This is such a lovely, strong, positive look at the autistic experience. It is practical and well informed, realistic and yet inspirational.
This book is no less than an inspiration. The author, Jasmine Lee O'Neill, is severely autistic and does not use spoken language. However, she writes and draws delightfully and has a sense of her own worth and of her particular place in the world which many so-called 'normal' people would be hard put to equal. The author draws us into her inner world and explains the threatening and confusing nature of the outside world for a young autistic child. We are given insight into their often overwhelming emotions and sensory sensitivities. The whole book is suffused with gentleness and of respect for the autistic person's difference. There is also the understanding that it can be difficult for parents, particularly during the teenage years. I do not agree with everything Jasmine Lee O'Neill says. I do for instance believe that people with autism do need to some degree to learn to adapt to an alien world. However, the plea for acceptance of people who are different is one that desperately needs to be heard. Do read it, especially if you feel that people with autism should be changed into what they are not. Your perceptions may be altered.
She offers a rich and very positive description of her experiences as a person with autism and how friends, family and the professionals who work with autistic people can be more sensitive to their needs. Rather than focusing on the frequently described negative deficits of autism, she argues that 'normalizing' autistic people - pushing them into behaving in a way that is 'alien' to their true natures - is not just ineffective but wrong. Jasmine challenges the reader to accept their difference and to celebrate their uniqueness. The book contains a wealth of insights into the autistic world and touches on all the main topics of concern for people with autism. She identifies the reasons for particular characteristic behaviour and how the autistic person should be encouraged to adapt such behaviours.
British Journal of Occupational Therapy
Jasmine is an intelligent, creative, mute autistic, who introduces us to the complexity of autism - the individuality, self-absorption, intensity and paradox. In a simple, clear and easy-to-understand style, she covers specific topics including emotions, communication and language, the teenage years and special traits. Throughout Jasmine presents the positive aspects of autism whilst acknowledging the enormous challenge of the outside world to people with autism. Jasmine describes with enthusiasm the joy than can be found in the special gifts that are part of the autistic personality and explains the confusion and distress that can be caused to people with autism by the chaos of the world and lack of understanding. Jasmine challenges us to see autism not as an illness or as a fault but as a uniqueness of personality which should be valued and respected for its strengths. She invites us to change our perception of autism and to accept and embrace its beauty and difference.
Jasmine Lee O'Neill is autistic and proud of it. This very positive attitude permeates her book and in it she provides a spirited defence of autism and rejoices in the quirks that make people what they are. She is realistic and down to earth and well-informed on current thinking. O'Neill's main argument is against the need to "treat" autism. Professionals have much to learn from her in this respect. She provides general and specific ideas and information for intervention. The chapters on sense organs and on relationships are particularly useful. She ends the book with a stirring epilogue written to her "fellow autistics" urging them to revel in their autism, accept their differences and open up to opportunities available to them through these very differences. Ms O'Neill's refreshing insightful viewpoint expressed in this book makes it another postcard from the edge in the tradition of those from Temple Grandin and Donna Williams, but with a joyous twist.