Sunday, February 12, 2012

"Anything But Typical" by Nora Raleigh Baskin

I enjoyed this book for teens enormously. It is written from a  first person perspective about Jason Blake, an autistic twelve year old.
Jason Blake is autistic and finds the neuro-typical world around him, but especially school, over-stimulating, often unfathomable. Most days it is just a matter of time before something goes wrong, before he either does something or says something others find "weird" or unacceptable, or before one of his classmates (and sometimes even his teachers) find him amusing or react negatively to him. Jason's one comfort and “time out” is the Storyboard website, where he can be himself, where he can write his stories and be creative. The story he writes about a made-up character Bennu  parallels his own life as in Bennu’s world he is also different from what is typical. When Jason actually makes an online friend on the website (Phoenixbird, whose real name is Rebecca), he dares to dream that they might be friends. But when Rebecca is going to be at the same Storyboard convention as Jason, Jason is concerned that once she actually meets him, she will, like most others, only see him as someone who is "anything but typical."
 Jason is a believable character that we can’t help have empathy for.

"Neorotypicals like it when you look them in the eye. It is supposed to mean you are listening, as if the reverse were true, which it is not:Just because you are not looking at someone does not mean you are not listening. I can listen better when I am not distracted by a person's face:What are their eyes saying? Is that a frown or a smile?Why are they wrinkling their forehead or lifting their cheeks like that?What does it mean"

" occupational therapist has taught me:look people in the eye when you are talking(even if this makes it harder for you to listen),talk even when you have nothing to say(that's what NT's do all the time).."

"even though it is harder for me to talk than to listen, even though it is also hard for me to listen, I think it is much harder for NTs to listen than it is to talk. This is something I have observed over the years. "

"People don't mean everything they say, my mother has told me. So has my physical therapist. Then why do they say it? Why do people say things they don't mean? So far no one has given me a good answer."

 "This is what I notice: NT's will lie. And its not that I can't. I could. If I wanted to. But even when everyone who is listening knows it's a lie, they can pretend it's not, and then everybody is lying. The listeners and the tellers. And its hard for me to tell what is real and what is not."

"It was noisy in the restaurant. Every time the door opened, I could hear cars driving on the road. I heard a dog bark outside, and I heard the wood floor creak when someone walked by the doorway to the kitchen. my occupational therapist was teaching me how to try and block out all these sounds. She taught me to hear them one by one and then send them away. Hear them. Hold them. And then let them go. Until finally all I saw were the words on the page an all  heard was my own breathing. And I knew I was calm."

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