Zoom program to examine society’s treatment of severe autism


What is the place of intellectually and developmentally disabled people in society? What responsibilities do we, as citizens and human beings, have to one another? Who should decide for those who cannot decide for themselves? What is the meaning of religion to someone with no abstract language?

Amy S.F. Lutz examines social issues such as inclusion, religion, therapeutics and friendship through the lens of severe autism. She will present her thoughts on Zoom on Feb. 23 as part of the Jewish Alliance of Rhode Island’s participation in Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance and Inclusion Month, which is observed in February.

Lutz’s first book, “Each Day I Like It Better: Autism, ECT, and the Treatment of Our Most Impaired Children,” was published in 2014, and her new book, “We Walk: Life with Severe Autism,” was released in October. Lutz has also written about severe autism for many publications, including The Atlantic, Slate Magazine and Psychology Today.  She is a founding member of the National Council on Severe Autism and is currently completing her doctorate in the history of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Lutz lives near Philadelphia with her husband and five children.

In her new collection of beautiful and raw essays, Lutz writes openly about her experiences, the positive and the negative, as the mother of a son, now 21, with severe autism. In the book, she challenges commonly held definitions of autism as either a disease or neurodiversity. 

In a world where the public perception of autism is largely shaped by the “quirky geniuses” featured on television shows such as “The Big Bang Theory” and “The Good Doctor,” “We Walk” calls for centering our debates about this disorder, and other challenges, on those who are most impacted by them.

Lutz will be speaking on Zoom on Tuesday, Feb. 23, at 7 p.m. The free program is co-sponsored by the Jewish Book Council and is part of the Alliance’s Behind the Book Series, as well as the Alliance’s contribution to Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance and Inclusion Month.  

To purchase a copy of the book and support local bookstores, please visit Books on the Square at  www.booksq.com/jewish-alliance-book-series. Use the code BOOKSERIES to receive a small discount.

To receive the Zoom link, sign up at jewishallianceri.org/Lutz.

For more information, contact Larry Katz at 401-421-4111, ext. 179, or lkatz@jewishallianceri.org.

LARRY KATZ (lkatz@jewishallianceri.org) is the director of Jewish Life and Learning at the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island.