Mini Review: M Is for Autism

Recently I read Kathryn Erskine’s book Mockingbird, which is told from the perspective of a 10-year-old Aspie girl named Caitlin.  I still haven’t figured out how I feel about that book.  I’m always excited (and a little anxious) when I see a book featuring an autistic character, especially a girl.  But like I said, I don’t know how I feel about that one.  There were certainly moments where I thought, “Yes!  That’s exactly how it is!” but . . . well, I’ll let you be the judge.  It’s worth a read, though I warn you it is emotionally exhausting (she recently lost her brother in a school shooting).

When I was reading a few reviews of Mockingbird, hoping they would help me process my own thoughts and feelings, I saw something about another book, M is for Autism.  This book was written by a group of autistic girls and their creative writing tutor, because there aren’t enough books for teenage girls with autism.  That fact right there made me love the book even before I opened it.  When I did open it, I was surprised to see that it is full of color – not just the illustrations, but the pages themselves.  I LOVE that.  In fact, there’s a lot I love about this book.

m is for autism
Things I love about this book:

  • It’s colorful!  Every page has color.
  • M is a believable autistic character.  She has autistic traits without fulfilling EVERY stereotype, and has specific, unique quirks and interests.
  • I was pleasantly surprised that the mother gets to narrate a few pages.  I appreciated getting to hear her perspective, and it is very realistic – a mother who truly loves and wants to help her daughter, but just gets so darn frustrated and doesn’t always understand her.
  • Her therapist is wonderful. I wish I had her.
  • “It’s not an illness.  It’s more a way of being. It’s your wonderful state of mind, the way you view the world. That’s not being ill.”
  • It emphasizes that autism isn’t really the problem, anxiety is.
  • It touches on topics like social confusion, teasing, stimming, coping strategies, sensory issues, diagnosis, labels, therapy, support, and the complexity of it all.
  • This quote:

“I think you’re struggling too much. Everyone has a bad day, week, month even year but this is too much M. This is constant stress and anxiety. Life shouldn’t be too much of a struggle M.”

She’s right. Less of a struggle would be good. Life is a struggle when you’re trying to be normal.

 

The book made me smile, but it also made me hurt for my own 13-year-old self.
My only complaint is that it’s short – you can read it in a single sitting.  That isn’t a criticism of the book; I think it is long enough to fulfill its purpose.  That’s just a personal desire to read more about M and her journey 🙂
If you’d like to learn more about the writing of the book, here’s an article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/health/what-is-it-like-to-be-a-girl-with-autism/

 

After writing this, I think I’ve figured out one of my thoughts about MockingbirdMockingbird feels like it was written by an NT for NTs – to help them better understand autistic kids, sure, but it’s for NTsM is for Autism is absolutely 100% for autistic girls.  It can help NTs better understand autistic kids, but that is for the sake of the autistic kids.

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Resising Gossip

And now for something completely different. . .

This isn’t specifically about Asperger’s, but something I’m really excited about and want to share with you.

I was super-excited to get my autographed copy before release day!

I was honored to be his official photographer 🙂

My pastor is awesome.  I won’t get into all the reasons why here, so you’ll have to take my word for it right now.  He recently wrote a book called Resisting Gossip.  You should read it.   Here’s the review I wrote for Amazon:

I am one of the happy members of Lanse Evangelical Free Church, we who call Dr. Mitchell “Pastor Matt.” During the process of getting this book published, he gave our Bible Study group updates and prayer requests. I loved sharing the joy of finally seeing this book become a reality! More than that, I loved discovering that Pastor Matt writes the same way he preaches and counsels- with a conversational tone, appropriate and effective use of Scripture, and an obvious heart of concern for others.

In this book, Pastor Matt:
defines gossip
explains the different heart motivations behind our gossip
provides real strategies for resisting gossip
advises on how to respond when we are the subject of gossip
teaches how to repent of our gossip
includes a section for leaders to help cultivate gossip-resistant churches

All of this is done with carefully-chosen anecdotes and Scripture references. The verses aren’t taken out of context to support his points or thrown in as an afterthought; instead, it is clear that Pastor Matt learned what he is teaching from studying the Word.

This book is easy to read yet rich in content. It is sharply convicting yet full of grace and hope. It teaches timeless truths that are extremely timely in our current culture. I can’t recommend it highly enough!

◊♦◊♦◊♦◊♦◊

A few years ago, I asked my facebook friends for podcast recommendations.  One (also single) friend suggested the Boundless Show.  I checked it out and enjoyed it enough to keep listening.  A few months ago I was taking a walk and on the show they were interviewing a guy who just published a book.  I thought, “Hey!  Pastor Matt just wrote a book.  They should interview him!”  I got on their website and sent them an e-mail about the book, thinking it was a long-shot but couldn’t hurt.  After a few exchanges back and forth and having the publisher send them a review copy, we finally heard back that they wanted to get him on the interview calendar in early 2014.  I was *so excited* when I read the email! (For those of you who know about stims, my excitement translated to approximately 3 claps, 5 hand-flaps, and 4 knee-slaps.)

P. Matt asked me to suggest a few shows to listen to to prepare for the interview.  That inspired him to write this blog post (and that blog post helped solidify my decision to cut back on facebook time somehow; my solution was to delete the app from my iPhone to make it less convenient to check constantly.  But I digress.)

And here it is, his Boundless Show interview.  I am thrilled that I was able to help make it happen, and I hope that many people are blessed by his wisdom, as I have been.  Enjoy!

(click the image to go to the page to listen/download, or click here to download the podcast via iTunes- it’s on “An Unexpected Love Story: Episode 313”)

Mini-Review: Born on a Blue Day

Born on a Blue Day by Daniel Tammet is one of the books I requested for Christmas. Reading the first chapter, my thought was, “Wow, this guy’s brain is so different than mine. I really can’t relate to what he’s saying, but it will be fascinating to continue reading about such a unique mind.” A few pages into the second chapter, my thoughts changed to, “Wow, I really relate to this guy!”

This was a wonderful read. To me, one of the many reasons is he’s in my age group- he was born a few years before me, but wrote the book when he was slightly younger than I am now. I enjoyed having that common ground. I was amazed by how eloquently and understandably he explains what it’s like inside his extraordinary savant mind. The first chapter was a bit awkward to get through, but reflecting back on the entire book I believe it was exactly the right choice – it sets the stage that this young man is *different*, which makes the later moments so meaningful.  He’s not only brilliant, but incredibly brave.

One thing that struck me early on was how blessed he was to have his parents. They seem like those unsung, everyday heroes: the parents who love their children unconditionally, respect their unique needs, encourage them to take baby-steps out of their comfort zones, and make sacrifices to help them succeed.  That’s one of the things Daniel and I have in common.

Near the end of the book he describes his experiences filming this documentary, Brainman – I can’t wait to watch it!

Mini-Review: Adam

Today I’m home from work (due to the extreme cold weather) and watching movies with Mom.  I introduced her to the film Adam; it was my third viewing, but the the first time I actually sat and watched the screen the whole time instead of sewing or working on digital photos.

I love our local video rental store

I love our local video rental store

I’m not going to write a thorough review – I’m sure you can find great in-depth reviews elsewhere.  But I do recommend this film!  “The problem is, I think he’s adorable” – Mom, who married an Aspie.  “I know, me too!” – me, who has dated Aspies.  We both agreed that Hugh Dancy does a wonderful job of realistically playing someone on the spectrum.  He and the filmmakers successfully portray many facets of life with Asperger’s, such as: routines, trouble with finding/keeping jobs, the benefit of a mentor, special interests, not recognizing social cues or having a “filter” in conversation, “mind blindness,” intolerance of lying, wanting to do or say the right thing but having to ask what that is, sensory overload, and meltdowns. His co-star, Rose Byrne, really captures what it’s like to be intrigued and charmed by an interesting and sweet Aspie like Adam.  The film strikes a delicate balance between being about love and being about Asperger’s, and I think it does it well.  Perhaps best of all it is realistic about the complexities of such a relationship.

You can find this movie on Amazon (DVD or streaming video) and iTunes to rent or buy.  Or if you’re fortunate like us to still have one, check out your local video rental store!