How would you describe yourself?
A: I am God’s child, and I try my best to be a good citizen. I love my family and home. A time I treasure is visiting beaches and walking through parks. Another favorite is fancy coffee drinks. Because my sounding voice is broken, I am Sarah the typer with autism.
What influences your work?
A: I hope to make schools a better place for students with autism and other developmental disabilities. They are real people worth knowing whose bodies simply work differently. They can be good friends and citizens. But when I attended school, I often felt sad to be misunderstood because of the weird things I needed to do.
To belong, we need to feel valued as we are, with our disabilities, and not be asked to pretend to be normal. Being asked to hide who we really are hurts.
I like to send messages of hope and understanding from the real people who are inside bodies that work differently.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
A: When I was eight and the world heard my silent typing voice, I became a real person. With writing I am alive. When I write I am not held back at all. I can be anyone or anything, and I can go new places with new ideas. For me, writing is power and freedom. Writing is what I need.
What was the most difficult part of going to school?
A: Wished to hope for a cure, but autism stayed. When I tried to stop my weird ways, others were happy, but I was in pain. Autism is not a choice. I can’t breathe posing as normal. Autism places me as different and differences are feared. Autism is not welcome. Autism is to be hidden to please schools. Don’t ask us to be you when we experience the world differently.
Where is your favorite place to write?
A: A place I love to write is my cozy kitchen booth. I know its sights and sounds well, so autism can rest there. Time spent typing and planning and dreaming pleases me. Paper holds my words that reach out to you from my world of silence and loneliness.
What does the Beast metaphor in “Paul and his Beast” mean?
A: Autism’s weird behaviors can scare you when you see a regular-looking person but not regular behavior. It’s like coming upon a strange Beast! You don’t stay or get to know a Beast. You run!
Parents and teachers care about the person with autism so they try training them to stop the Beastly behaviors and ask them to pose as normal.
Without the protection of these behaviors, though, there is no shield from noises, sights, touches, and smells that can hurt and confuse people with autism. And because the strange behaviors are no longer there to protect, the Beast will eventually roar. But once you realize that roaring Beasts are actually protective shields, you may learn to respect their roles rather than recoil.
Do you enjoy being a blogger?
A: Yes, I feel most comfortable having computer friends because, although I am polite with my thoughts, my in-person self does what it pleases and cannot always behave nicely.