This article was first published on Medium.com by Sarah Awa and is being used with permission here.
It’s time for me to address this topic because, unfortunately, I’ve just had my heart broken by a book that started out with excellent disability representation only to crash and burn in the final third. What happened? In broad strokes, the author did not understand the ultimate consequences of disability. That failure, as you will see below, can have a disastrous effect on readers, both disabled and otherwise. As someone who has battled a serious, incurable autoimmune disease for more than 17 years, I care deeply about this topic, and so I’m going to show you how to write disabled and/or chronically ill people* well. But first, let me explain why writing them well is important.
This is somewhat of a hard post for me, because these are stories that are dear to me and terribly clever (or have seemed that way to me, at various times), and mostly that I spent a lot of effort on but that never coalesced into books. I’ll go chronologically.