Monday, July 18, 2011

Reading list about the Autism Spectrum

I'm starting to devise a new reading list to learn more about people's experiences with the Autism spectrum. I'm specifically looking for uplifting titles, stories that explore and champion the diversity of people who are regarded as different. I don't want to read any more books about the spectrum that categorise it, or list characteristics to look out for, or how to over come it. I want to read about people who have discovered their talents and achieved things, been supported and can describe their lives as something to be proud of. There aren't many books like this around. On searching I've come across depressing titles such as, Daniel isn't talking; Let me hear your voice: a family's triumph over autism; Pretending to be normal: living with Aspergers syndrome; The out of sync child; overcoming autism; the empty fortress; Facing autism; children with starving brains, and so on. Now I can't say that I've read any of these titles, so I really cannot say with any authority that they don't contain uplifting messages, but I find most of these titles depressing.

Today I began reading the first book on my burgeoning list, Be different: adventures of a free-range Aspergian with practical advice for Aspergians, misfits, families and teachers. I know, a really long title.
It's written by John Elder Robison, brother of the famous author Augusten Burroughs, and after reading only the introduction, I can already tell that it ticks all the boxes that I am after. Feel good, tick. Experiences, tick. How life has been for him, tick. Robison himself says, "There's so much talk about the disability of Aspberger's, so much focus on what kids who are different can't do, that I thought it was time for a book about what they CAN do". I read that sentence this afternoon, and had an eye-opening moment. This is exactly what I've been after.

I blogged not too long ago that I was beginning to tell people that my son has been diagnosed with autism. This is because I feel less anxious. A year ago I was devastated, and couldn't see beyond the spectrum that was being described to me. The black and white characteristics that were blurring and blinding me to my son who is just magnificent. All mother's say that I know, but try saying it when you have spent time de-valuing a person who means so much to you. When you think that it's all just hopeless and that there is no future. I now see the amazing memory he has, the astounding capacity of loving all of us, his cheeky sense of humour, and the quiet pride that comes from his knowing his alphabet, daily increasing numbers into the hundreds and all those hues of colours.

I don't worry so much. So now I'm looking for further supportive arguments to that fact. I want to hear the stories. I am ready to hear the stories.

Besides Robison's work, I have also come across, The game of my life: the story of challenge, triumph and growing up Autistic by Jason J-Mac McElwain; Born on a blue day: inside the extraordinary mind of an autistic savant (yes I know the title does still sound depressing but I read commentary that really it's uplifting)by Daniel Tammet; Thinking in pictures: and other reports of my life with autism by Temple Grandin; and Send in the idiots: stories from the other side of autism by Kamran Nazeer.

The last reading list I devised was on Steampunk as I was keen to explore this genre. I love embarking on new reading list. I'll let you know how it goes.

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