My sister and I believe my dad, now deceased, had Asperger’s Syndrome (AS), a largely hereditary form of high-functioning autism in which people function within a socially acceptable norm, but have a neurological disconnect that messes with their ability to communicate with others at a fundamental level. In Pretending to be Normal, Liane Holliday Willey describes what it’s like to be AS, and to such a deep degree the reader can’t help but be absorbed into the confusing, perilous world where she fought daily to understand and be understood until coming to terms with who she is.
The memoir takes readers through Willey’s youth, marriage and birth of three daughters. When her six-year-old is diagnosed with AS, the author realizes she’s neurologically atypical, too. Rather than dark, her beautifully-written story is filled with light, insight and encouragement about a condition that affects millions of people worldwide:
No matter the hardships, I do not wish for a cure to Asperger’s Syndrome. What I wish for, is a cure for the common ill that pervades too many lives,; the ill that makes people compare themselves to a normal that is measured in terms of perfect and absolute standards, most of which are impossible for anyone to reach. I thik it would be far more productive and so much more satisfying to live according to a new set of ideals that are anchored in far more subjective criteria, the fluid and the affective domains of life, the stuff of wonder… curiosity…creativity…invention…originality. Perhaps then, we will all find peace and joy in one another.
A professor of psycholinguistics and learning style differences, Willey seeks to educate people who don’t have AS so they’ll be more accepting. The author also includes tips for success for AS when they go to college, look for jobs and establish a home. Then Willey finishes the book with a long list of resources and organizations and a glossary of terms.
For those readers who loved to be pulled into another life, world or universe, this book is for you!
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