More than once, I’ve heard that there are too many memoirs written by parents, or siblings, or teachers of those with autism.

Wayne Gilpin told me and Dan Burns (author, Saving Ben, A Father’s Story of Autism, another in the Mayborn series that published See Sam Run) that he thought he had something when Temple Grandin’s mother wrote her memoir, but it didn’t sell like his other books.

Gilpin has a terrific collection of practical books, and frankly, when I had only $20 to spend, I chose the toilet-training book or the educational manual over a parent memoir, too.

Now New York Times staff editor, Neil Genzlinger, has weighed in on the topic, wailing that there are too many memoirs in our current age of over-sharing.

He makes a special notice for the autism memoir — way too many he said.


His tipping point is “Twin,” by Allen Shawn, who reflects on his family’s choice to institutionalize his twin sister nearly 60 years ago. Genzlinger shreds the book’s premise. Not having read the book, it’s hard to share in his criticism; however, his characterization — that the author was tone-deaf in explaining the family’s choice — doesn’t inspire me to even check it out at the library.

I learned plenty from Temple’s memoirs, and the writings of other parents. Sadly, many of those parental writings dedicated too much ink to curative measures, rather than what we’re all looking for.

I like the places in a memoir where real life slams into all the lessons we’re taught on how to live life.

It seems Genzlinger does, too, saying that those families that had the fortitude and resourcefulness to incorporate the child into their lives — and not pay someone else to take care of it — deserve to add to the heap.

Ok, well, not so much ouch anymore.

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