Ever since he was small, John Robison had longed to connect with other people, but by the time he was a teenager, his odd habits, an inclination to blurt out non sequiturs, avoid eye contact, dismantle radios, and dig five-foot holes (and stick his younger brother in them) had earned him the label "social deviant." No guidance came from his mother, who conversed with light fixtures, or his father, who spent evenings pickling himself in sherry. It was no wonder he gravitated to machines, which could, at least, be counted on. After fleeing his parents and dropping out of high school, his savant-like ability to visualize electronic circuits landed him a gig with KISS, for whom he created their legendary fire-breathing guitars. Later, he drifted into a “real” job, as an engineer for a major toy company. But the higher Robison rose in the company, the more he had to pretend to be"normal" and do what he simply couldn';t: communicate. It wasn't worth the paycheck. It was not until he was forty that an insightful therapist told him he had the form of autism called Asperger's syndrome. That understanding transformed the way Robison saw himself and the world. Look Me in the Eye is the moving, darkly funny story of growing up with Asperger's at a time when the diagnosis simply didn't exist.
Temple Grandin, Ph.D., is a gifted animal scientist who has designed one third of all the livestock-handling facilities in the United States. She also lectures widely on autism, because Temple Grandin is autistic, a woman who thinks, feels, and experiences the world in ways that are incomprehensible to the rest of us. In this unprecedented book, Grandin delivers a report from the country of autism. Writing from the dual perspectives of a scientist and an autistic person, she tells us how that country is experienced by its inhabitants and how she managed to breach its boundaries to function in the outside world. What emerges in Thinking in Pictures is the document of an extraordinary human being, one who, in gracefully and lucidly bridging the gulf between her condition and our own, sheds light on the riddle of our common identity.
Daniel Tammet sees numbers as shapes, colors, and textures, and he can perform extraordinary calculations in his head. He can learn to speak new languages fluently, from scratch, in a week. In 2004, he memorized and recited more than 22,000 digits of pi, setting a record. "Born on a Blue Day" is a triumphant and uplifting story, starting from early childhood, when Daniel was incapable of making friends and prone to tantrums, to young adulthood, when he learned how to control himself and to live independently, fell in love, experienced a religious conversion to Christianity, and most recently, emerged as a celebrity. The world's leading neuroscientists have been studying Daniel's ability to solve complicated math problems in one fell swoop by seeing shapes rather than making step-by-step calculations. Here he explains how he does it, and how he is able to learn new languages so quickly, simply by absorbing their patterns. Fascinating and inspiring, Born on a Blue Day explores what it's like to be special and gives us an insight into what makes us all human -- our minds.
Written by Naoki Higashida, a very smart, very self-aware, and very charming thirteen-year-old boy with autism, it is a one-of-a-kind memoir that demonstrates how an autistic mind thinks, feels, perceives, and responds in ways few of us can imagine. Parents and family members who never thought they could get inside the head of their autistic loved one at last have a way to break through to the curious, subtle, and complex life within. Using an alphabet grid to painstakingly construct words, sentences, and thoughts that he is unable to speak out loud, Naoki answers even the most delicate questions that people want to know. Questions such as: "Why do people with autism talk so loudly and weirdly?" "Why do you line up your toy cars and blocks?" "Why don't you make eye contact when you're talking?" and "What's the reason you jump?" (Naoki's answer: "When I'm jumping, it's as if my feelings are going upward to the sky.") With disarming honesty and a generous heart, Naoki shares his unique point of view on not only autism but life itself. His insights--into the mystery of words, the wonders of laughter, and the elusiveness of memory--are so startling, so strange, and so powerful that you will never look at the world the same way again.
Ian Brown's son Walker is one of only about 300 people worldwide diagnosed with cardiofaciocutaneous (CFC) syndrome--an extremely rare genetic mutation that results in unusual facial appearance, the inability to speak, and a compulsion to hit himself constantly. At age thirteen, he is mentally and developmentally between one and three years old and will need constant care for the rest of his life. Brown travels the globe, meeting with genetic scientists and neurologists as well as parents, to solve the questions Walker's doctors can't answer. In his journey, he offers an insightful critique of society's assumptions about the disabled, and he discovers a connected community of families living with this illness. As Brown gradually lets go of his self-blame and hope for a cure, he learns to accept the Walker he loves, just as he is. Honest, intelligent, and deeply moving, The Boy in the Moon explores the value of a single human life.
When Jamie Berube; was born with Down syndrome in 1991, he was immediately subject to the medical procedures, insurance guidelines, policies, and representations that surround every child our society designates as disabled. In this wrenching yet ultimately inspiring book, Jamie's father, literary scholar Michael Berube, describes not only the challenges of raising his son but the challenge of seeing him as a person rather than as a medical, genetic, or social problem.
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, explores the clash between a small county hospital in California and a refugee family from Laos over the care of Lia Lee, a Hmong child diagnosed with severe epilepsy. Lia's parents and her doctors both wanted what was best for Lia, but the lack of understanding between them led to tragedy. Anne Fadiman's compassionate account of this cultural impasse is literary journalism at its finest. Lia Lee died on August 31, 2012. She was thirty years old and had been in a vegetative state since the age of four. Until the day of her death, her family cared for her lovingly at home.
Blake Taylor's mother first suspected he had ADHD when he, at only three years of age, tried to push his infant sister in her carrier off the kitchen table. As time went by, Blake developed a reputation for being hyperactive and impulsive. He launched rockets (accidentally) into neighbor's swimming pools and set off alarms in museums. Blake was diagnosed formally with ADHD when he was five years old. In ADHD and Me, he tells about the next twelve years as he learns to live with both the good and bad sides of life with ADHD. Blake's memoir offers, for the first time, a young person's account of what it's like to live and grow up with this common condition. Join Blake as he foils bullies, confronts unfair teachers, struggles with distraction and disorganization on exams, and goes sailing out-of-bounds and ends up with a boatload of spiders. It will be an inspiration and companion to the thousands of others like him who must find a way to thrive with a different perspective than many of us.
Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism by Ron Suskind
Publication Date: Kingswell, 2014
What if you were trapped in a Disney movie, and had to learn about life and love mostly from what could be gleaned from animated characters, dancing across a screen of colour? Asking this question opens a doorway to the most extraordinary of stories. It is the saga of Owen Suskind, who happens to be the son of one of America's most noted writers, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind. He's also autistic. The twisting, 20-year journey of this boy and his family will change that way you see autism, old Disney movies, and the power of imagination.
Call Number: HV3013.R68 A3 2013 (General, Reserves) and E-Book
Publication Date: Temple University Press, 2013
For psychotherapist, painter, feminist, filmmaker, writer, and disability activist Harilyn Rousso, hearing well-intentioned people tell her, "You're so inspirational!" is patronizing, not complimentary.In her empowering and at times confrontational memoir, Don't Call Me Inspirational, Rousso, who has cerebral palsy, describes overcoming the prejudice against disability--not overcoming disability. She addresses the often absurd and ignorant attitudes of strangers, friends, and family. Rousso also examines her own prejudice toward her disabled body, and portrays the healing effects of intimacy and creativity, as well as her involvement with the disability rights community. She intimately reveals herself with honesty and humor and measures her personal growth as she goes from "passing" to embracing and claiming her disability as a source of pride, positive identity, and rebellion. A collage of images about her life, rather than a formal portrait, Don't Call Me Inspirational celebrates Rousso's wise, witty, productive, outrageous life, disability and all.
Publication Date: University of Alaska Press, 2017
Anand Prahlad was born on a former plantation in Virginia in 1954. This memoir, vividly internal, powerfully lyric, and brilliantly impressionistic, is his story. For the first four years of his life, Prahlad didn't speak. But his silence didn't stop him from communicating--or communing--with the strange, numinous world he found around him. Ordinary household objects came to life; the spirits of long-dead slave children were his best friends. In his magical interior world, sensory experiences blurred, time disappeared, and memory was fluid. Ever so slowly, he emerged, learning to talk and evolving into an artist and educator. His journey takes readers across the United States during one of its most turbulent moments, and Prahlad experiences it all, from the heights of the Civil Rights Movement to West Coast hippie enclaves to a college town that continues to struggle with racism and its border state legacy. Rooted in black folklore and cultural ambience, and offering new perspectives on autism and more, The Secret Life of a Black Aspie will inspire and delight readers and deepen our understanding of the marginal spaces of human existence.
Rachel Simon's sister Beth is a spirited woman who lives intensely and often joyfully. Beth, who has mental retardation, spends her days riding the buses in her Pennsylvania city. The drivers, a lively group, are her mentors; her fellow passengers are her community. One day, Beth asked Rachel to accompany her on the buses for an entire year. This wise, funny, deeply affecting book is the chronicle of that remarkable time. Rachel, a writer and college teacher whose hyperbusy life camouflaged her emotional isolation, had much to learn in her sister’s extraordinary world. These are life lessons from which every reader can profit: how to live in the moment, how to pay attention to what really matters, how to change, how to love--and how to slow down and enjoy the ride. Elegantly woven throughout the odyssey are riveting memories of terrifying maternal abandonment, fierce sisterly loyalty, and astonishing forgiveness. Rachel Simon brings to light the almost invisible world of mental retardation, finds unlikely heroes in everyday life, and, without sentimentality, portrays Beth as the endearing, feisty, independent person she is. This heartwarming book about the unbreakable bond between two very different sisters takes the reader on an inspirational journey at once unique and universal.