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This website is dedicated to promoting inclusive schooling and exploring positive ways of supporting students with autism and other disabilities. Most of my work involves collaborating with schools to create environments, lessons, and experiences that are inclusive, respectful, and accessible for all learners.

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Day 20: Life Behind Glass: A Personal Account of Autism Spectrum Disorder

Posted on April 20, 2014 in Autism

Life Behind Glass coverI am always surprised by how few people are familiar with Wendy Lawson’s Life Behind Glass. It is a short and illuminating read and nearly everyone I have shared it with has found it to be both poignant and useful. It is little-known books like Life Behind Glass that made me want to dedicate an entire month to spotlighting autobiographies.

Wendy is brutally honest in her story. She details her time in a mental institution and the difficulties she experienced in getting the right diagnosis. There is a lot of pain and confusion in these pages.

The book, however, is about much more than Wendy’s challenges. There are many notes of celebration in this book, making the story rich, complex and very human. In one of my favorite passages, for instance, Wendy shares how her different way of viewing the world allows her to find and recognize beauty in places others may not look:

Glancing at the ground as I walked along, I noticed some movement at my feet and saw the last exit moments of a cicada crawling out of a hole in the ground. I watched this creature transform before my eyes from a dull brownish-green bug into a beautiful bright green and gold, singing creation. The process took only one and a half hours. I have since heard that people thought my standing in the heat for one and a half hours to watch an insect was a crazy thing to do. I think it is they who are crazy. By choosing not to stand and watch, they missed out on sharing an experience that was so beautiful and exhilarating. (p. 115)

** Idea for using this book: This book may be useful for the doctors in your life. Like Wendy, many people on the spectrum are misdiagnosed throughout their life spans. Keep in mind of course, that some on the spectrum are diagnosed with mental health conditions, when autism is the correct diagnosis. At the same time, many on the spectrum do have other diagnoses that can be missed because of their autism diagnosis. Both scenarios always need to be considered.

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