Ralph James Savarese's essay “River of Words, Raft of Our Conjoined Neurologies” (2012) provides an eloquent and moving account of how his autistic son D. J. emerged into literacy. As he learned to read, D. J. experienced extreme, often painful identifications with literary and historical figures. Like Harriet Tubman, he saw himself engaged in a type of “political freedom fighting” (43) on behalf of those, like himself, who can't speak and instead type to communicate. Much as I loved the essay, I was dismayed to find that D. J. described this group of autistics as oppressed by the mistaken presumption that they are “retarded” (45). I am the parent of a child with Down syndrome, and the ugly word “retarded” never fails to hit me like a slap in the face. I could understand D. J.'s resistance to being branded with that stigma and his own need, as a child...

Article PDF first page preview

Article PDF first page preview
Article PDF first page preview
You do not currently have access to this article.