Welcome to the first issue of Room to directly recognize those of us who socialize, learn, pay attention, feel, and think outside of “normal.” In these pages, luminous writers and artists challenge what neurotypical readers may think they know about experiences with autism, brain injury, ADHD, anxiety, mental illness, and all kinds of cognitive differences.
My neuroatypicality makes me strange in most social situations, so lines like, “My favourite computer games were those in which you assemble normal people from a bin of parts,” from A. Light Zachary’s powerful opening poem, resonate deeply with me, as do, “A makes people wonder why I won’t look them in the eyes,” from Ottavia Paluch’s litany about her brain, “She felt the space open up inside her, grey and full of light and perfect crystal pain,” from Sarah Williams’ fictional imagining of Saint Catherine, and “I’ve learned to deal with uncertainty by creating the illusion of structure,” from Emi Sasagawa’s essay about her experience with the English language, and too many others to list here.
Of course, there are so many intersections where neuroatypical writers diverge and diverge again. In our BackRoom interview, Lydia X.Z. Brown brings a manifesto of urgent changes needed for autistic people of colour. In our commissioned story, Lindsay Wong revisits the Woo-Woo of her family, infused with her signature grim wit observations and compassion.
I want to thank the collective readers and our 43.3 team, including Managing Editor Jessica Johns, Reviews Editor Leah Golob, Designer Monica Calderon, and Shadows Angelica Poversky and Karmella Cen Benedito De Barros. I especially thank the latter for her care and feedback on this issue, and her brilliant interview with Terese Marie Mailhot where they discuss the stigma of diagnoses and the mixed messages of being considered both too much and not enough. As Mailhot tells her, “the thing people tried to stifle was the thing I needed to amp up.”
Reader, the stories and poems ahead don’t stifle. They amp up the truth about torments, triumphs, and day-to-day differences that often leave us looking in from outside. Here, everyone is invited in…
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