One: Jennifer Byde Myers
Two: Shannon Des Roches Rosa
Three: Carol Greenburg
Since 2010, I have had the honor of working with these three women (and some other wonderful people who've been a part of the editorial group in the past) to help build a network around one of the most controversial sociocultural issues of our time: autism. As we approach our fourth anniversary of working together as a team, I felt I should honor that association and the resource we've built. What follows is my personal observation and not an official statement from the Thinking Person's Guide to Autism (TPGA) team.
From the beginning, our attitude has been that autism shouldn't be controversial; that autistic people deserve respect, understanding, acceptance, and love; that it is just that simple. It's not easy to run a site and moderate a community that is so divisive while driving home a message that some people struggle to grasp or even find offensive or exclusive. It takes an ability to keep focused on a goal, to brush off attacks and setbacks, and to rely always on our collective moral compass that tells us what's right about respecting the personhood of autistic people and what that looks like. It also requires recognizing that everyone brings their pain to this table and that forgiveness and understanding are the fuels that further the conversation and move us forward.
Among the four of us, we have different ways of communicating this message, some of us more gently (ahem, Jen) than others. Some of us are autistic, some of us are BAPpy, and one of us is neither (ahem, our beloved Jen). But collectively, we're honest, candid, forgiving, good, empathetic, self-reflective, and always, always focused on putting autistic people first and taking an evidence-based approach to answering questions.
TPGA can be an uncomfortable place for some people because social change is an uncomfortable process. Some folks aren't in the right frame of mind to listen and take action in forwarding that process. That's something we understand because we all arrived where we are now from very different starting points. As far as I'm concerned, I'll be here when those still on that journey eventually arrive. I hope my three reasons for being with TPGA are still around, too, because they truly are some of the best people I know, and anyone else would be lucky to have them touch their lives.