Being Seen: Memoir of an Autistic Mother, Immigrant, And Zen Student

Being Seen: Memoir of an Autistic Mother, Immigrant, And Zen Student

by Anlor Davin

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Being Seen is a memoir about a woman with autism struggling not only to be seen, but to be understood and respected. Anlor Davin grew up in a small town on the Western coast of France. From earliest childhood she was beset by overwhelming sensory chaos and had trouble navigating the social world. Only many years later did she learn that she was autistic. Throughout childhood, Anlor struggled to hold her world together and in many ways succeeded: she became an accomplished young tennis player, competing even at the level of the French Open. However, in addition to her autism a dark history hung over her family—a history that she did not fully understand for years to come. Without yet having a name for her world-shattering condition, Anlor headed to a new life in America. But she now had to contend with the raw basics of survival in a new culture, speaking a new language, and without support from her family. Through incredible effort, Anlor was able to parlay her knowledge of the French language into a job teaching in the notorious South Side neighborhood of Chicago, one of America's most violent. Anlor married, had a child, and even dreamed that she might be able to pass as a neurotypical person. The grim toll of daily compensating for her autism and “pretending to be normal” proved too great a challenge and Anlor’s life imploded. She spiraled downward into a kind of hell, losing her marriage and her beloved son. Desperate, Anlor moved west to California, where she found a mysterious and ancient tradition of spiritual practice from the Far East—zen. Through this profound meditation and community she was able to slowly rebuild her life, this time with honest acceptance of the challenge she faced. The path took her through extreme emotional and physical duress but—at last—led to proper medical diagnosis and treatment of her autism. Today, Anlor works to help people understand her way of being, and the value of basic meditative practice in living and thriving with autism.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780991436941
Publisher: BookBaby
Publication date: 03/04/2016
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 200
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Anlor (from Anne-Laure) Davin is autistic. She was diagnosed at age 46, a life-changing, and life-saving, event she traces to her Zen practice of the years preceding. Anlor is an immigrant, born in France in 1964. During Anlor’s childhood her native France was in the grip of oppressive and now discredited theories about autism. Anlor instinctively knew she had to flee France in order to survive.
Upon arrival to the Unites States in 1987, Anlor lived in Chicago, Illinois, were she married and had a son. The ensuing eighteen years of child-rearing, a tremendous challenge for an autistic mother, overwhelmed her and her life slowly but surely unraveled. Forever searching for answers to the challenges of an undiagnosed autistic life she moved to San Francisco, California, in 1999. There she started a Zen practice while she eventually became very ill and “hit bottom.” In March 2000 a painful and debilitating movement disorder appeared in her left upper body.
Anlor was finally formally diagnosed in 2010. With proper medical care and many other supports her life improved unexpectedly and dramatically. This healthy outcome and Anlor’s later fullness of life give her a secure place to stand and reflect with greater clarity on her journey. She now lives near San Francisco with her partner, her son living nearby.

Table of Contents

Introduction xi

Part I France, Birth and Youth, 1964-1987 1

Chapter 1 First Five Years 3

Chapter 2 Social Exposure and Elementary School 9

Chapter 3 A Sensitive Child with a Need for Much Activity 15

Chapter 4 A New Home for a Divided Family 23

Chapter 5 A Middle School near the Atlantic Ocean 29

Chapter 6 I Have Friends but I am Depressed 37

Chapter 7 Tennis Scene, High School and Turmoil 43

Chapter 8 I Learn of my Father's Secret Past and I Fall Apart 49

Chapter 9 Picking Myself Up and Attending College in Nantes 57

Part II Chicago: A Young Adult, 1987-1999 63

Chapter 10 First Impressions, First Marriage 65

Chapter 11 Healthier and Constantly Moving 71

Chapter 12 Short-Lived, Full-Time Jobs and Second Marriage 75

Chapter 13 Birth of a Son and Stressed Relationship 81

Chapter 14 Finishing my Studies and Becoming a Single Mother 89

Chapter 15 A Challenging First Year Teaching 95

Chapter 16 Teaching in a Second School and Attempting Stability 103

Chapter 17 Car Problems and an Out of State Move 109

Part III California: Hitting Bottom before Proper Formal Diagnosis: 1999-2010 115

Chapter 18 Six Months at the Zen Center Followed by Neck and Spine Trauma 117

Chapter 19 San Francisco Housing Challenges and Childlessness 125

Chapter 20 University and Last Full-Time Job 129

Chapter 21 Getting Ready for my Son and an Odyssey 133

Chapter 22 Surviving with Matthieu and Moving Again 139

Chapter 23 Exhausted and Paralyzed 145

Chapter 24 "AGRUAR" and Communication Challenges 151

Chapter 25 Coping with Illness and Headgear 159

Chapter 26 My Search Leads to the Discovery of Autism for Myself (and my Father) 165

Chapter 27 Social Security and Formal Diagnosis 171

Afterword: A New Lease on Life 177

About the Author 181

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Being Seen: Memoir of an Autistic Mother, Immigrant, And Zen Student 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
ReadersFavorite More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Kimberlee J Benart for Readers' Favorite Being Seen is a fascinating and eye-opening memoir by Anlor Davin, a woman not formally diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder until she was forty-six years old. Born in 1964 and exhibiting hypersensitivity as a child, Davin struggled throughout her life with the results of what appeared to others as obsessive-compulsive behavior. Even though she was intelligent, fluent in two languages, and certified as a teacher, Davin struggled to work full time to support herself and a son. She didn’t understand why she was different from other people, and doctors misdiagnosed her symptoms. “I felt like a sick tree whose roots, where the real problem lay, were not seen,” she explains. Davin began the study of Zen Buddhism at thirty-five and describes it as life-changing. In Being Seen, Davin looks back on her life in frank detail through the lens of autism. Her writing is straightforward and heartfelt. Several photographs are sprinkled throughout which help to make her real to the reader. I was amazed at Davin’s strength and persistence as she lost one friend, one job, and one living space after another. It opened my eyes and heart to how I look at others whose behavior I might not yet understand, and I was grateful for those who helped her along the way. Parents of hypersensitive children would benefit from her comments on her own childhood; and whether you think you’ll ever know someone with autism, this book will both educate you and touch your heart. A moving read. Highly recommended.