A Different Childhood: Autism from the Inside: The Story of an Amazing Childhoodby Iris Johansson
What's wrong with Iris? She is difficult to make contact with, she talks gibberish. She refuses food, she wets herself, screams for almost everything, bites small children, and never does what she is told. And why can she in short rare moments solve problems, which not even grown-ups manage? How can she learn so many complicated words that she's heard only once? Why was she already as a small child a full-fledged liar and con artist?
PURPOSE OF THE BOOK: A different childhood is a fascinating autobiographical depiction of what it's like to grow up with autism. A true story about the transformative power of love and a unique document from the inside about an autistic child's life and struggle create for herself a place in the world.
The purpose of the book is to serve as a kind of dictionary of autism for parents and educators.
Today we know that autism is something other than either psychosis or development disturbance, and that the level of intelligence can be very high. We know that autism involves reduced communications and social capacity. We know that people with autism may experience visual, aural and emotional inputs in a different and often painful way.
But how do autistic persons themselves perceive their surroundings. Why do they react the way they do? What do they see? What do they comprehend? What causes their behaviors? How do they experience them? “A different childhood” describes the inner world of one high-functioning autistic, in a way that gives parents and educators an insight that can be helpful in decoding the needs and issues that give rise autistic stereotypy and stimming. It can serve almost as a dictionary for those who have autistics in their care, a lexicon that can help them interpret the often wordless expressions they are puzzled or frustrated by. Chapter nine explicitly addresses this need in the form answers to the most frequently asked questions about autism.
- Inkwell Productions, LLC
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.50(w) x 7.50(h) x 1.20(d)
Read an Excerpt
I have a clear memory of Iris. I knew what kind of thing Iris was, but not what “I” was. “I” everyone said of themselves so that didn't mean anything to me, but Iris, that was she, that was the girl. In Iris' world there were no humans as humans, there were only things, one thing at a time, which sometimes stood still, and which you could smell, bite into, hold, or throw away. Sometimes it moved and made a sound, and then it was more pleasant, because when it made a lot of sound it created such a beautiful light all around, and ribbons of light formed such beautiful patterns which moved continuously in swirling shapes. It was like fireworks and like colors, although it wasn't colors, it was like a light although it wasn't light and it looked totally different every time, although it was the same for the same person, and it filled Iris' whole mind. Somebody jerked Iris away, she was not to do this, but Iris liked to do this, it got so nice and she could not desist. Saying that she wasn't allowed meant nothing; it disappeared from her head immediately.
The girl liked to ride on the father's back. There she bounced up and down. The father talked continuously, but not to her. He talked aloud about his musings, answered the radio, and talked with the cows, with the cat, with everything it was possible to talk with.
“Now, let's see if Majros got an extra goodie, she eats kind of slow, and she will soon have a calf, so we need to make sure she gets something even if she does eat slow.”
“My, there comes the old cat, I haven't seen her for days, she's been out running around, we'd better give her some extra milk and a little cream; we can afford that. How ragged she looks … poor thing.”
Then he knelt down by her dish and petted her while she was lapping up the milk and purred as only cats can.
The girl sat there and her cheek became warm from the father's warmth and she heard his booming voice. She was with him in a rhythm, in a dance, when he was moving and walking and talking, and it got light inside. The atmosphere all around took on a special light and it moved like the ocean swells. It was like intoxication. She drifted in it and floated around in something very pleasant. It was like hovering in a dream even though she was awake. All that is normally present in the waking state was there but it didn't mean anything to her. The state she floated in was the only thing that existed. Sometimes she felt the warmth of his skin, sometimes a smell, and odor that tickled her nose, sometimes she bit into her hand and got a lovely sensation of pain.
Occasionally the father went to the granary and ground some flour. Then the air turned white and there was a bunch of funny shapes. There was an entirely different smell and it was cold in a different way. The father had a different voice and the girl laughed.
The girl heard sounds, usual sounds, sounds that disrupted the familiar, sounds she recognized and came to her and went in through the ear and became something inside. She loved this. She did not understand that the sound came from her, that it was she who was screaming, or that it was she who was banging her head against the cabinet door so it rattled. Everything else disappeared and she became light and glad inside.
Something had changed in the girl's world, had taken on a different meaning. The father had a form that the girl could recognize and be delighted by when it came back. She could distinguish his form as separate from all other forms, which also were distinguishable but without significance.
Usually the girl had a kind of thick fog around her which caused her to be alone; she saw, heard, or felt nothing except the ghosts that emerged in the fog. Sometimes the fog was transformed into the most beautiful projector-images you could imagine. But on another level she saw, heard, and understood much more than children in general. But there was no one on the outside who could sense it and the girl herself had no consciousness of it.
It was so calm and secure and nice inside this fog that it was painfully uncomfortable when somebody tried to enter. It was also paradoxical, because on the other hand she experienced a special calm when somebody had penetrated the fog. This is so hard to understand for those around her that it must be explained again and again.
Meet the Author
Iris Johansson was born 1945 in Sweden and is diagnosed as autistic. Overcoming this handicap by using her intelligence to solve the problem of how to “behave normally,” she has in the process figured out how people really communicate. Iris has transformed her handicap into a highly sought-after capability, which has enabled her to establish an international career as consultant, lecturer, and workshop leader. She is currently teaching a series of courses on the subject communication as art and is in the process of completing her second book called A DIFFERENT LIFE.
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