Monthly Book Recommendation: Brain on Fire

iStock_000019487243_ExtraSmallMonthly book recommendation:

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness

By Susannah Cahalan

There is still so much we do not understand about the brain, diseases, and the effects of disease and/or traumatic brain injury (TBI). I am always very interested and fascinated about stories and studies regarding the brain.

This book is a true story–and an eye opener, with lots to learn about how we view the brain, mental illness, etc.

Monthy Book Recommendation: The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat

iStock_000019487243_ExtraSmallMonthly book recommendation:

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales

By Oliver Sacks

This book has been around for a long time (since 1970 with updates in 1985), but it is a real gem. Oliver Sacks, neurologist, discusses his unusual case histories. Knowing what we know about  autism (and having more sophisticated ways to detect abnormalities in the brain)–it is clear when reading this book that Oliver Sacks was ahead of his time. He adds a very human element to all his recordings of unusual things that can go wrong with the brain and body.

Monthy Book Recommendation: Born on a Blue Day

Monthly book recommendation:

Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant

Written by Daniel Tammet

This book is written by a man from England who is on the autism spectrum and is a savant. The title of the book can throw you off, because “blue” is usually associated with being sad, but that is not what the author, Daniel Tammet, is referring to. Tammet actually sees numbers and words in color, shapes, and different textures, and with this ability, he is able to do amazing figures in his head.

I always find savant abilities fascinating, but what I really appreciate about this book are the explanations Tammet gives for certain behaviors that are often associated with people on the spectrum. For example, he explains why he walked around the perimeter of the playground as a child, something I have observed as a teacher. He explains that he did not want to get bumped or hit with the ball. He talks about sensory issues and perfectionism, other traits I have observed. I am always so appreciative of insight from a person who is on the spectrum because people do have different experiences of the world based on sensory input and neurological makeup.

I highly recommend this book!

Monthly Book Recommendation: The Boy in the Moon

Monthly book recommendation:

The Boy in the Moon

Written by Ian Brown

There is something really special about a book that can take a person into the world of another. In his book, author and father Ian Brown, does just that. This book is about Walker, Ian’s son, who was born with a syndrome known as cardiofaciocutaneous syndrome, a rare genetic mutation that affects about 100 people worldwide. It is also a book about the journey of these parents as they care for Walker.

This book is both beautiful and incredibly raw and honest at the same time.  Trying to understand the different realities of different people/parents and what they go through is why it is so important to read this book; the hours of screaming, the perpetual sleepless nights, the financial burden, trips and stays in the hospital, the beauty, the moments, the lessons, the guilt, searching, anger, and mostly the honesty and love…there is so much to this book.

Monthly Book Recommendation: Carly’s Voice

Monthly Book Recommendation:

Carly’s Voice: Breaking Through Autism

Written by: Arthur Fleischmann with Carly Fleischmann

I could not more highly recommend a book. This is a true story about a girl (now woman) named Carly who is on the autism spectrum and is nonverbal. I see this book as two separate stories:

  • the parents’ story (including Carly’s teachers)
  • Carly’s story

I am particularly drawn to books about autism that are told from the perspective of family members, and especially from the person with autism her/himself.

Carly learns to type at the age of ten, and is finally able to express her needs/wants–and witty personality (not a spoiler–it’s on the back cover of the book). One is able to read a first-hand account explaining many of the behaviors Carly exhibits and how it feels to be Carly with autism. It is significant, because this is all from a person who was presumed to have low intellectual functioning.

If you read this book, you will grow in both compassion and understanding. It is excellent.

Monthly Book/Movie Recommendation: Thinking in Pictures and Temple Grandin

Currently in the United States, 1 in 88 children will be born on the autism spectrum. It is almost five times more prevalent in boys; 1 in 54 boys will be born on the spectrum.

With that said, I think it is very important for people to understand autism. I highly recommend the book, Thinking in Pictures by Temple Grandin, Ph.D. Dr. Grandin is an animal scientist who has designed over one-third of all the livestock-handling facilities in the United States. She tells her fascinating story of what it is like to be autistic, how she thinks in pictures, and the struggles she has had to overcome.

There is also a movie based on her life that I couldn’t more highly recommend. It is called, Temple Grandin, staring Claire Danes. It is excellent–one of my all time favorite movies.