Kristy cures autism!

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I am continuuing to remember my favorite BSC books, this being one of them. The basic plot? Kristy gets a regular sitting job (they get like thousands of regular sitting jobs that last exactly one book) for Susan, who is autistic. Kristy tries to make Susan “normal” so her mother won’t send her away to a specialized school. Finally, Susan does go away. Probably for the better. Who is Kristy to deny her a good education and the attention she needs? Kristy is such a fucking egomaniac.

That leads me to something else: who in their right mind would leave their severely autistic child in the hands of a thirteen year old? From what I remember, Susan doesn’t even communicate.

This book sparked my keen interest in autism as a subject. I think because this book didn’t exactly explain autism very well. Firstly, it led me to believe that all individuals with autism have some like special super power (i.e. Susan playing any piece on the piano by heart). Also, it described Susan as being “inside herself in her own world” which I guess could be an accurate description, but I took it too literally. As in, while she is walking around Stoneybrook, her mind was in another dimension and she was talking with magical elves and dragons. I mean, she may very well be, but I couldn’t really comprehend it. After that, my mother rented Rain Man for me, which I think was my first R-rated movie. Then I did a whole research paper on autism for school and got acolades and shit. Thanks, Baby-Sitters Club!

One other thing that I kind of remember about this one was that Kristy was surprised that Susan was so pretty. As if being differently-abled automatically disqualifies you from being good-looking. And she took Susan to hang out with the other kids and tried to get her to act “normal” but she just did “weird” things.

In my work now I work with some individuals with varying levels of autism and when I work with them I still sometimes think about Susan! Goddam you BSC!

Kristy has a very “you are so fucking pathetic so I need to butt in and help you change your life” look that reminds us of a certain blond twin.

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Posted in: bsc

36 thoughts on “Kristy cures autism!

  1. maybeimamazed02 says:

    ihatewheat, I remember reading this book and then discussing autism with my mom, who had just seen Rain Man! We were comparing Raymond’s ability with numbers to Susan’s musical inclinations.

    What I actually did like about this book was that the BSC didn’t step in and solve everything…some problems are in fact beyond their control.

    I’m so glad you’re recapping BSC books, btw!

  2. Diana says:

    You mean being differently abled *doesn’t* disqualify a person from being good-looking? Because I’m legally blind and people are often stunned to learn this because, yanno, I don’t look like crap.

  3. Sarah says:

    Diana: Well, you can’t see to put on makeup! I’m sure they expect you to have lipstick up your nose and mascara scribbled all over your forehead.

  4. JordanBaker says:

    I remember being ten or twelve and still wincing because I realized what an ass Kristi was being. Isn’t there a scene where she figures the kids will like Susan if they see her being all piano savant-y, and so she invites them all over to see her playing from memory and one of them charges admission like a freak show? Garrrr . . .

  5. Cara Walker says:

    As an Aussie I always remembered this book for the Hobart invasion and the overuse of words like Sheila. I have lived in Australia my entire life and not one guy has called me a sheila and, believe me, they wouldn’t want to!;)

    Yes, I remember thinking that every autistic person must have some ‘idiot savant’ talent. Fortunately since then I have learned more about this disorder from my work. But unfortunately every time I think of autism I think of this shite book!

  6. tinypants says:

    Not specific to this book — but at the moment I’m at my parents’ house, so of course they’re all “You have to go through all the stuff you left here and get rid of it” (unfortunately I got rid of all my old YA books when I still was a YA).

    Anyway, finding lots of pictures of myself when I was 13 made me realize — they make the girls on the covers of the BSC books look SO OLD. Actual 13-year-olds look more like kids. Kristy looks about 20 on this cover.

    Though the worst offender for this is probably #16, “Jessi’s Secret Language”, in which 11-year-old Jessi looks like she’s in her 20s. And in which Jessi pulls off an Elizabeth-esque feat by learning ASL pretty effortlessly and then teaching it to other kids in the neighborhood. The way they describe using ASL — especially to the other kids — similarly to this book implies that Matt Braddock has a super power (or as the title puts it, a “secret language”).

    Sigh… at least they don’t pull a Regina Morrow with Susan, sending her off to Europe, having her return with her autism magically “cured”, and talking all the time about how she’s now more beautiful than ever.

  7. yasoup says:

    What is normal, Kristy?
    If there’s such a thing as abnormal, IT’S YOU, Kristy. Trying to deny an autistic kid the SPECIALIZED EDUCATION that will help her LIVE WITH HER CONDITION and not fuck up say, in the situation SOMEONE TRIED TO MAKE HER NORMAL?

  8. annakelly says:

    I avoided the Kristy books like the plague. Usually because they were mostly about the Krushers and sports and shit like that, but also because Kristy was, to me, so boring. They were all so perfect … soon I stopped reading because I knew how formulaic (sp?) the books were – everything would always turn out okay.

    Except for Stacey vs. the BSC, but at that time I didn’t really care.

  9. Magpie says:

    I’d never noticed the similarity between Kristy and Liz Wakefield before, but you’re absolutely right. Interestingly, I loved Liz and thought Kristy was the most annoying character ever. I was a hypocrite!

  10. glittergirley says:

    I have a confession – I usually skipped the second chapter of all the books because I hated all the introductions and reasonings.

    I also remember reading another ann m. martin book that was about an autistic kid .. like i think it as the main character’s younger brother or something. I dont remember which book I read first but after both of them I was really scared of autism because it seemed so mysterious. 😦

  11. annakelly says:

    Speaking as a person with a physical disability called “mild ataxic cerebral palsy” (it sounds much worse than it is), I’ve always preferred “disabled.” I don’t like “challenged” and “handicapped” makes me feel a little uncomfortable. I can’t explain it. It doesn’t help that it’s also used in golf.

    “Differently-abled” is acceptable, but it sounds like it’s trying too hard to be PC. Then again, most PC terms kind of sound like that 🙂

  12. Deathy says:

    “That leads me to something else: who in their right mind would leave their severely autistic child in the hands of a thirteen year old?”

    My mother. ^_^ My younger brother is autistic and she always left him with me. Many fist fights and bruises were had. It always annoys me when people find out he’s autistic and they ask me what he’s good at because they think all autistic kids are a genius at something.

  13. Diana says:

    ihatewheat, I don’t get why the BSC’ers encountered people who’d moved to CT from so many different places! I also find it strange that BSC has a Japanese-American character, yet here in CT I’ve yet to meet a person of 100% Japanese descent who was born in the US. Meanwhile, BSC fails to include ethnic groups that have strong numbers in CT.

  14. Ellen Riteman says:

    Good thing Liz and Kristy were on opposite coasts. They would have killed each other over the Miss Nosey title.
    I’ll actually take Liz over Kristy though. That girls a miracle worker! And I’d backhand any 13 yr old who tried to tell me how to raise my autistic daughter.

  15. BadKat says:

    I agree that this book totally sucked at explaining to me what the hell autism was. I had to have my pediatric nurse mother clarify.

    Liz + Kristy ÷ (self-regard + egoism) = Narcissistic Bitches

  16. Vanessa Saxton says:

    I cannot believe i ever read BSC. More than that, I cannot believe i never saw the parallels between Kristy and Elizabeth!

  17. Ellen K. says:

    This was another BSC book in which the kids have unlikely musical tastes, like the neighbor boy who just loves “The Music Man.” Ann M. Martin spent much of these books giving shout-outs to her own inner geek.

  18. Lemur says:

    This book made me want to punch Kristy in the uterus.

    Wait, I think all the books made me want to punch Kristy in the uterus.

  19. Vanessa Saxton says:

    Ann Martin also schooled me on diabetes. Forgot about that one. Both of my in laws have diabetes and I always thought any sugar whatsoever was a big no no which will make the diabetic go into a coma! The first time I ever saw my mother in law eat chocolate I asked why would she would do that since it is so deadly.

  20. Jo says:

    Interesting. I didn’t read this one until a year or so ago, when all the book were up on a Web site for a while and I read the entire thing. This is after having friends with autistic kids and doing a few papers on them.

    “Also, it described Susan as being “inside herself in her own world” which I guess could be an accurate description, but I took it too literally.”

    I can see why if you read this as a kid, you’d take it too literally, but nearly everyone I’ve met who has an autistic kid (or who teaches autistic kids) says this about them.

  21. audreyapple says:

    Kristy also looks about 35 on that cover. But then, the Babysitters always looked so much older. I guess to try and fool the audience into forgetting shit like that parents would never leave their kids alone with an 11 year old no matter how much they weren’t allowed to babysit at night.

  22. Laura @ Hungry And Frozen says:

    This book was the first I’d heard of autism, but like several others, I thought all people with autism had some kind of super-talent. I remember feeling kind of uncomfortable with this book even as a kid. On the one hand, Kristy is a tool, on the other hand, I guess the mean neighbourhood kids are kind of realistic.

  23. RollingStone says:

    I’ve actually been diagnosed with a mild form of autism. That didn’t happen until I was a teenager; before then, everyone just thought I was a shy kid who would grow out of it. Even today, most people assume that I’m just shy.

    It really bugs me that the media and the schools are practically obsessed with severely autistic kids while no one gives a shit about adults with milder cases. If I were a public school kid today, I would be getting all kinds of help; instead, I can’t even find a specialist whose office is less than three hours away.

  24. calico drive says:

    ” I usually skipped the second chapter of all the books because I hated all the introductions and reasonings.”
    ah see thats why i did not skip these – i wanted to see how many ways they could saw Dawn was an individual; Claud was an artist etc etc LOL

  25. Peaches says:

    I agree with Cara Walker. I’m an Aussie too and I infrequently, if EVER, use the words “barbie” or “sheila”! The creator of the Hobart family has a lot to answer for.

  26. MJ McStabby says:

    ” I usually skipped the second chapter of all the books because I hated all the introductions and reasonings.”
    I did that too, but I always read the part about what Claudia was wearing, because, well, duh.

    This book was also my first intro to autism, and stayed that way for a good long time (I’ve never seen Rain Man). Eventually, I got a job working for twin boys with autism, and starting reading books about it and other neuro disorders. Those kids were effing awesome. They were pretty severe as far as functionality goes (nonverbal, etc.) but very lovable, and not averse to hugs. They had more personality that most SVH characters all put together (not like that’s hard.) Wouldn’t you know, I ended up with a boner for neurology and here I am, about to finish my first year of med school. Thanks, Ann M. Martin!

  27. Ruby Woo says:

    Wasn’t this the book where Kristy follows the girl and sees her getting inside a giant fake hug machine? (this is my seven year old interpretation…so don’t judge me…)

  28. Lynn says:

    Holy shit I just re-read this book for the first time in a decade or so. Oddly enough, I did kind of see Kristy’s POV, though-even if it’s not a 13-year-old’s place to tell parents how to raise their own kid, Susan’s parents kind of sucked. They barely even TRIED to help Susan adjust to normal society, just kept her totally isolated and barely spent time with her. Even if it didn’t do anything in the end it’s like they totally gave up on her before they even tried.

    I dunno. Maybe I’m biased because I’m on the spectrum and I didn’t even get a proper diagnosis till I was 17, so by then it was awkward as hell. But still. This book really shows its age when it comes to dealing with autism.

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