Autism through a Literary Lens Panel Discussion

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The Autism through a Literary Lens symposium concludes with a discussion on the way the literary community addresses autism, how we get it right, and where we need to do better. Autistic and neurotypical writers address some of the primary concerns in writing about autism, including:

  • Autism is often poorly understood and can be negatively and stereotypically portrayed in literature.
  • Autistic people have their own stories to tell, and they can, and should, tell them.
  • If you’re neurotypical, writing autistic characters credibly (e.g. with nuance) takes education. If you’re autistic, it takes practice.

This panel is a part of the event Autism through a Literary Lens, a symposium featuring autistic and neurotypical writers leading creative writing workshops and a panel discussion on the portrayal of autism in the written word. FREE and open to the public. Registration is required for each event.

Click here for more information about the symposium »


Eric Garcia is a Washington-based journalist and editor for The Hill who is also writing a book for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt about autism and public policy. Prior to that, he was a reporter for Roll Call, covering politics, as well as an economic policy reporter for National Journal. While at National Journal, Eric wrote a personal and reported essay about life as an autistic reporter for the print magazine, which earned him the Harriet McBryde Johnson Prize for Nonfiction Writing from the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. Prior to that, he was a a financial regulation reporter for MarketWatch. Other bylines include The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, The New Republic, The American Prospect, Salon, and The Southern Political Report.

The mother of an autistic child, Hannah Grieco has a Master of Education from Marymount University and a Bachelor of Arts from Oberlin College, with a certificate in gifted instruction (James Madison University). Her bylines include The Washington Post‘s “On Parenting,” Huffington Post, First for Women, Motherly, Parenting Pod, Lunch Ticket, Barren Magazine, Hobart, Arlington Magazine, and several other publications. She is currently writing a guide to special needs parenting.

Shanon Lee is a Survivor Activist & Storyteller with features on National Geographic, HuffPost Live, The Wall Street Journal, TV One and the REELZ Channel’s ‘Scandal Made Me Famous’. She is a Contributor for Forbes and The Lily at The Washington Post. Her work appears in publications including Cosmopolitan, Playboy, Good Housekeeping, ELLE, Marie Claire, Woman’s Day, Women’s Health and Redbook. Shanon is a Women’s Media Center SheSource Expert, and an official member of the National Speakers Bureau for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) and the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN). She was recently named one of The Tempest’s 40 Women To Watch 2019.

Jen Malia is Associate Professor of English at Norfolk State University.  Her debut children’s picture book, Too Sticky! Sensory Issues with Autism, illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff, will be published by Albert Whitman in 2020. Based on her own and her daughter’s experiences living with autism and sensory issues, her book is the story of an autistic girl who has to overcome her fear of sticky hands to participate in her second-grade slime experiment. She has written autism-related essays for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Catapult, New York Magazine, Woman’s Day, Self, and Glamour, among others.  She lives in Virginia Beach with her husband and three kids. Find her on Twitter and Instagram at @jenmaliabooks or visit her website at

Carolyn Parkhurst is the New York Times bestselling author of four novels, including THE DOGS OF BABEL and HARMONY, as well as a children’s book. Her work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker and The Rumpus. She lives in Washington, DC with her husband and children.

Amy Freeman divides her time between her role as Development Director for The Writer’s Center and freelance writing. Bylines range from The Washington Post to

This panel is a part of the event Autism through a Literary Lens, a symposium featuring autistic and neurotypical writers leading creative writing workshops and a panel discussion on the portrayal of autism in the written word. Registration is required to attend.


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