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AUTISM & ASPERGER SYNDROME

Included in this section are resources that address autism and Asperger syndrome and gender, together with very controversial works concerning gender, cognition and the brain and references to research concluding that autism seems more prevalent in males than females. And there already exists several autobiographies of autistic women, but now even more biographies of autistic women are being published. These stories, both old and new, are included in this section. Also included is a review of Refrigerator Mothers, a powerful film concerning mothers of autistic children who dealt with challenges in an era where their inadequacy was touted as the cause of their child’s autism as well as Autism is a World, an autobiographical film of Sue Rubin, a teenager with autism. 



Attwood, T., Grandin, T., Faherty, C., Wagner, S., Wrobel, M., Bolick, T., et al. (2006). Asperger's and girls. Houston: Future Horizons, Inc.

Because the majority of those diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders are boys and men, the voices of girls on the spectrum have been practically inaudible—until now. At long last, here is a book that provides women on the autism spectrum the opportunity to tell the world about their experiences, good and bad. Their candid reflections will warm your heart while giving you a backstage pass to another realm. Leading professionals in the field punctuate this masterpiece with fascinating articles that offer insightful advice. Finally, autism literature isn’t just a “man’s world.” 



Baron-Cohen, S. (2004). The essential difference: Male and female brains and the truth about autism. New York: Perseus Books Group.

We all know the opposite sex can be a baffling, even infuriating, species. Why do most men use the phone to exchange information rather than have a chat? Why do women love talking about relationships and feelings with their girlfriends while men seem drawn to computer games, new gadgets, or the latest sports scores? Does it really all just come down to our upbringing? In The Essential Difference, leading psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen confirms what most of us had suspected all along: that male and female brains are different. This groundbreaking and controversial study reveals the scientific evidence (present even in one-day-old babies) that proves that female-type brains are better at empathizing and communicating, while male brains are stronger at understanding and building systems-not just computers and machinery, but abstract systems such as politics and music. Most revolutionary of all, The Essential Difference also puts forward the compelling new theory that autism (and its close relative, Asperger's Syndrome) is actually an example of the extreme male brain. His theory can explain why those who live with this condition are brilliant at analyzing the most complex systems yet cannot relate to the emotional lives of those with whom they live. Understanding our essential difference, Baron-Cohen concludes, may help us not only make sense of our partners' foibles, but also solve one of the most mysterious scientific riddles of our time. 



Birch, J. (2003, February). Congratulations! It's Asperger syndrome. London: Jessica Kingsley.

Diagnosed with Asperger syndrome in adulthood, Jen Birch relates her story with humor and honesty, taking us through the years of frustration and confusion that led to her diagnosis in 1999. She candidly describes her continual search for "normality," her experiences at work, her difficulties with relationships, her time spent in a psychiatric hospital and her struggle for correct diagnosis. Talking positively about how her life has changed since her diagnosis, Jen aims to use this newfound knowledge to inform others about the syndrome and how, once its pros and cons are understood, life can be lived to the full. 



Blackman, L. (1999). Lucy’s story: Autism and other adventures. Mt. Ommaney, Australia: Book in Hand.

In her autobiography, Lucy Blackman gives a very detailed insider’s view of autism before and after she learned to communicate through typing. Blackman adeptly discusses the social construction of speech and how her lack of a method of communication allowed the process of the experience of receiving and speaking to pass her by in her early years. In her later years, she developed a friendship with an Australian writer who became her mentor in her burgeoning desire to be a writer. This book, as well as being a fascinating autobiographical narrative, is essential reading on the aspects of sensory discrimination, issues of visual perception, and discussion of the rituals associated with autism. Blackman also provides an in depth discussion of her school placements, what worked, what did not work in her school settings, and how her family relationships bridged both her school and communication gaps. A majority of the book provides a comprehensive discussion of the method of facilitated communication (FC). Blackman goes into meticulous detail as to how she came to learn FC and she takes text from when she first acquired the method and analyzes it to show the process of communication. In this discussion she provides her own explanation for message passing errors (language keys, personal communication perceptions, vision issues), and discusses how she used the method in high school—what types of classroom situations and student-teacher/home communication methods were successful and not. Blackman also gives the reader an honest and sometimes humorous account of her relationship with her mother and sisters. 



Buliller, K. (2008, Summer). Quirky citizens: Autism, gender, and reimagining disability. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 33(4), 967-991.

“Feminist disability scholarship has raised new issues about identity formation and social exclusion (Garland-Thomson 2005). By evoking a notion of disability that fundamentally disputes the assumption of disablement as natural or a detriment, these studies follow critiques of the social construction of gender and race and also chart out new grounds to extinguish socially disabling categories. This scholarship has unsettled how feminists conceptualize gender, sexuality, genetic and reproductive issues, and the role of women as caretakers. It has renewed interest in the question of how to promote diversity in all its manifestations and to further a more inclusive society. As a consequence, people with disabilities are asserting their place in democratic societies as identifiable groups and making demands for inclusion. One group whose struggles raise important issues for democratic participation is people with autism. While the number of people diagnosed with autism, a neurological disability with consequences for social functioning, is small relative to other disabilities such as motor impairments, according to most reports of epidemiological data the number of children being diagnosed with this disorder is rapidly escalating. Although claims of an autism epidemic are disputed (Gernsbacher, Dawson, and Goldsmith 2005), over the past thirty years the incident rate of autism worldwide may have increased three- to fourfold (Newschaffer, Falb, and Gurney 2005)” (p. 967). 



Cowley, G., with Underwood, A., Murr, A., Springen, K., & Sennott, S. (2003, September 8). Girls, boys and autism. Newsweek Magazine. Retrieved April 1, 2005 from http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3069769/site/newsweek/.  

“Is this mysterious and sometimes devastating condition just an extreme version of normal male intelligence? That’s one provocative new theory.” This is a web-based version of this Newsweek cover story discussing the current controversial theories behind autism’s gender gap. 



Davidson, J. (2007, December). 'In a World of her Own': Re-presenting alienation and emotion in the lives and writings of women with autism. Gender, Place & Culture, 14(6), 659-677.

The term autism derives from the Greek autos (meaning 'self') - it connotes separation, aloneness - and descriptions of those diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorders (ASDs) frequently suggest they are very much apart from the shared, experientially common space of others. The subjects of clinical literature are very often male children, perhaps unsurprising given the recognized need for early intervention and the fact that studies suggest four times as many boys receive an ASD diagnosis as girls. This understandable bias does, however, mean that a significant minority are often overlooked. This paper focuses on the experience of those girls and women who frequently struggle to obtain recognition and support for a predominantly male disorder. Drawing particularly on autobiographical accounts--including the narratives of Temple Grandin, Dawn Prince-Hughes and Donna Williams--the paper reveals a strongly felt need to communicate and thus connect their unusual spatial and emotional experience with others in a manner not typically associated with autism. It explores the complex challenges of ASD life-worlds, focusing in particular on the prevailing and powerful sense of alienation, and the ways in which ASD women use social and spatial strategies to cope with and contest the expectations and reactions of neuro-typical others. 



Ernsperger, L., & Wendel, D. (2007). Girls under the umbrella of autism spectrum disorders: Practical solutions for addressing everyday challenges. Shawnee Mission, KS: Autism Aspgerger Publishing Company.

Co-authored by an experienced professional and a mother of a young girl on the autism spectrum, this much-awaited book combines the best of both worlds as it gives a voice to girls under the umbrella of autism spectrum disorders. The authors provide insightful first-hand accounts of girls’ lives along with research-based strategies and practical techniques for addressing the unique needs of girls on the spectrum while nurturing and developing their gifts and talents.



Faherty, C. (2002, July-August). Asperger’s syndrome in women: A different set of challenges? Autism Asperger's Digest. Arlington, TX: Future Horizons Publications, Inc. Retrieved May 3, 2005 from http://www.autismtoday.com/articles/Aspergers_in_Women.htm.  

“Are women with autism doubly challenged by the added assumptions that society places on the female gender? We have far to go in understanding the unique challenges that women with autism or Asperger’s face.” 



Grandin, T. (1995). Thinking in pictures: And other reports from my life. New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishers Groups, Inc.

Thinking in Pictures is about the childhood and development of Temple Grandin, a woman with autism. She likens herself to the robotic character, Data, on the science fiction television program, Star Trek: The Next Generation. She says words are like a second language to her, noting that she thinks primarily in images. Grandin, who holds a Ph.D. in animal science and has designed equipment that revolutionized the livestock industry, proposes that genius and autism may sometimes be closely related. 



Grandin, T. (1996, August). Emergence: Labeled autistic. New York: Warner Books, Inc.

A true story that is both uniquely moving and exceptionally inspiring, Emergence is the first-hand account of a courageous autistic woman who beat the odds and cured herself. As a child, Temple Grandin was forced to leave her "normal" school and enroll in a school for autistic children. This searingly honest account captures the isolation and fears suffered by autistics and their families and the quiet strength of one woman who insisted on a miracle. 



Gray, D. E. (2003, February). Gender and coping: The parents of children with high functioning autism. Social Science and Medicine, 56(3), 631-642.

Gender is a concept that is frequently discussed in the literature on stress, coping and illness. Research has reported that women are more vulnerable than men are to stressful events and use different strategies to cope with them. Furthermore, it is often asserted that these gender-based differences in coping may partially explain the differential impact of stressful events on men and women. Unfortunately, much of this research has equated gender with sex and failed to contextualise the experience of illness and coping. This paper presents a qualitative analysis of the role of gender and coping among parents of children with high functioning autism or Asperger's syndrome in an Australian sample. It attempts to analyse the different meanings of the disability for mothers and fathers and describes the various strategies that parents use to cope with their child's disability. 



Harp, C. R. (2005, Spring). Autism moms. Lilith, 30(1).

In a city in the Midwest, a growing cadre of Jewish moms bond. They have special-needs kids and a special Jewish community. Illustrations by Israeli artists--children and adults--with autism. 



Landen, M., & Rasmussen, P. (1997, September). Gender identity disorder in a girl with autism--A case report. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 6(3), 170-173.

A girl with high functioning autism who developed transsexualism is described. The literature to date has, to the authors' knowledge, not documented any similar case. The diagnosis of a coexisting psychiatric disorder in transsexualism has implications for the evaluation, prognosis, and appropriate management of the patient. The question of a possible relationship between autism and transsexualism and whether there is a predisposition to gender dysphoria in autism, is discussed. 



Lawson, W. (2003, May/June). As a woman with Asperger syndrome. Autism Asperger Publishing Company Newsletter. Shawnee Mission, KS: Autism Asperger Publishing Company. Retrieved February 24, 2005 from http://www.asperger.net/newsletter_mayjune03lawson.htm.

This is a brief article and poem where the author relates her difficulties as person on the autism spectrum, especially in relation to her gender. 



Long, K., Wood, H., & Holmes, N. (2000). Presentation, assessment and treatment of depression in a young woman with learning disability and autism. British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 28(3), 102–108.

The association between autism and affective disorders in adults with learning disability (LD) is reviewed, alongside a discussion of some of the problems identified with the accurate differential diagnosis of depression in individuals with more severe impairment. This case study describes the presentation, differential diagnosis and treatment of a young woman with a severe LD, autism and depression. Behavioural factors which were felt to reflect this individual's depressive disorder, but which are not usually associated with the diagnosis of depression, are highlighted. Further work on the development and refinement of a reliable method of assessing depression in individuals with LD and autism is discussed. 



Miller, J. K. (Ed.). (2003). Women from another planet? Our lives in the universe of autism. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse.

Mention the word autism and the room suddenly turns silent. It’s the dreaded A word.

People’s attention turns to late night TV public service ads declaring that autistic children are “imprisoned” by autism and need curing at all cost. Recent autobiographies have helped dispel this dire description by suggesting that autism is not a prison and that the door is unlocked and you’re free to come in. Women from Another Planet? moves beyond these autistic life stories in important ways. It’s a collection of stories and conversations, all of them by women on the autism spectrum who speak candidly, insightfully, and often engagingly about both their gender in terms of their autism and their autism in terms of their gender. It is written not just for parents and professionals, like the other works, but also to those women still searching for ways to understand the unnamed difference they live with, as well as the wider audience of discerning readers. If you enter the unlocked door of these Women from Another Planet? you may end up with a question mark or two about your planet. Is normalcy really all it’s cracked up to be?

Excerpts can be found at the publisher’s web site, http://www.authorhouse.com and at http://www.womenfromanotherplanet.com/  



Nichols, S., with Moravcik, G. M., & Pulver Tetenbaum, S. (2009). Girls growing up on the autism spectrum: What parents and professionals should know about the pre-teen and teenage years. London: Jessica Kingsley. 

Growing up isn't easy, and the trials and tribulations of being a teenager can be particularly confusing for girls with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). This book covers all the concerns commonly faced by girls with ASDs and their parents, from periods and puberty to worries over friendships and "fitting in".
Taking a good look at these adolescent issues, and many more, within the context of specific areas of difficulty for girls with ASDs, the authors provide families with the knowledge and advice they need to help their daughters - and the whole family - through the teenage years. This book addresses core issues such as cognition, communication, behavior, sensory sensitivities, and social difficulties; it gives candid and realistic advice on a wide range of important teenage topics. 

Providing professional perspectives alongside personal experiences from mothers, daughters and educators, this is a unique and indispensible guide for families and their daughters with ASDs, as well as the teachers and professionals who work with them. 



Orsmond, G. I., Lin, L., &Seltzer, M. M. (2007, August). Mothers of adolescents and adults with autism: Parenting multiple children with disabilities. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 45(4), 257–270.

We examined types of disabilities in siblings from a large sample of families of adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and the impact of another child with a disability on maternal and family well-being. The most frequent disabilities in siblings were attention and hyperactivity (4.6%) and autism spectrum (2.4%) disorders and psychiatric (2.1%) and learning (2.0%) disabilities. Mothers parenting another child with a disability (in addition to the child with ASD) had higher levels of depressive symptoms and anxiety and lower family adaptability and cohesion compared with mothers whose only child with a disability had ASD (matched on child age and family size). Findings are discussed with respect to understanding the needs of such families, including service provision.



Park, C. C. (2001). Exiting Nirvana: A daughter's life with autism. Boston, Little, Brown and Company.

Reprising her own now classic work The Siege, which covered the early years of her autistic daughter's life, Clara Claiborne Park gives us a moving, eloquent portrait of Jessy as an autistic adult—still struggling with language, with hypersensitivities and obsessions, and with the social interactions that most of us take for granted, but at the same time achieving more than her parents could have hoped for, becoming an accomplished artist, and growing into an active member of her family and community. 



Peers, J. (2003). Asparagus dreams. London: Jessica Kingsley.

Expelled from mainstream education and vaguely aware she has something called "Asparagus" Syndrome, 12-year-old Jessica is sent away to a residential school for young people with autism. Here, at first miserable and misunderstood, she spends the next five years trying to cope with the strict school system--fighting against misguided teacher interventions, dealing with the onset of adolescence and fitting in with the other pupils. Recalling her school years with humour and insight, Jessica takes the reader right inside what it feels like to have AS. Her account will open the eyes of readers to the difficulties, and the rewards, of this condition. 



Prince-Hughes, D. (2004). Songs of the gorilla nation: My journey through autism. New York: Harmony Books.

This memoir tells how Prince-Hughes learned to manage her Asperger's syndrome by observing and interacting with gorillas. Asperger’s, a "high-functioning" form of autism, regularly goes unrecognized because those affected are often gifted intellectually and learn numerous coping mechanisms.

The author's accounts of her childhood are moving as she describes how she viewed her world and how she tried to deal with it. What makes this book unique is the author's discovery of the gorillas at Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo, and how she learned about personal relationships, the need for companionship, and the need for a group to belong to by watching them. Though she dropped out of school at 16, her focus on the gorillas led to an eventual Ph.D. in anthropology. 



Silverman, J. (2006). A feminist activist raises a son with autism. off our backs, 36(2), 48-50.

This brief article recounts the author’s experiences as a feminist-activist-mother, including letting go of her expectations and battling “the system” while raising a child with autism. 



Thompson, T., Caruso, M., & Ellerbeck, K. (2003). Sex matters in autism and other developmental disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 7(4), 345-362.

We have paid little attention to gender differences in developmental disabilities aside from the purpose of establishing prevalence. Yet, studying sex differences in the incidence and presentation of developmental disability and mental health disorders may contribute to our understanding of the neural circuitry and neurochemistry of both the normal and the abnormal brain. Furthermore, investigation into gender difference may have practical implications, as we may need to design sex-specific interventions for persons with developmental disability. In this article, we first review sex differences in typically developing children as well as some of the literature on the biology proposed to explain those differences. We then explore differences in prevalence and presentation of several developmental and mental health disorders as they may relate to biological mechanisms–with special attention to autism. Finally, we look at research needs as they relate to sex in developmental disability. 



Skuse, D. H. (2000). Imprinting the X-chromosome and the male brain: Explaining sex differences in the liability to autism. Pediatric Research, 47(1), 9-16.

Males are at least four times more likely to develop autism than females. Among relatives with a broader autistic phenotype, males predominate too. Autism is a highly heritable disorder, yet genome scans have not revealed any predisposing loci on the sex chromosomes. A nongenetic explanation for male vulnerability, such as exposure to prenatal androgens, is unlikely for a variety of reasons. A novel genetic mechanism that resolves many of the outstanding difficulties is outlined here. The imprinted-X liability threshold model hypothesizes that the threshold for phenotypic expression of many autistic characteristics is influenced by an imprinted X-linked gene(s) that is protective in nature. Imprinted genes are known to play an important role in normal fetal and behavioral development. The gene is expressed only on the X-chromosome that is inherited from the father and raises the threshold for phenotypic expression. It is normally silenced when transmitted maternally. Because only females have a paternal X-chromosome, the threshold for phenotypic expression is higher in them than in males. Evidence for the existence of the genetic locus was found in a study of females with X-monosomy (Turner's syndrome) in which females had either a single paternal or maternal X-chromosome. Identifying the sites of action of this X-linked gene could lead to the discovery of autosomal loci that confer more directly a predisposition to autism. 



Simpson, D., Hanley, J. J., & Quinn, G. (2002). Refrigerator mothers [Film]. Boston: Fanlight Productions.

From the 1950s through the 1970s, children with autism were widely thought to be victims of inadequate parenting. Influenced by Psychologist Bruno Bettelheim, mental health and medical professionals claimed that autism was the product of mothers who were cold, distant, rejecting--unable to "bond properly." They were labeled "refrigerator mothers." Though this disastrous theory began to be seriously challenged in the mid-1960s, its effects lingered for decades. As recently as 1996, producer J.J. Hanley was told that her son's odd behaviors were the result of overanxious and overbearing mothering. Her family wasted many critical early intervention months before her son was finally diagnosed with autism.

In Refrigerator Mothers, seven women share their poignant stories. All but one were told by psychologists or physicians that they were to blame for their child's autism. The only exception, who is African-American, was told that her son could not be autistic because she did not fit the usual pattern: middle class, highly educated, and white. She was told, instead, that her son must be emotionally disturbed. Yet these courageous women refused to be crushed by the burden of blame. Today, they have strong, supportive relationships with their now adult sons and daughters and, in a variety of ways, have helped them to find their place in the world. Offering fascinating insights into the history of our understanding of mental illness and developmental disabilities, this fascinating and disturbing video raises questions that are of profound relevance today.

The film features historic broadcast interviews with Bettelheim himself, as well as excerpts from both Hollywood features and mental health "training films" of the period.

Contemporary context is provided by psychiatrist and author Robert Coles, MD, of Harvard; by Richard Pollak, author of The Creation of Dr. B: A Biography of Bruno Bettelheim; and by research psychologist Bernard Rimland, PhD, whose 1964 book, Infantile Autism, challenged Bettelheim's "bad mothering" thesis and argued for an understanding of autism as a biological disorder. Refrigerator Mothers was produced by Kartemquin Educational Films, and is a presentation of the Independent Television Service, with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

A viewer’s guide for this film can be found at: http://www.kued.org/diversevoices/autism.html  



Wachtel, K., & Carter, A. S. (2008, September). Reaction to diagnosis and parenting styles among mothers of young children with ASDs. Autism, 12(5), 575-594.

When a child is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) parents often experience a range of difficult feelings, which typically are not addressed in child-focused interventions. This study examined the relationship between a mother's acceptance of and sense of resolution regarding her child's diagnosis of an ASD and maternal interaction style, controlling for child competence, autism symptoms and maternal depression. Participants included 63 children with an ASD between 20 and 50 months of age and their mothers. Mothers who were more emotionally resolved were rated as higher in Cognitive Engagement and Supportive Engagement in play interactions, reflecting greater verbal and nonverbal scaffolding to enhance the child's play and attention to activities and greater reciprocity and mutual enjoyment. This study highlights the importance of considering a mother's resolution about her child's diagnosis, suggesting that maternal emotions and cognitions associated with the diagnosis may be potential targets for intervention.



Willey, L. H. (1999). Pretending to be normal: Living with Asperger's syndrome. London: Jessica Kingsley. 

Pretending to be Normal tells the story of a woman who, after years of self-doubt and self-denial, learned to embrace her Asperger's syndrome traits with thanksgiving and joy. Chronicling her life from her earliest memories through her life as a university lecturer, writer, wife and mother, Liane Holliday Willey shares, with insight and warmth, the daily struggles and challenges that face many of those who have Asperger's Syndrome. Pretending to be Normal invites its readers to welcome the Asperger community with open acceptance, for it makes it clear that, more often than not, they are capable, viable, interesting and kind people who simply find unique ways to exhibit those qualities.

The last part of the book consists of a series of substantial appendices which provide helpful coping strategies and guidance, based on the author's own experience, for a range of situations. This positive and humane book will provide not only insight into the Asperger world which will prove invaluable for the professionals who work with people with Asperger's Syndrome, but also hope and encouragement for other people with Asperger's Syndrome, their families, and their friends. 



Williams, D. (1992). Nobody, nowhere: The extraordinary autobiography of an autistic. New York: Avon Books.

Donna Williams, who was diagnosed with autism when in her mid 20s, wrote Nobody, Nowhere in an attempt to understand herself and to explore how she fit into the world around her. She candidly describes the teasing and mistreatment she experienced at the hands of her family and her ability to use role-playing to interact with others. Williams said of her book, “This is a story of two battles, a battle to keep out ‘the world’ and a battle to join it. I have, throughout my private war, been a she, a you, a Donna, and finally, an I.” 



Williams, D. (1994). Somebody, somewhere: Breaking free from the world of autism. New York: Times Books.

This autobiography by Donna Williams poignantly and defiantly illustrates her life and struggle with autism. She powerfully articulates her "awakening to the world" and how she fought for others to do the same. She presents her perspective of autism and reminds readers that it is crucial that they seek to understand her perspective and the perspectives of others with autism rather that imposing their own notions onto someone else. She asserts that she has taken control of her autism, that it does not control her. 



Williams, D. (1996). Like colors to the blind. New York: Times Books.

Like Colors To The Blind is Donna Williams’ third book about her life as a person with autism. When she was diagnosed with autism at the age of 25, she wrote Nobody, Nowhere as an attempt to explore her experiences as a person with autistic symptoms. In her sequel, Somebody, Somewhere, she continued to analyze how role-playing and ritualistic behavior helped her to cope with her environment, and how she was able to begin to replace these mechanisms with genuine interactions. This, her latest work, builds upon the last, addressing relationships and emotions. Williams describes her relationship with Ian, who became her best friend and eventually her husband. 



Williams, D. (2004). Everyday heaven: Journeys beyond the stereotypes of autism. London: Jessica Kingsley.

Everyday Heaven is the much-awaited fourth installment in Donna Williams' series of best-selling autobiographies about her life with autism. A humorous, riveting, roller-coaster of a book, Everyday Heaven covers the monumental nine years from the time Ian left their accidental, "autistic marriage," to Donna's candid, funny, often bumbling explorations of sexuality and orientation, the challenge of coming to terms with the sudden deaths of those closest to her and finally knowing what life was like without the invisible cage of her "Exposure Anxiety." Described as enthralling, deeply moving and gripping, this book will strike a lasting chord not only with autistic readers and professionals seeking to better understand those on the autism spectrum but all of us who simply dream of daring to love deeply, to adventure and to deal triumphantly with the losses along the way. 



Williams, S. (2005). Reflections of self. Kentwood, MI: The Gray Center for Social Learning and Understanding.

This is a powerful and insightful look at life from the perspective of Sondra Williams, an adult with high-functioning autism. Her articles and poetry beautifully illustrate the unique strengths and challenges that she experiences. Topics covered include general information about what it is like to have autism, as well as Sondra’s perspectives on her 18-year marriage and her four children (who have all been diagnosed with ASD), her childhood memories, the therapy that has allowed her to discover and value her real self, and her faith. 



Wurzburg, G. [Dir. & Prod.] (2005). Autism is a world [Film]. Washington, DC: CNN Productions and State of the Art Inc.

This documentary is about Sue Rubin who is autistic. She was diagnosed and treated as mentally retarded until the age of 13 when she began to communicate using a keyboard. When you meet her, she does not make eye contact. She obsessively attacks your buttons, endlessly stands at the faucet and watches water pour over her hand. Most people would not approach this person, but the documentary takes the viewer on a journey into her mind, into her world and her obsessions. Autism is a World explores Sue’s world, her writings, and the remarkable friendships she has created while in college.