Sunday, March 4, 2007

Recommended Reading: Not Even Wrong by Paul Collins

I believe in reading widely on the topic of different learning styles and one of the advantages of this approach is occasionally you alight of a treat on a book like Paul Collins: Not Even Wrong: A father's journey into the long history of autism. (published by Bloomsbury USA in 2005). While I am not personally dealing with autism, there are always parallels in these kinds of journeys, (also it's a very wide spectrum, I would guess most artists fall somewhere along it) so I read voraciously on the topic regardless. Not Even Wrong takes the form of a hybrid of memoir and history. Collins depicts his own experience as his young son Morgan is diagnosed autistic, while he concurrently researches this book, which at times feels pleasingly like a travelogue because he crosses back and forth to England and Europe to complete his research. It's to Collins credit that his writing style is so engaging, he possesses this handy knack of putting these precise, additional details that absolutely put the reader where-ever he's describing. So whether it's the school, doctor's office, the house of eminent autism expert Dr Simon Baron-Cohen or the graveyard, where he's trying to locate the grave of a historic feral child The Wild Boy, it's all very immediate.

This is the kind of book that reminded me of how important it is to remain flexible with whatever life hurls your way. It's a very uplifting book and many parents will take courage from his experience. There are also important historical perspectives and experiences of autistics in the book reminding us that autism has a long history, perhaps one that has yet to documented extensively. A brave and intelligent book -- highly recommended.

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