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NOBODY NOWHERE by Donna Williams

NOBODY NOWHERE

The Extraordinary Autobiography of an Autistic

By Donna Williams

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-8129-2042-2
Publisher: Times/Henry Holt

 The singular battle of an autistic woman to connect with ``out there''--the world and the people outside her frightened self. From birth, autistics exhibit, among other symptoms, extreme lack of emotional response, repetitive behavior, and speech that mirrors what is being said to them. The symptoms mask what is often average or above-average intelligence, a conflict leading to rage, destructive behavior, and often, in children, to institutionalization. Williams believes that she was able to emerge from her autistic fortress in large part because of--ironically-- her abusive mother. As a little girl, she warded off her mother's physical and verbal blows by assuming personalities that were acceptable to the outside world. Although her emotional core remained untouched most of the time, the need to act ``normal'' prevented her from totally retreating into a world where ``gentleness, kindness and affection'' had no part. Williams's role-playing helped her to get through school, including college, to get jobs and lovers, and finally to accept and give--on a limited basis--affection in her own person, as Donna. Fragmented and emotionally distant (``Welcome to my world,'' says Williams), the author's story offers insight into the autistic experience. The last chapters address specifically why typical autistic behavior, such as switching lights on and off, is comforting. How to deal with autistics? Through psychological warfare, Williams says, though that warfare must be waged with patience and a plan. A recounting of an amazing struggle that will help the frustrated parents, teachers, and clinicians understand more clearly what those unresponsive ``dead eyes'' see. A worthy complement to Judy and Sean Barron's There's a Boy in Here (p. 83). (Sixteen pages of b&w photographs--not seen.)