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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Department of English


Upward Bound: Collected Stories


The CDC currently reports that 1 in 44 children have been identified on the autism spectrum. Most people think of quirky kids and savant skills when they think about autism, if they think of it at all. Some cruel professional came up with the terms high- and low-functioning to define the two ends of the autism spectrum. The autistics seen on TV or social media are on the high-functioning end: socially awkward, but verbal and able to exist in society. What about the autistics on the other end of the spectrum? The nonspeakers, the behavioral challenges, the kids who are segregated out of the neurotypical school population, never to be seen again? What happens to those profoundly autistic kids when they age out of the school system and become adults? This matters to me because I am profoundly autistic and nonspeaking. I saw firsthand what the system had in mind for my future. It was an adult day care facility where I would be babysat so that society would be safe from me. I defied that outcome by learning to point at a letterboard to communicate. Spelling allowed me to defy expectations and has given me the means to tell the stories from inside that center. My stories are the voices of Upward Bound, a fictional day care center for autistic adults. Each story is from a different perspective: clients, staff, director. This collection is dedicated to my autistic peers who have not yet been given the tools to communicate.

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