Autism: The Gift That Needs To Be Opened

25602119I didn’t want to the year to go by without mentioning this book I read about autism, put out by Flanker Press and the Autism Society of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is made up of a collection of stories told by parents of children with autism, caregivers and health professionals, as well as individuals who are living with autism. By compiling their stories into a book, the authors are hoping to raise more awareness and knowledge of the disorder and those affected by it.

I found these stories touching, inspiring, enlightening, and often humorous. I have learned more about what kinds of supports are needed to help children with autism reach their full potential, and the struggles with getting some of these supports in a timely manner.

But what struck me the most after reading this was the need for full inclusion and acceptance of individuals with autism. We are all pretty aware of it by now (even if we don’t understand all the biology behind it), but do we all sincerely believe that people with autism have a valuable place in our world, and that they are as capable and deserving of a full and happy life as anyone else? This is what this book has impressed upon me and made me think about. We all need support from others in some way – people with autism are no different. In the words of Tom Jackman, one of the contributors to the book and an individual living with Asperger’s Syndrome “There is no disability, only different ability. You choose how to see it. ”  

I’ll leave you with a quote from contributor Doug McCreary, whose story of living with three sons, all with autism, is full of humour and insight: “At our house, we believe an optimist is someone who figures taking a step backward after taking a couple of steps forward is not a disaster; it’s more like a cha-cha”.

I strongly encourage you to visit, a very funny website by Doug McCreary’s son, Michael McCreary.

For further reading about autism spectrum disorder, you might want to check out NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman. Shannon recommends it, and it also won the 2015 Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction. His TED Talk about the forgotten history of autism is also excellent.

If you’re more of a fiction reader, then I highy recommend Do You Think This Is Strange? by Aaron Cully Drake. It was one of my favourite books this year.


10 thoughts on “Autism: The Gift That Needs To Be Opened

  1. susanosborne55 says:

    That’s a fine quote! I’ve often thought that films like Rain Man have lumbered people with autism and their families with a reputation they probably would rather not have. Stories of real experience are much more helpful.

    • Naomi says:

      One thing I worried about before reading the book is that the stories would all be the same, but, really, no two experiences are the same, and the stories all felt fresh.

  2. The Paperback Princess says:

    “…do we all sincerely believe that people with autism have a valuable place in our world, and that they are as capable and deserving of a full and happy life as anyone else? ” <– this.
    I would also still recommend Far From The Tree by Andrew Solomon. The whole book doesn't deal with Autism, but it is one of the sections and the whole book explores this same idea to varying degrees.
    Wonderful, thoughtful post Naomi. As per usual!

  3. Rebecca Foster says:

    I’m fascinated by books about autism, even though I have no particular connection to it. Some of my favorites are George and Sam by Charlotte Moore and Not Even Wrong by Paul Collins. Temple Grandin’s memoirs are very interesting, and I enjoyed Graeme Simsion’s pair of novels about a professor with what seems like Asperger’s.

  4. River City Reading says:

    Oh, this sounds really wonderful! There seems to be so much writing from parents of children with autism focused on navigating the struggles, which is understandable, but it’s great to see something that also looks at the ways autism can be a gift.

    • Naomi says:

      I agree, Shannon! And, I especially appreciated hearing from the individuals who are living with autism. Their perspective is so fresh and optimistic.

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