Photo: Zack with his Mom Whitney, the author, showing the incredible love between a mother and son.
By John Koehler
Publisher, Koehler Books
Author of 7 books
Advocate for people with disabilities
Person living with Bipolar Syndrome
On April 15 Koehler Books will officially publish Whitney Ellenby’s Autism Uncensored: Pulling Back the Curtain. We agreed to publish Ellenby’s book for the same reason any publisher would:
- The author had written an excellent book, well crafted and with a strong, logical narrative voice.
- The writing was clean and the craft excellent.
- The author was writing about her personal experience from a strong advocate position, a position of expertise based on her personal testimony.
- The author wrote the book to share her story in the hopes of helping other parents of autistic children who are dealing with extremely difficult issues of control, and who desperately want to give their children the best possible life. Ellenby offers her views and experience dealing with the unorthodox methods she specifically adapted to Zack so he could live a full life.
- The author clearly states in the Prologue that she understands that her methods are unorthodox, experimental, and even controversial; that she in no way endorses them for others to follow; that her book is not a prescription. She offers them as part of her own individual narrative, along with her unique perspectives about autism in hope of helping some parents with autistic children, because she has seen how much the methods she has employed with her own son, Zack, have helped him to realize his own civil rights, and live a more complete life.
- The author has an excellent following of readers and is well connected in the autism community.
- Her marketing and promotional plans were and are excellent. She gets it.
From a publishing perspective, we saw all green lights to get behind Ellenby’s book. Now it would appear, based on the rankings on Amazon and elsewhere, along with pre-orders, that our judgment was correct. Autism Uncensored received two Amazon BEST NEW RELEASE awards in particular categories, and continues to rank in the top 100 for books about the Mentally Disabled.
I also was particularly interested in Ellenby’s book for other professional and personal reasons:
- I am bipolar, and have been living with this syndrome for half my life, since I was 30. My first book was Bipolar by Koehler, which was my personal testimony, open and raw, about my life as a bipolar person. The book allowed me to help many BP people and their loved ones, just as Ellenby’s book will help many parents of kids with autism.
- I served as the Director of Young Life Capernaum in Hampton Roads for five years, from 2005–2010. God called me into this Christian ministry in part because I have a disability. I was not afraid of anyone, nor did I treat people with disabilities any differently than able-bodied, but rather called them up to the best life they could have, and helped them to not use their disability as an excuse for bad behavior. We took kids out of wheelchairs and let them wrestle! Some folks were appalled because no one had ever done it. But the kids loved it. Now everyone does it.
- I continue to be an advocate for people with disabilities. I continue to give talks to local groups ministering to adults with disabilities, including The Chosen. I support Faith Inclusion Network, a ministry that advocates for inclusion of our people across all faith groups. I am involved with the Tidewater Piranhas, a Power Soccer team here in Hampton Roads, and am organizing a fundraiser so that these awesome people with spina bifida, cerebral palsy, MS and many other physically debilitating maladies can be rock stars, on and off the court.
- Koehler Books is an advocate for all people, in particular authors who are writing to help the community in some fashion. We have published books that:
• help people with eating disorders
• help people use exercise to overcome nervous disorders
• help people dealing with proper ADHD medication issues
• help people living with ADHD or ADD
• help people use pets as a way to help overcome eating and other disorders
• help people understand the proper use of medical cannabis for pain disorders
• help people with anxiety disorders
• help kids better understand fitness
• help people with bipolar syndrome live fully
• help people quite smoking
• help people eat healthy
• help people overcome addictions
• help people overcome emotional and physical abuse
• help people use dogs to help them live with diabetes
• help the elderly live a more full life
- We believe in a Free Press, and believe book publishing comes under that protection. The Constitutional right to Free Speech, as clearly stated in the First Amendment:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” —First Amendment to the Constitution
We do not cower nor are we beholden to any group or individual who states their opinions about any work that we have published or are about to publish. We welcome their opinions as long as they respect our rights to share the opinions of our authors. We do not consider or respond to any actions, letters or notes demanding that we do not publish any work. Internet bullies, whether autistic or not, do not exist to us, and are put in the trash.
Having said that, I appreciate the rights of people with autism (or anyone for that matter) to voice their opinions. I encourage you to voice your opinions elsewhere, because this publisher is deaf when you ask that any book not be published. That is blatant censorship and will only backfire and raise awareness about this book, thus causing it to sell more copies.
Many of the emails we have received about Ellenby’s book are based solely on the heavily-edited article about her and her book that was published by the Washington Post. Any opinions based on that article are incomplete and, quite frankly, make high-functioning literate people with autism appear to be less than intelligent. If you do not read the entire book, then you are like a person who meets you and decides that all people with autism are just like you. That would be completely untrue.
Zack is not like you. You know who he is. You are smart, so I call upon you to BE SMART. Zack is unable to express himself like you do. He is terrified of close spaces and new places and new people. But he is far from stupid. He communicates, just not as articulately as you. He cannot write much at all, certainly not as amazingly as you can. But if he could, I think he would thank his mom and dad for helping him to live big. He would tell you to open your mind up and consider new things. He would tell you that his mom NEVER ABUSED HIM. That she loves him to the moon and back. He might even tell you to mind your own business, because you have no right to tell him how to live.
I wonder if you truly care about Zack. Do you care about him enough to let him live with the help only his parents can give him? Even if it makes you uncomfortable?
Let me tell you something about people who are bipolar. I am on the high end of the spectrum, like you. I take medication and have a good circle of family and friends who look out for me. I try my best to stay connected to God. I try to help others with BP by advocating and writing.
But there are some BP people who are much worse off then me. Medication has little effect. They are suicidal. They can’t live a full life. All options are closed. Except for one:
Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT). AKA Electric Shock Therapy.
It is a disgusting and gross solution to me, and perhaps to you too. But I don’t need ECT. I have a choice. Meds work for me. But for thousands who just want to die, they will use it. And it can work for them. It can allow them to live a more normal life.
Zack’s parents were desperate to help him live a more normal life. So they tried something new. It worked, and now this book will offer new hope to many parents who love their children. I know you disagree. That’s okay. You have a right to disagree, but you do not have the right to censor the publication of this book, or threaten my company with any actions. I urge you to be careful. I am not the enemy. I am an advocate and I have hundreds of friends who live with autism. I work with some of them. They rock, just like you.
I challenge you to read the ENTIRE book and THEN state your opinions. They are welcome. Tell the world what you think. Don’t tell the publisher, for goodness sake!
If you really want to state your opinion, then gather your people and put your thoughts down on paper. Write in a constructive way. A way that can improve the world. Write it down and send the manuscript to me. We would consider publishing it if it passes the quality test. I dare you to write your stories down.
God bless you.
PS – Please do not contact me by phone, email or any other means re: the publication of Autism Uncensored.