Monday, June 14, 2010

Book Review: Nobody Nowhere by Donna Williams

The joy of reading is how it allows us all to experience the world from within another’s perspective. When an autobiography is authentic and genuine, the reader can immerse in the writer’s reality.

Nobody Nowhere: The Extraordinary Autobiography of an Autistic, by Donna Williams, is one of those books. Alternately engaging and informative, as well as confusing and disturbing, Nobody Nowhere pulls its readers into Donna Williams’ world.

Published in 1992, the book is certainly out of date in some ways, particularly the more technical aspects surrounding the diagnosis. (The author has published a number of books since this, her first, and, although I haven’t read them, I would imagine they’re more accurate and up to date with more current knowledge about the condition.) The more timeless aspects of the book are the more personal, where Williams relates her own experiences, her connection to things rather than people, her struggles to feel safe and also to connect.

Often the book feels disjointed and confusing, in part because of the unclear timelines, as well as the author’s habit of referring to herself by various names and in the third person. Rather than detract from the book, this confusion adds to the experiential nature of the book, although it can be disturbing to read of the abuse and mistreatment the author endured.

The final section of the book presents the author’s own theories about autism as well as her suggestions for communicating with autistic children. Of course, the autism spectrum is very broad, but especially for parents looking to understand their own child, Williams’ suggestions may provide some valuable insights.