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Lions Roar : January 2016
Your book has been lauded for its compas- sion. Did your Buddhist practice play a role in the creation of this book? Absolutely. It’s difficult for me to separate my involvement in Buddhism from my involvement in the life of Allen Ginsberg, who was my mentor and introduced me to Buddhism. One of the things I picked up from Allen’s work was the moral obligation to give a voice to the underdog, and specifi- cally for people in institutions. I learned that as poets or journalists we should attempt to give a voice to the voiceless, and we have to do a lot of reporting to do that effectively. My book is also an expression of the tra- ditional Jewish mission of tikkun olam— “to heal the broken world.” These come together with my interest in neuroscience and my personal life as a gay man. My form of loving and making connections with people was listed as a mental illness in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders until 1973. What got it out was not that science suddenly dis- covered homosexuality was okay. It’s that gay people made a loud enough noise that psychiatrists could no longer bullshit about homosexuality being a mental disorder. Similarly, autistic people are now speak- ing up and changing the way professionals, governments, and society understand the autism spectrum. Autistic people are taking control of their own narrative and founding organiza- tions like the Autistic Self Advocacy Net- work, which influences the formulation of public policy about autism. I feel my book is a transitional bridge from the time when only clinicians and parents could define what autism was to a time when autistic people can define their own lives and speak for themselves. What we now need to do is let autistic people tell us what they need and where the science should go. One helpful way of judging the science is asking autistic people how they feel about a study or a suggestion for a kind of therapy—because they’re the experts at what it’s like to live an autistic life in a world that isn’t built for them. ♦ VISIT US ONLINE | STORE.LIONSROAR.COM Our ONLINE STORE is your source for high quality art prints, including Thich Nhat Hanh’s “I have arrived, I am home.” You’ll also find back issues and t-shirts. INSPIRING CALLIGRAPHIES BY Thich Nhat Hanh INSPIRING CALLIGRAPHIES BY INSPIRING CALLIGRAPHIES BY INSPIRING CALLIGRAPHIES BY Every purchase supports the work of the PHOTOVELCROWRIPPER Calligraphies above are licensed reproductions of originals by Thich Nhat Hanh, © Unified Buddhist Church, Inc. All rights reserved and copies and derivatives of any kind or nature are strictly prohibited without prior permission in writing from the Unified Buddhist Church, Inc. SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2016 16