While I read this book all the way through, and I found some elements of it interesting, Liane's books have a heavy emphasis on 'passing' and an air o...moreWhile I read this book all the way through, and I found some elements of it interesting, Liane's books have a heavy emphasis on 'passing' and an air of neurological elitism that I don't really like. She seems determined to distance Asperger Syndrome from autism, and therefore herself from autists that are unwilling or unable to pass, and that really isn't the way I feel about it. So while her books may be interesting or useful for other Aspies/auties, they're not really my cup of tea, and there are other personal and parental accounts that I enjoyed much more and found much more value in.(less)
This is a memoir that is as much about growing up Australian as it is about living autistic and raising an autistic son. I connected a lot with Jo's e...moreThis is a memoir that is as much about growing up Australian as it is about living autistic and raising an autistic son. I connected a lot with Jo's experience of the world. Often when I read a personal account, I relate to some elements and not to others, like, that's me, but that's really not me. With Jo's memoir, I found myself relating with most of her experiences, her social interactions, her anxiety and constant fretting and revisiting casual conversations, her dress sense, her house, her family of spectrum and non-spectrum and broader autism phenotype people. For those wanting a linear, standard story about diagnosis and therapy, this isn't that at all. But for those who want a picture of a real life where autism isn't everything, but it is a thing that colours a person's everyday experiences of the world, work, family life, motherhood and society, this story is a very good one, and something rather special in the world of autism biography/autobiography. (less)
A highly enjoyable read, considering it's essentially a teaching guide. Lots of deftly-chosen anecdotes, positive examples, and just plain good advice...moreA highly enjoyable read, considering it's essentially a teaching guide. Lots of deftly-chosen anecdotes, positive examples, and just plain good advice. Plenty of input, quotes and illustrative paragraphs by actual autists, many of them non-verbal, which is brilliant. Even though this is aimed at educators, I think anyone with an interest in autism can take something positive away from this book, even if it's just the simple idea of taking a step back, breathing, and putting yourself in the shoes of the person you're trying to communicate with, be they autistic or neurotypical.(less)
This biography is aimed at the pre-teen and up bracket, but I, as an adult, found it a comprehensive read. It was full of genuinely interesting inform...moreThis biography is aimed at the pre-teen and up bracket, but I, as an adult, found it a comprehensive read. It was full of genuinely interesting information about Temple as a child and as an adult, in the present day. There was a wealth of photographs, diagrams, and concise lists of information on autism and on animal handling. From a purely autistic aesthetic point of view, I was highly impressed that the pages, while still shiny (necessary, because of the photo content) they were tinted a series of pastel colours - yellow, green, blue, etc. - rather than being stark white. Many autists find reading white pages, particularly shiny pages, uncomfortable due to visual sensitivity. I don't know if this was just a stylistic choice on the part of the publishing house, or if it was deliberately done this way, but I wish more books by or aimed at autistic people would be coloured this way.(less)
An enjoyable account of a modern-day child with complex challenges and incredible talent. I found it an easy, pleasant read. Cathleen Lewis has author...moreAn enjoyable account of a modern-day child with complex challenges and incredible talent. I found it an easy, pleasant read. Cathleen Lewis has authored a well-written and honest account that feels real but is devoid of relentless tragedy. A little light talk of faith/religion, but it's not pervasive or the focus of the book; that, rightly, is Rex, and the bond between him and his mother. (less)
While this is very much a coffee table book, I really enjoyed being able to read more about Keli (post-The Sunshine Boy) and about the founding of the...moreWhile this is very much a coffee table book, I really enjoyed being able to read more about Keli (post-The Sunshine Boy) and about the founding of the Golden Hat Foundation. The thing I liked best, though, was the gallery of pics of autistic kids and young adults with their first words, which range from profound statements like "I am real" and "Stop the war. It is killing too many soldiers" to practical statements of physical discomfort like "There is a big rock in my shoe" and "Teeth - hurt - help." I would strongly recommend that anyone in the USA buying this book buy it directly from the Golden Hat Foundation so that the proceeds go towards helping non-verbal autistic kids and adults get a proper education.(less)
I can say, in all honesty, that this is one of the best parental accounts of autism that I have ever read. In a month where autistics the world over a...moreI can say, in all honesty, that this is one of the best parental accounts of autism that I have ever read. In a month where autistics the world over are asking for Acceptance, not Awareness, this book is nothing less than the story of a mother who chooses to embrace and love her child for who he is, autism and all, despite the medical professional and the world at large trying to draw lines between them labelling different, individual things about him 'normal' and 'abnormal'. If I could afford to by a box of copies, I would, and I would hand it out to all and sundry, saying, "This. This is someone doing it right."(less)
Gorgeous cover art, utterly, irredeemably dreadfully written. The author's writing style was so full of ridiculous, overblown one-liners it was like t...moreGorgeous cover art, utterly, irredeemably dreadfully written. The author's writing style was so full of ridiculous, overblown one-liners it was like trying to read a book by a really bad observational stand-up comedian. Kathy Lette's page claims she writes books 'the way women talk when men aren't around', but I can state for a fact that NO ONE I have ever met talks the way she writes. I only got through about thirty pages of her incomprehensible drivel before I gave up, and I really, really tried. Just so, so bad.(less)
Wonderful, poetic work about raising a profoundly autistic daughter on three different continents. Lisa found the most progress working with her daugh...moreWonderful, poetic work about raising a profoundly autistic daughter on three different continents. Lisa found the most progress working with her daughter with the Son-Rise (Options program), but she openly admits that this was mainly because the positive attitude of acceptance that Options advocates made therapy fun for her and her daughter, and made the bond between them closer. This is a book with no magic cures, but it is an uplifting read. Highly recommended.(less)
**spoiler alert** If you can put casual historical racism, sexism and ableism aside, this book is an easy, quick read. It is light on details, sometim...more**spoiler alert** If you can put casual historical racism, sexism and ableism aside, this book is an easy, quick read. It is light on details, sometimes frustratingly vague, skipping over whole years in a moment. When you get down to it, though, the real interesting feature of this book is the question of Sandy's problems.
Born to an obviously bipolar mother, Sandy spent his first three years being occasionally loved and very often completely neglected, his mother vacillating between devotion and believing that Sandy was either the reincarnation of her twin brother (likely also bipolar, who committed suicide on the day of Sandy's birth) and believing that Sandy somehow 'killed' him.
Many of Sandy's problems are classic symptoms of neglect in a very young child, but others are somewhat more ambiguous. His extremely fastidious habits when eating, his reversion to crawling, his stiff gait and toe-walking, his uncanny laugh, unusual vocalisations, talking of himself in the third person (when his regressed speech began to return), his mania for routine and repetition, his violent, nauseous reaction to activities involving slimy textures (eg. finger painting) all speak of a child on the autistic spectrum.
So which was it, autism or trauma? My personal opinion is, yes. As in, both. Even if his mother had not been neglectful, I think Sandy would have regressed to a degree, and would have ended up with the label of 'emotionally disturbed', a catch-all term at the time given to children with autism and other developmental disorders, trauma, and mental illness, with very little distinction. And had his mother been thought neurotypical, she probably would have been vilified more. As it is, though there's acknowledgement that she's the cause of some of Sandy's problems, she's never blamed, simply talked of as being extremely ill in an empathetic way.
At the time of the ending of the book, Sandy is enrolled in a small school with a group of students with a range of abilities and disabilities. From the account, he's happy there and achieving at a level, if not of his neurotypical peers, then at higher level than a variety of experts initially thought possible.(less)
This is, by a pretty long margin, one of the worst books that is supposedly about autism that I have ever read. I'm pretty relaxed about people choosi...moreThis is, by a pretty long margin, one of the worst books that is supposedly about autism that I have ever read. I'm pretty relaxed about people choosing to use alternate therapies and medicine, but by the end of this book I had gone past 'disgust at poor parenting choices' and into 'this woman is truly, seriously, batshit insane'. I think any person who makes serious - and potentially dangerous - medical choices by testing energies and swinging pendulums is worrying. The fact that this woman was using these methods to dictate medical choices for her seriously ill toddler is horrendous. I think the miracle by the end isn't that Tenna and her son are magically faith healed, it's that she somehow didn't poison herself and her son with all the potions and pills and tinctures they were both imbibing, and neither of them wound up dead from neglect. Don't just avoid this book, run far far away from it.(less)
**spoiler alert** This book was really not what I was expecting from the cover blurb. In fact, I'm really rather pleased at what it turned out to be,...more**spoiler alert** This book was really not what I was expecting from the cover blurb. In fact, I'm really rather pleased at what it turned out to be, since I think it's a fairly unique book in my collection. There are similarities to Torey Hayden's books about working in special needs classrooms and clinical practice in the 1970s, but Mira's stories are a lot darker, a lot grittier, and filled with far fewer stories of recovery. Also pivotal to the tone of Mira's stories are the facts that she was a newly educated professional in the very immediate aftermath of World War Two, and most of her stories are from the later forties through to the sixties. She is Jewish, and that often coloured her interactions with her patients, most notably, a group of over thirty Displaced children who spoke a Babel of languages who had been accepted into the United States as refugees, and secondly, in her work with a young boy who idolised Hitler, because he saw him as an all-powerful ideal, a solution to the powerlessness in his own life.
Mira's interactions with autistic kids was of particular interest to me; Danny, a child who she ultimately could not help, who was not only autistic but had had severe trauma and was violent to himself and others, and Peter, an "idiot savant", probably a prodigious one, who was a calender and mathematical lightning calculator, who could solve the Times crossword by the age of seven, and had a incredible, perfect memory (as savants tend to). He also had a life controlled by magical thinking, obsessive compulsive rituals, repetitions, relentless questioning, counting, an overwhelming obsession with cats (because he saw them as the solution to immortality), and needing to know a wealth of information about every single person he so much as passed on the street, as a means of keeping track of "parts of himself". Apart from some that were based on trauma, to a modern reader, Danny seemed to have developed a lot of his rituals because of sensory integration problems that modern clinicians now know about because of autistic people's personal accounts, which weren't available back in the '50s and '60s when Mira was working with him. Both Donna Williams and Tito Mukhopadhyay have described the complex processes they have to work through to recognise items as simple as a door by means of deductions (Donna was helped by Irlen lenses, she describes her newly cohesive world on getting them in Like Colour To The Blind), and also, how their bodies often feel fragmented, and not connected to them. (Tito in particular describes his need to physically stim as a result of this disconnection.) Peter's case in particular makes me wonder if in a modern treatment setting, his progress would have been faster, purely because of this knowledge and the abundant techniques used now as a matter of course to help people with sensory integration problems (many of which can be done in the home with easily available, cheap resources).
As a whole, reading a book about methods used to work with emotionally disturbed and mentally ill children fifty to sixty years ago was remarkably insightful and refreshing. Though Mira's conclusions are obviously influenced by Freudian theory (something I don't always like or agree with), she worked in what then was a very unconventional, child-led way that until now I didn't think existed until much later. She seemed to work with children (and by extension, their families) in a way that was judgement free. Even when it was parental abuse, or parental mental illness, affecting the child's health directly, she never seemed to 'blame' them, just made the connection and tried to work with the child and family as best she could. In these days, I think many of the children who were being abused would be removed from their homes by the state, Chaim and Anthony in particular, but I don't know whether their outcomes would have been different in a modern world, with modern methods. I think sometimes, it's a combination of the right circumstance and the right guide to help someone out of a dark place, and modern psychiatry doesn't guarantee a happy ending any more than 1950's psychiatry did. (less)
This is a good contemporary view of a Sydney family struggling for the best way to help their son with middle class wages and virtually no government...moreThis is a good contemporary view of a Sydney family struggling for the best way to help their son with middle class wages and virtually no government help whatsoever. The services out there for people with autism and their families are virtually non-existent in Australia. Anthony remarks at the end of the book that there's more funding now for families than there was when Alex was first diagnosed, but it's still a bleak and lonely place out there with huge waiting lists and little constructive advice for anyone thrown headlong into navigating disability services for a young child. Even more worrying is that Alex and his family live in the largest city in Australia. It makes one think about all those families stuck out in smaller cities or rural areas, where finding a dentist or a GP is hard enough, let alone a speech pathologist or play therapist with experience dealing with autistic symptoms in children.(less)