A light green background with an image of the cover of the book I Will Die On This Hill. At the top is a label in purple writing that says book review for September with five gold stars.
Neurodiversity Resources,  Resources

September Book Review: I Will Die On This Hill

I am a total bookworm. The Disney princess that I identify with is Belle (give me the Beast’s library with the awesome rolling ladder!) and like her, in my free time my nose is in a book. Not a digital copy of a book, but an old-school book with paper pages because geriatric millennial here. I also use our library a lot, and if I like a book enough to read it again, then I will buy it for my personal bookshelf. I read for fun, inspiration and education. My first book review falls into the educational space, but I also found it inspirational at times. Read on to see if it made the cut to add to my personal bookshelf!

I Will Die On This Hill by Meghan Ashburn and Jules Edwards

This book has popped up in my searches for reading material over the past few months, and I finally checked it out of the library. I was intrigued by the authors (a non-autistic mother of autistic children AND an autistic mother of autistic children) and their goal of bridging the gap between autistic and non-autistic parents so that both groups can work together to create a better world for the children they love.

I DEVOURED this book in one evening. I found myself nodding along at times, remembering the early experiences and emotions when the autism diagnosis was handed down. Blushing, I recalled instances where I made uninformed comments or handled situations in a way that I wish I hadn’t. I smiled when I read passages that reinforced some of the actions that I took, even if they weren’t the popular or recommended approaches. I noted concepts, recommendations and resources that I can use to learn more and be a better parent and advocate.

Important Ideas and Concepts

Take a breath, or two or three. An autism diagnosis can feel scary and overwhelming, and it seems like there’s a race against the clock for additional evaluations, therapies and medications. I have been there. The authors provide wisdom that I wish I had on this topic, but I’ll say it a bit differently-chill out. Don’t parent from fear.. Take some time-a good six months AT LEAST-do research at your own pace, find sources and people that you trust, and determine what (if anything) would help your child be their most authentic self and live their best life. Personally, I cringe at the evaluations and various therapies that we tried because I felt like I had to do this or I was a bad parent. Explore the multitude of resources at the end of every chapter, which leads me to my next point…

Listen to autistic voices for guidance. I’m not autistic, and don’t know what it’s like to experience life as my son does. I am fortunate to have a close friend who is, and is a parent as well. This friend suggested that we seek an autism evaluation for Eric after a discussion about Eric’s fascination (which at the time seemed obsessive) with World War II. He was the only person who suggested autism, and he was right! This book highlights the importance of seeking out actual, authentically autistic resources. You may not personally know anyone that is autistic, and this book offers a variety of options to seek out these voices and individuals. As an allistic person, I need to do more to help these voices be heard.

Be mindful of language and symbolism, and hold judgement with others. One of first conversations that I had with my previously-mentioned friend was about language and symbols. I didn’t know what the “correct” language and symbols were, and I was afraid of doing or saying something offensive. This book provides valuable insight into why language and symbols used are so important, as well as guidance on these topics. Everyone deserves and has a right to be treated with respect, and that includes how non-autistics can choose words to support the community. In general, use “is autistic” instead of “with autism”, “disability” instead of “special needs”, and the infinity symbols instead of puzzle pieces. And if others make an uninformed choice, give them some grace and remember that there was a time you didn’t know better, either.

Assume competence. Said another way, assume they can, and then confirm. For example, don’t assume your child who doesn’t use mouth words can’t hear you or can’t communicate. They can TOTALLY hear you, they understand you, they need you to help identify the best way for them to communicate with the world (maybe it’s an AAC device, typing, sign language). Your child’s development path may meander or be a bit “spikier” than their peers-it’s totally fine. Don’t discount your kiddo and their abilities because of a diagnosis. Offer them opportunities and experiences so they can lead a rich, meaningful life on their terms.

Should You Buy I Will Die On This Hill?

YES, YES, YES, A THOUSAND TIMES YES. As almost every parent eventually discovers, we have to be the expert and advocate for our children, and this book is an essential tool in your toolbox. We gain knowledge that even medical professionals don’t have, and it can put us in uncomfortable positions. Friend (and I say this as a person whose skin crawls at the thought of conflict), get comfortable being uncomfortable. Question things that don’t seem right, listen to your gut when it feels squirmy. You know your child best and you will need to be their voice. By advocating in a respectful way, you have the opportunity to build bridges and affect positive change. And that, my friends, is something we can be proud of.

Book Info

Title-“I Will Die On This Hill” by Meghan Ashburn and Jules Edwards.

Page Count-256 (including references).

Difficulty Level-Medium. If you’re just entering the world of autism, you will find yourself Googling definitions and concepts as you read.

Where to BuyAmazon, Barnes & Noble, Thrift Books.

Find a Library Near Youhttps://www.usa.gov/libraries

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