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Nobody Nowhere: The Extraordinary Autobiography of an Autistic Girl

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  2,022 ratings  ·  174 reviews

"This is a story of two battles, a battle to keep out 'the world' and a battle to join it."

She inhabits a place of chaos, cacophony, and dancing light--where physical contact is painful and sights and sounds have no meaning. Although labeled, at times, deaf, retarded, or disturbed, Donna Williams is autistic--afflicted by a baffling condition of heightened sensory perc

Paperback, 219 pages
Published February 1st 1994 by Avon (first published April 23rd 1992)
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Gale A terrific book. I read it years ago to understand the real struggle of living with autism and it was the best book from the source and insightful. Re…moreA terrific book. I read it years ago to understand the real struggle of living with autism and it was the best book from the source and insightful. Read it. (less)

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Average rating 3.96  · 
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3.75 stars
This is the first of Donna Williams’s autobiographies and covers her childhood and early adulthood until she is about 25. She identified as autistic and this is her account of how she experienced the world and other people. Narratives of illness and disability can be difficult, especially if they stray into self-help or preaching. This mostly doesn’t. Williams also suffered significant abuse from her mother and a sibling. She related to the world through two other personalities, Carol
Lisa McKenzie
Jan 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
It felt like a real privilege to see the world through an autistic point of view. A one of a kind achievement.
Mary Blye Kramer
Feb 26, 2021 rated it really liked it
A fascinating read. Amazing that anyone who had (she passed away from breast cancer some years ago) her level of autism figured out pretty much on her own how to function. Also astonishing is her level of introspection and ability to communicate all of it in writing.
Aurélien Thomas

'I believe I was born alienated, and if not, I was certainly so by the time I got left behind in emotional development at about the age of three. Autistic people are not mad, not stupid. They are not fairies, not aliens -just people trapped in invisible, crippled emotional responses. At the same time it would be misleading to think that such people do not feel.'

Every life experience is different. When it comes to autism, Donna Williams (who wasn't diagnosed until she had reached adulthood) certa
Feb 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I felt an overwhelming sense of sadness while reading this book. Aside from the fact that the writer is autistic, I felt everything she felt. She endured a lot of abuse in her lifetime, which only reminded me of mine. I had mini flashbacks of my childhood as I read about her life. The way her mind works and the things she felt about herself, reminds me of myself. This is definitely one of my all-time favorite non-fiction books. I recommend to anyone who wants to learn more about how an autistic ...more
Donna Williams wasn’t diagnosed with autism until she was in her mid-late twenties – and she self-diagnosed at that point and had already written her autobiography, which she then shared with a physician who told her that it should be published. She had a very rocky childhood with a mother and older brother who were at least verbally abusive (her mother was also occasionally physically abusive). Donna’s relationship with her father was better, but he remained aloof or distant. She spent some tim ...more
Dec 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was the first book I read after my oldest son was diagnosed with autism because it was the only book on this in our small town public library. I’m so glad I did because it’s a first person account of what it’s like to be an autistic person, rather then a clinical explanation. Eventually all three of my kids were diagnosed with autism, & I’m thankful for insight & foundation Donna’s books gave me so early in my journey. Nearly 20 years later, this book continues to hold memories & meaning.
**Some people have called the author's autism diagnosis into question, claiming she actually suffers from dissociative identity disorder, which does make sense. Do not read this book as one of your first autism memoirs**

This is an incredible story of a woman with autism learning how to function in neurotypical society, and an intriguing look at the personal experiences of Autism Spectrum Disorders. I'll admit, though, that for anyone uninterested in autism, this memoir may fall flat, because the
Ilie Ruby
May 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Brava. Brava. Brava. A rare and believable look into the world of an autistic woman that found her way out of this daunting condition. Williams writes with unmistakable clarity and eloquence as she illuminates a rarely seen journey.

This is not to be surpassed by her next book [Somebody Somewhere:]. A must-read for anyone who is interested in the dynamic associations of perception and sensory processing conditions.
Karen Yarrington
Nov 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Amazing book for anyone who loves an autistic person! If you ever want to delve into an autistic's mysterious world--read this book. It's the story of Donna, who was very abused and misunderstood while growing up in "her world" and yet was able to figure out for herself that everyone else lived in a different world--"the world". Many severely autistic people have a hard time understanding, let alone explaining, this difference to us--most don't even want to try. She is a gift! ...more
Alex Ankarr
Jul 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked it.
Faith Spinks
A fascinating glimpse into the world of autism.
Jigme Datse
This was a bit of an odd read. I read it just after reading Somebody Somewhere: Breaking Free from the World of Autism, and it was kind of doing that "backwards". I read it that order because for some reason while trying to pick up this book, I ended up with the other one. Which of course was fine.

I found this one was not *quite* the "this is the book for me" as the continuation in Somebody Somewhere. I'm not really sure what kind of was "missing" here, or what was here which was "bothering" me.
Sep 02, 2014 rated it liked it
This was a bit of a hard read. At first, I thought it had to do with reading about the devastating home life Donna had to put up with in her growing-up years. But as I got into the last third of the book, it just felt more like a slogging through. I know it's an autobiography, but even still, such accounts usually have a strong tie-together; common themes that yield some sort of self-discovery or grand life lesson. I felt like that wasn't very apparent here. I just kept reading about Donna's att ...more
Jan 11, 2009 rated it liked it
This book is interesting for me, because I work with students with autism. It was difficult to read at times, because the author has suffered a great deal of abuse throughout her life, and so it was heavy. But there were gems in there - answers to why she did the things I see my students doing, which were well worth the read.

If nothing else, the two sections after the conclusion of her story at the back, where she describes the meaning of her "language" and tips for interacting with and influen
Jan 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Another of many books I have read, because I have a child with autism. Ms. Williams' account is enlightening and heart breaking and a must read for any person working with or living with someone afflicted with autism. Her insights will enlighten and educate others about the complicated, mysterious affliction growing too rapidly in our country to ignore any longer. ...more
Nina Lenciano
Jan 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
A great book to take a peek in a very unique world. I salute Donna Williams for being strong despite everything she had experienced.
May 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book was really interesting. I would definitely recommend it. It was cool to see how Donna viewed the world and how she overcame different things throughout her life.
Marvin Menjívar
Nov 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Courageous and enlightening
May 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This autobiography is compelling, it draws the reader in. It tells the story of an autistic woman who only as an adult finds out that this is the label that best fits her. I don't agree with some of the reviews here that this book is an "awkward fiction" rather than an accurate account of autism. Donna does not even use the label until towards the end of the book, so it is unlikely she was simply trying to capitalize on the label to write a book. The book relates how she grapples with being diff ...more
This book--along with Someone Somewhere--is difficult to get through. It chronicles the life of the author, starting with an abusive and horrible childhood that is at times, very difficult to get through. It is certainly not a typical account of autism, with the author being at least very high functioning. I was not sure at all reading the book if the author was autistic, but she definitely has her difficulties. What is insightful in the book is the explanation and description of sensory process ...more
Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, nonfiction, asd
This book was terrific -- an immersion into a life that is hard to understand from the outside and maybe from the inside too. Highly recommend for people looking for more of a memoir/autobiography that does not have the research/interview basis of so many books about the autistic experience of women.

That said, so many of the reviews criticize her diagnosis, speculate about whether she has other conditions (in some cases, things that she was diagnosed with -- see her website), or want more "how t
Sarah Rigg
The autobiography of an autistic woman who grew up before we really knew very much about autism. Today, highly-involved parents pester doctors for answers, create support groups and lobby congress. When Donna was 3 or 4 years old, she got smacked in the face every time she did something stereotypically autistic. It is utterly amazing what this woman went through and how she helped "save" herself by trying to understand who she was and why she seemed so different from most other people. As far as ...more
Emily Park
Dec 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is heavy and not easy to read. I found it incredibly interesting because I have worked with students who have autism, and this book was like a window into their world. If you are not looking to learn about autism, then this book is isn't for you. Like another reviewer said, this probably shouldn't be your first book to read about autism either. But if you have familiarity with the topic and/or have people in your life with autism, this book is so eye-opening. I highly recommend it. ...more
Feb 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
On page 101 - "What better gift than to give someone their self?" This book is a wonderful gift to us; Donna gives us herself in a transparent and vulnerable way. I spent part of my time reading this wandering in the woods, trying to capture a sense of being nowhere. ...more
Jan 01, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
read in March 1994 because I'm interested in autism
didn't feel that I learned anything - the author just sounded like a "troubled teenager" and I know not all troubled teens are autistic
Sep 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Autobiography of a woman with autism
Gave it to Meg to read
Magz Killgore
Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Provided fantastic insight into what the world can be like for people with autism. A real learning experience for me.
May 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, 90s
The kind of book that can help neurotypicals understand their autistic friends better — and themselves too.
Lynda Stevens
I would say I got a lot more than just an autobiography about a a learning disability. physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually....there is nothing that this writer's affliction does not touch.

There are the food allergies. So in large measure this seems to be a physical issue.

She cannot make sense of things. Hence the need for remedial teaching.

And an emotional illness, meaning that true meaningful intimacy of any kind feels like death to her. Interestingly, being physically mentally and
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Interview on the film for this novel 1 8 Mar 18, 2013 04:40AM  

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Donna Williams is the author of Nobody Nowhere: The Extraordinary Autobiography of an Autistic, in which she tells of her lifelong battle with autism -- a developmental disorder originating in infancy and characterized by self-absorption, repetitive and rigidly structured behavior, language dysfunction, and an inability to interact socially. Williams depicts in her book a world of disembodied colo ...more

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