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Book Review - Laughing and Loving with Autism
"This is a book intended to be a source of smiles, laughter, sharing and maybe a few warm tears—relax and enjoy."This is taken from the introduction from R. Wayne Gilpin the author of Laughing and Loving with Autism. He is the father to an adult son with autism known throughout the book as Alex. Due in part to the encouragement of friends after hearing many “Alex stories” he advertised in the Autism Society of America periodical, The Advocate, for contributors for a compilation of stories.
“Often authors claim that their books are labors of love. That has never been as true as it is with this offering. The contributors show their greatest strength in facing autism: humor.” Consisting of one hundred twenty seven pages the “Alex stories” are set in font typeface. The contributors’ name and location are offered below their anecdotes. There are a few illustrations to shape the story, such as the one when Alex was nine years old and preferred to have his clothes off. This particular incident happened when they were at a hotel and Alex opened the door for the maid with no clothing on. This one happens to be in the section entitled, Sexual/ “Improper” Language.
There are stories devoted to laughing, music, church, facilitated communication, home, out in the “real” world and school. Another amusing illustration shows a boy standing up in church raising his hands like the priest. The boy thought he was cheering like his father did when watching football so he yelled out “touchdown” thinking this was a signal.
One father heard his non-verbal son utter “Oh” when his vehicle bumped into the back of another. He was so excited to hear his son speak that he almost forgot about the accident and this made his son laugh. A family in Iowa was attending a school football game when the father mentioned to get ready for the bomb and his twelve year-old son took this literally, as any autistic person would, running to the field stating, "There’s going to be a bomb, an explosion?"
A girl five years of age had a fascination with perfume and visited all the cosmetic counters with her mother. The day she received a new classroom aide she announced the name of the fragrance she was wearing to the rest of the class. A single father in Utah shared how his neighbor, Donny Osmond would come over and sing to his autistic son.
Laughing and Loving with Autism was written in 1993 with another book entitled, More Stories a year later. There is even one story that is dated back to 1965 when a new family member due to marriage was brought into the home. There was a pop type noise in the next room, thus the need to explain to the new in-law that the autistic son was peeing on the electric light bulb to hear an explosion he had learned the day before.
Reading through Laughing and Loving with Autism gives the perspective on seeing the world through the eyes of someone who is autistic, whether they are a child or adult, boy or girl. As a parent it is very easy to relate to these stories and see this happening in my future as well. The contributions were not altered in any way with the original content they submitted still intact.
While there are many books on the subject of Autism this is one that I truly appreciated and would rather see on the coffee table than a textbook that is outdated. These stories are priceless no matter how old they are. I knew exactly the outcome when a father stated at bedtime, "last one in bed is a rotten egg". To the autistic person this statement is taken literally, with the response in this instance being, "Okay, what’s the first one?"
Laughing and Loving with Autism is a book to be shared with teachers, therapists, family members and professionals to better understand the humorous side to the autistic person. This is the perfect book to read at the end of the evening to put it all in perspective, "drawing comfort from the love and laughter that gives us strength".
Originally published on Epinions
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