Its 2017… Where is the hype for disabilities in young adult books

Disclaimer this post will mainly focus on Autsim in books as this directly relates to me as I have a brother that is on the spectrum and I’m able to see good rep from bad (most of the time all situations differ) but I do know that we need more hype for ALL disabilities that are in our everyday life that aren’t spoken about enough.

My voice is small, my platform is small, I am grateful for every one of my friends I’ve made online blogging and being in the book community but I have a few things to say.

I have been loving the diverse books we’re getting this year, the own voice stories come to life, the great representation of LGBTQA and the inclusion of different races other than your cookie cutter white skinned blue-eyed main character, but where is the hype for books with great disability rep?

Where are the big bloggers and booktubers yelling about how good this book was staring Autism, the twitter count downs about when a the preorder is going to be in our hands finally, the people commenting on an insta pic saying they can’t wait to get their hands on a book where the main character has autism and kicks ass on the daily?

“If I could snap my fingers and be nonautistic, I would not. Autism is part of what I am.” ― Temple Grandin.pngI see so many great posts that give recommendations for POC  and LGBTQA reads but will rarely see a post that recommends me a book that has a disabled character.

Where are my twitter threads about the stigma surrounding disabilities and why YA books are all able-bodied asides from a small amount of contemporaries, where’s my Sci Fi staring a character with Autism? Where’s my Fantasy book with a character on the spectrum? Where’s my horror that DOESN’T portray the disability to be evil. Where is the outrage of disability stigma and the media feeding off disabled people and labelling them as dangerous or using them as their villain?

I can do only so much as one small voice, I can shout and shove books in people’s faces but the real influence comes from all of us and yes bloggers/booktubers with a larger fan base. And why don’t they talk about Autism in literature? Why is it such a tough subject to touch on? Because people who aren’t directly affected or know anyone who has autism are scared to speak up but we need to raise our voices if we can ever lift this stigma.

autism 2.png

My brother is on the spectrum, he was diagnosed at 4 years old, he’s non verbal and will be dependent on us, his family for the rest of his life. He is not able to speak for himself, he is not able to wipe the look off people face when they stare in public, he is not able to stop people’s uneducated comments like “oh but he’s so handsome he doesn’t look autistic” seriously what does Autism look like? I use to get mad at these people (I still do but I’m working on it) but it’s not from them being assholes on purpose(although there is the exception) it’s from them being uneducated, from people not speaking about Autism openly and often, it’s from not seeing it accurately represented in media like young adult books or when it is a good representation the book is still so underrated.

Why are there barely any books that feature a female main character with Autism that is hyped? Where is my hyped book that has a POC character on the spectrum? Where is my hype for LGBTQA rep for a character on the spectrum?

It’s lost, it’s lost in a sea of books that are half the story, it’s lost because people don’t understand or recognise how underrepresented disabilities are. For all the own voice and POC & LGBTQA reps and people actively working on getting these stories into the hands of readers I ask you to make sure you spread your diversity and engage your audience to read more books that shine light on what it is like to have a disability too, what it is like to face the stigma and not be able to make your own voice known, what it is like to raise a child with Autism, what it is like to have a brother and sister with Autism, what we face everyday from people being uneducated, the struggles, the laughter, the frustration.

I also ask everyone to educate yourself on lives that are different from yours, to learn more about disabilities that you don’t know much about to be an advocate for all diverse narratives and not only the ones that are easy to talk about. Yes talking about disabilities can be difficult as you don’t want to offend but if you’re trying and you’re educating yourself it’s okay to make mistakes. You haven’t had the direct experience others have but you’re still speaking up for voices in need and I know I and a lot of people appreciate that.

I want people to advocate and speak up for those who can’t do it themselves, I want people to read about stories that are different to their own so they can better understand, I want people to not get weird when I mention my brother has Autism (and no one in the book community has but it does happen, people get awkward and change the subject it’s a strange thing but that’s what not talking about disabilities has done) This post isn’t about talking about Disabilities more then other narratives but it’s about spreading awareness that a lot of the larger bloggers are helping POC voices, LGBTQA voices be heard and I’d love to listen to them shout about disabilities too and not shy away.

Think back to your diverse posts and books on your shelf and how diverse they are, are they only LGBTQA and POC? THIS IS OKAY it’s okay if the books on your shelf are all smutty romances featuring pirates the beauty of reading is reading what you want! But just think about reading even more diversely and talking about disabilities because I for one would love to have people understand myself, my mums, my dads, and most importantly my brothers story.

Talk about disabilities, break through the stigma and be a voice for all diverse narratives not just the popular ones.

You know what I would love more than anything? A book with a LGBTQA, POC character that has Autism and I want them to be in the world kicking ass and battling monsters, saving lives, and finding love.

Thank you for everyone who read this, thank you for all the diverse book bloggers who are out there, I know I mention I don’t see enough people recommending disabilities in lit but I’d like to add yes there are people actively pushing and sharing but they don’t get enough recognition for the work they do in this community, thank you to everyone that supports and shouts about diverse narratives and neurodiverse books and thank you to all the own voice writers creating beautiful amazing stories with disabled, LGBTQA, POC characters that brighten my heart and bookshelf.

I’d also like to say that this year one of my personal goals have been to read more books with diverse casts not only because these books deserve to be supported and I’m sick of the same stories over and over but because if I want more people to read books centering around disabilities and other diversities then of course I must as well, I must say nearly all the books I’ve read this year have been 4-5 stars and I can attribute it to new refreshing and diverse stories.


This wouldn’t be a good post if I didn’t include at least one recommendation, this post is already really long so I’ll just leave you with the one for now:

31375784.jpg Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBTQA, Autsim, Love, Hate to love, Messy families, love, frustration, love. This book is everything I’m searching for and I would like 10 more like this please.

Chloe Mitchell, a Los Angeles girl on a quest to find love for her autistic sister, Ivy. Ethan, from Ivy’s class, seems like the perfect match. It’s unfortunate that his older brother, David, is one of Chloe’s least favorite people, but Chloe can deal, especially when she realizes that David is just as devoted to Ethan as she is to Ivy.

Uncommonly honest and refreshingly funny, this is a story about sisterhood, autism, and first love. Chloe, Ivy, David, and Ethan, who form a quirky and lovable circle, will steal readers’ hearts and remind us all that it’s okay to be a different kind of normal.

Again thank you for reading this post, leave me recommendations, thoughts, questions, really anything you like in the comments I am always open to talk more on this subject and will be focusing a lot on promoting own voice diverse reads this year. 

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40 thoughts on “Its 2017… Where is the hype for disabilities in young adult books

  1. I am a double amputee. I was born with what is known as FFD Focal Femur Deficiency. Basically one leg was shorter than the other. I had my left leg amputated when I was a year and a half and my righty leg when I was 11 or 12. I wish there were more books that talked about different disabilities. Being a disabled person myself I would love to be able to read something that resonates with me on a more personal level. I loved your post and I agree with every word of what you said!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have never even heard of FFD(just had to do some research then) I would love to read a book that resonates with you as well so I can learn more and so others can learn too, I’m in the search for more books that talk about different disabilities but it’s very far and few between and it’s just really disappointing at times 😦 Not everyone is white, straight and able bodied so I don’t see why this is the default in our media 😦

      I’m so happy you liked my post I have plans to search for books that represents all types of disabilities so I’m definitely adding a character with FFD to my list and if you have any recs let me know, hopefully some wonderful writers are out there and willing to tell our stories.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Unfortunately I don’t think I have ever read a book that talked about amputation before and I am new to the whole reading diversely I am new to reading period but I am trying to read more diversely. If I come across any books with disabilities I will definitely let you know. Also if you have any recommendations I would love to here them.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I haven’t either but I’ll definitely look for some and let you know about it, I read Strings by David Estes and it has a love interest that was born with a disease which caused his leg muscles to atrophy and him to go from crutches to a wheel chair but his disability isn’t really a focal point, it was nice to read about a love interest that was different to the “norm” and still one of the heros though 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

            1. I have read that one but felt like his disability was used as more of a plot point then great representation, I really liked the book when I read it but I wasn’t really thinking about how his disability was represented because I was a bit ignorant to it all.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. I really liked it. His disability is completely different then mine but we had some similarities. I am in a wheelchair and some of the feelings he had were similar to mine. Like the feeling of being embarrassed to go out because of people pointing and staring.

                Liked by 1 person

                1. Thats awesome then 😀 Have you read the second book? I’ve been putting it off because there’s no Will in it so I don’t know how much I’ll like it.

                  I’m actually looking through my tbr and there’s A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman which has been on my tbr for ages mainly because I wanted to read a book set and published in India but I just realised the mc is also an amputee.

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  2. This is an amazing post! There needs to be more books centered around disabilities. The shift towards greater diversity in books is so beautiful to me and I so agree with all you say in this post! I’d love to read a book centered around autism. I really wish there was more representation across all genres, thank you for this post. Thank you for caring.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree this year I don’t know if it’s my eyes that have just been open and searching more but the diverse books we are getting have made me so happy and I want/need more 🙂

      Thank you for reading! I’m so glad you liked my post I was actually really nervous about hitting publish so it means a lot.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for this post! I am also trying to be better about reading diversely this year, and this post was a great reminder that I need to read more than POC and LGBT+ diversity. Things I Should Have Known looks amazing! And I’m in the same place–I’ve been reading more diverse books this year and they are so refreshing and incredible.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve always liked more indie books or under appreciated books which tend to be more diverse then you normal YA but last year I read mostly hyped books and while I loved some of them I was getting sick of seeing the same characters over and over (there’s a reason one actress can play in all the movie adaptations XD) It’s so good to have a diverse cast, with disabilities, and more LGBTQA stories. I’m really excited for Queens of Geek which is diverse cast, LGBTQA cast, and has a character with Aspergers it’s everything I could ask for really!

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  4. I agree so much. I’d love to read a book where the character happens to have autism, but the whole story isn’t about autism. I have run programs with teens with autism, and I’ve heard this from them too – I’ve been asked so many times ‘do you know any music or books with autism that aren’t about autism?’ And I hate that I have no answer for them, and that the best I can do is tell them to write some themselves. And this goes for all sorts of other disabilities too. I’ve been seeing more and more in kid’s picture books, but it hasn’t seemed to crossed over into YA yet.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Completely agree! I have a few on my to be read list that are supposed to be a book where the character and plot isn’t all about autism but just incorporates it like the real world does but we’ll see how good they actually are.
      The one book I’ve read and really enjoyed that I thought incorporated autism well without making it the whole story was Are You Seeing Me by Darren Groth its very much about character growth as an adult so there is a lot of issues like dependent housing or staying with family discussed but it’s a heap of fun to read.
      I’ve found a fair few contemporaries that have main characters with autism but we need more Fantasies and Sci-fi’s too.

      A book that I’m really looking forward to reading is On The Edge of Gone by Corrine Duyvis who took the advise of writing it herself, a book about someone with autism going into post apocalyptic space, written by someone on the spectrum? I can’t wait to read it!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. As someone who has high functioning autism, I really appreciate this post. I try to write in characters in my books who are like me, but I always find it to be self serving and scrap the idea, or I make them an important supporting character. But yeah, I really wish there were more characters in fiction in general who were autistic, but not portrayed in the two most common ways: the classic prodigy, or non verbal. I wish that there were more characters similar to me; possibly fairly good at something, but just can’t communicate well. So yeah, thanks for this post! And I now have a book recommendation!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really appreciate you liking it thank you 🙂
      I wish the exact same thing, everytime I read a book staring a character with Autism it’s usual follows along the lines of what is easiest to write and doesn’t take to much thought outside the comfort zone I won’t pick up a book that has the prodigy character unless it comes highly recommended I mean yeah sure people with Autism can be prodigy’s but seriously every single book? Where’s the able person that’s a prodigy because they exist too 0.0

      A book I’d recommend as well is Are You Seeing Me by Darren Groth one of the main characters has high functioning autism and its really well done, his voice is one of my favourites I’ve read.

      Everyones their own worst critic! I’d love to check out some of your work *off to stalk your page now* 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know! I’m a far cry from a prodigy, so it gets frustrating after a while. I’d appreciate a high functioning autistic character who has sensory problems and communication problems. I feel as though that’d be much more realistic than prodigies. Like, I know a few autistic prodigies. But they’re not as common as some think. I have nothing against prodigies in fiction with autism, but man, there are varying levels on the spectrum…and yeah! There are able people who are prodigies. (Whispers, Matilda, by Roald Dahl).
        Ooh, I’ll have to check that out, too! (My reading list is so long, oh my…😅)
        Haha, I also write more fiction on Wattpad now than here…I have more lists and articles on WordPress, but I do have some old fiction. (I need to write more).

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I was supposed to update wattpad the other day I need to re download it, I have so many tbr books on there that I’m ignoring them for now XD BUT I will add yours to the ever growing pile what’s it called on Wattpad? I’ll look it up 🙂
          I need to write more too, I keep starting and getting stuck at the 5k mark and then scrapping it, but I haven’t been writing outlines so this might be a problem too.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. I honestly can’t think of any books featuring autism, which is extremely disheartening? I mean there is A Step Towards Falling but I’m not sure the rep in that is entirely positive? It didn’t address a certain thing that happened and brushed it under the rug, which I felt undermined one of the autistic characters a bit. I can only think of PJO which features ADHD. But no more autism recs! Thank you for this post, it was absolutely amazing and I 100% agree with you!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I haven’t heard of that one but it sounds like a bit of a bummer if none of the problems were properly resolved 😦

      Thank you for reading the post! Seriously most people don’t have a tonne of books that feature a mc with Autism, I don’t even have that many but hopefully with more people talking about diversity in lit and the inclusion of more disabled narratives we can add more to our shelves 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes me too, I hope for sure!
        There was a positive spin on the narrative which I liked, but yah there was a sexual assault and it got acknowledgement but not a lot of closure? It was a meh book.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. This really resonated with me, though on a different platform. I loved your line: “I also ask everyone to educate yourself on lives that are different from yours.” This is so true and what better way for this to happen than in books which can delve into the matter in story format? One series I read which has a character with autism (she becomes a main character – Mel) is a series by Emily McKay – The Farm. Though, to be honest, you have to be into the vampire-genre for this one and I’m iffy on Mel’s storyline.

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    1. I think so too, how are people meant to learn about lives that aren’t like there’s if they have no exposure? I think media like books and TV are so important in these situations and sadly they don’t do enough for people that aren’t white, straight, abled bodied people.
      I haven’t been to into the vampire scene for a while but I do occasionally read it, I’ll definitely check it out! I don’t think I’ve ever read a paranormal story with a character that has Autism so it will be pretty interesting 😀
      (again so sorry for the late reply seems like my wordpress is playing up and marking you as spam 😦 )

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Fantastic post Casey! Thank you so much putting this out there and sharing your personal story as someone with a brother who has Autism. I agree we need more books with characters with disabilities. I haven’t read a YA book with a character with autism, or that is on the spectrum, BUT I have read an amazing children’s picture book called My Brother Charlie by Holly & Ryan Peete. I’ve heard good things about The Peculiar Miracles of Antoinette Martin by Stephanie Knipper… it is an adult book though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m happy there are children’s books that are so diverse! I’ll have to look out for them and buy them for my Niece 😀 I haven’t heard of The Peculiar Miracles of Antoinette Martin but just checked it out and it sounds interesting. Thanks Amanda I’m glad you liked the post!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. This was a really great post! I myself couldn’t care less about being LGBTQ or having a “disability”. The only thing wrong with a person would be there ability to love. Rowling said Remus Lupin and him being a werewolf was a metaphor for AIDS, but any more than that books are really lacking

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  10. Brilliant post! It’s definitely a necessary and important conversation to be having, so thank you for that. Education and awareness is the cornerstone for understanding and empathy. I think I actually have a copy of Things I Should Have Known, I’ll definitely bump it up on my TBR 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. After reading Queens of Geeks I’d actually recommend that over Things I should’ve known it is an amazing story as shows ASD in a character in such a seemless way + it’s own voices 🙂

      I agree so much that education and awareness = understanding and empathy, if no one is ever around or see’s disabilities represented positively in the media how will they ever learn anything about it and break the stigmas down? It’s not people fault for being uneducated we need more info in school and in our general media.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Love this blog post. Thank You! I just wrote a book about Autism about our two Autistic sons that I feel is a wonderful story. However, in my case, I sense early on my book is being bypassed by reviewers and not considered to be read because perhaps nobody wants to hear the truth. And the truth is I feel many people still do not care about the Autistic. Many persons still see them as flawed and worthless. Many persons rather read about other more interesting things. May persons see Autism as not their issue.

    Or do many persons assume that since I do not have “best seller” or Dr. Credentials plastered over my book cover, or because I am not a recognizable author name as I am a new author, that my book must be junk? That would make assumptions of course, just as its stereotypical to assume that those with Autism cannot be super in many ways, or that parents of those with Autism cannot have just as much if not more wisdom than the medical community. Hopefully, readers will see my book dispells those myths.

    Well, we love our sons so much that not only do we and will we fight for their rights in changing systems, but we see all the good in them and want to be there for them minute-by-minute also in educating them our way, and not pushing them off to an educational system to act as a babysitter, as we love who they are and cannotbput them in an educational facility that lumps them together and does not consider their individual strengths, struggles, desires and needs.

    Our two sons are our superheroes, and so I am sorry I have not written yet a fictionalized book about that and chose a nonfiction attempt at fighting for our Autistic children and their rights instead, and as my strength is analysis of real life human behaviors and societal issues, but please believe if anyone here read my 302 page book that was just written, you will not be disappointed, as who knows maybe you can see a Dad as a superhero, too, for going against the grain and really caring about doing the right things.

    We need honest reviews about our story though prior to our book being released in a week, to encourage more readers to see our great message: to not only understand better, but to accept, appreciate and respect those with Autism, and for society to help make a positive difference for them and their caregivers. And so I would gladly send my book FREE to anyone who loves Autistic persons and really knows about Autistim or wants to know about Autism, so as we can get reviews to encourage more others in society to ACT.

    Our email is dandafaw@yahoo.com. Our website is http://www.aspectrumoflight.com

    Thank You for your consideration in reviewing our story. If you would love a copy of our book, let us know the file format best for you, and we would love to immediately send it. Keep up the great blogging!

    David

    Liked by 2 people

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