  Reinforced behavior — reinforced by social censure if I dare give the wrong response.”

Sparrow writes,

“… what I wish to come from this book:  a recognition of the shared humanity we all enjoy and a sense of connection among people coming together across a wide gap of experiential realities.”

And again from the essay – No, You Don’t:

“… they think, “my child is non-verbal.  My child goes to school and crawls around on the floor, meowing like a cat.  My child still wears diapers while all her same age peers have been toilet trained.  My child bites and hits people.  My child bites and hits herself.” And so on.

“Then they hear that I was many of those things, myself.  I was kicked out of the classroom for crawling on the floor and hiding under the tables.  My first grade teacher said I was “mentally retarded” and petitioned (successfully) to have me removed from her classroom.”

Further along she writes:

“I was raped.  I was abused — domestically and otherwise.  I was molested.  I was taken sexual advantage of.  I want you to teach your children to say no and I want them to know how to mean it and back it up when they say it.  I want you to teach your children to value themselves and I want you to teach them to own their bodies.”

Sparrow writes about how she lives in “crushing poverty”, how she has spent a great deal of time homeless, couldn’t keep a job,and was “unable to consistently keep a roof over my head or food to eat.

In her follow-up to her No, You Don’t essay she writes about the response she received because of it.  “There was a small group of people, though, who read my essay and became angry.”  She describes how she was attacked by parents of autistic children, “I felt like I was being punished for writing and all that compliance training kicked in as a result.  I closed down my blog.  I became physically ill from the stress and shame and ended up in the emergency room more than once as a result.

The next essay is called “Bullies, Bullying, and the Struggle to Speak My Heart”.  The first sentence of that essay is:

“Bullies have been one of the most constant things in my life.”

Sparrow writes:

“An Autistic kid who is behaving in a violent manner is an Autistic kid who is seriously suffering on a daily basis and needs a lot of help.  And being able to speak doesn’t always mean that a kid will be able to tell you what is wrong.”

There are too many wonderful essays in this e-book to quote in one short post.  Sparrow writes honestly with tremendous compassion for all of us.  She ends her beautiful collection of essays with this:

“May my journey of self-discovery inspire you to journeys of your own.  Where there is life, there is hope.  Autistic lives do not always look the way you might expect or hope they would look, but you must keep a sharp eye out for the tender flowers as you travel and you must understand that Autistics often bloom in surprising and exquisite ways.  Don’t try to shape us to your garden or we may wilt.  Enjoy and foster our own, unique beauty in all its fierce wildness and you will find your heart and your truest reward there.”

No You Don't