Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Book Review: We've Been Here All Along: Autistics over 35 Speak Out in Poetry and Prose


We've Been Here All Along: Autistics over 35 Speak Out in Poetry and Prose
Edited by Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg

Last time on this blog I lamented the "epidemic of autism" and the fact that it promotes flawed concept that autism is only a relatively recent "difference" in our society.

In fact Autism has been with us for a very, very long time, some say since the dawn of humanity.

We've Been Here All Along is a collection of stories and poems from 22 people with autism who are over 35 years of age. People born before the late 1970s. Before the "epidemic of autism" and before Asperger's Syndrome was even recognised as a possible diagnosis.

This is a collection unlike any other, full of amazing stories of men and women from all walks of life coping and not coping with the "curve-balls" that modern society throws them. It contains some amazing displays of empathy, so long considered impossible for those in the spectrum and the stories often highlight the ways in which society meets or misses the needs of individuals with autism.  I was particularly impressed to see so many stories by females on the spectrum - a group which is sadly under-represented in most books on autism.

Many of these stories and poems are about how these individuals have all found happiness, satisfaction and acceptance on their own terms and the hurdles they have had to overcome to get there. Not one of these individuals is resentful of their autism and all seem to have benefited greatly from knowing and understanding their label.

This is a very positive book which parents of children with autism should most certainly get. It provides a very clear roadmap to success and it closes with a chilling example of exactly how the wrong social mindset can destroy the life of an otherwise perfectly capable young person.  Each of the people in this book could well have met similar fates if our society hadn't become more mature and more tolerant in recent years.

I would urge everyone to pick up a copy of this brilliant book. It offers so much that other autism publications simply do not.

We've Been Here All Along is available as a paperback or a kindle ebook from Amazon and as an ebook on Kobo.

Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg blogs at: http://www.disabilityandrepresentation.com/

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Did you ever consider this: Maybe Autism is the original form.

Maybe the so-called NTs are the new modification. Then there is logic in ASS people nog coping, in not keeping up these days.

Isn't it true that many people with ASS feel much more comfortable around animals, who do not make life unnecessarily difficult, who do not gossip, who do not change their ways because of "what neighbours might say"?

And wouldn't you be very happy to have had an Autist husband back in the Stone Age? Hardworking, honest, not bothering with small talk but taking care of food and shelter. I would!

Asperger+ said...

Socialites may indeed be a recent adaptation. Started by Shakespeare and the romantic chivalric poets of Medieval France. Old fashioned paternalism has strong autistic streaks. Societies bound by honor and honesty get into conflict a lot, don't show a lot of empathy and look down on the qualities of "the weaker sex". Don't England, Japan, maybe Germany show signs of being very receptive to asperger like behaviors?

Jennifer said...

I am definitely getting this book! I can't wait to read it. I am almost 50 and female and until my older son (who is now 25) was diagnosed with AS I had never heard of it. When I looked into it further it became very obvious that I was actually more of a textbook case than my son. My Dad also shows a lot of signs. I don't think there is an "epidemic" of Autism - I think psychs have just moved away from blanket terms like 'retarded,' which was the only term used when I was a kid. We used to live near a woman who adopted mentally handicapped kids who had all sorts of problems but they were all just designated as 'retarded,' no matter how high functioning they were.

I will say, however, that the idea of having AS has never made me feel like "Aha! Now I get why I am the way I am!" I hate it. I hate hate the idea of destiny and never being able to break out of this horrible AS shell. I hate that I can't make myself not meltdown in public places where music is blaring or that I feel like passing out when I am in crowds of strangers. I am old enough that I can pretend all is well, but inside I want to freak out and just slap the shit out of everyone. I get so pissed off at AS blogs by women (God help me if I ever meet a person who really uses the term Aspie) who want to make AS into something better than it is. They're like the cheerleader mom who pretends you're not ugly and dateless on prom night and says it will all be okay.

Anyway, I am ranting and a little cranky today. GREAT blog. Thanks for taking the time to do it -- it's appreciated.