Today I have a guest post from Ido Kedar, a non speaking autistic young man who has written two books.
This is Ido’s second book, In Two Worlds.
Seven-year-old Anthony has autism. He flaps his hands. He makes strange noises. He can’t speak or otherwise communicate his thoughts. Treatments, therapies, and theories about his condition define his daily existence. Yet Anthony isn’t improving much. Year after year his remedial lessons drone on. Anthony gets older and taller, but his speech remains elusive and his school lessons never advance. Life seems to be passing him by. Until one day, everything changes.
In Two Worlds is a compelling tale, rich with unforgettable characters who are navigating their way through the multitude of theories about autism that for decades have dictated the lives of thousands of children and their families. This debut work of fiction sheds light on the inner and outer lives of children with nonspeaking autism, and on their two worlds. As one of the only works of fiction written by a person with non-speaking autism, it offers readers an unprecedented insider’s point-of-view into autism and life in silence, and it does so with warmth, humor and a wickedly sharp intellect.
Now over to Ido…
Imagine that you can’t speak, handwrite or gesture because your body can’t move the way you want it to due to a breakdown in communication between your thoughts and motor system. You are born this way, so no one knows you are smart. Your body betrays you through erratic or impulsive movementsthat convince theprofessional experts that you lack understanding of language or even awareness of the world around you. You can’t tell anyone the truth about who you are; that you are present, smart but trapped.
This is the experience of Anthony, the hero of In Two Worlds. He is a boy, trapped by autism, unable to communicate, and living in two distinct realities. He lives in his mind, isolated from others, intoxicated by overwhelming sensory experiences, and entertained by jokes he can only share with himself. It is a solitary, sensual life. Nearly hallucinatory visual input at times makes his inner world an escapist wonderland. His other world is less enticing, inundated in therapies and remedial education with specialists who have no idea that the strange boy is a thinking boy. This is monotony and tedium caused by good intentions.
My life has many parallels to Anthony’s, though he is not me. I am real and he is not. But I too can’t speak. I too move erratically. I too was thought to be an empty head when I was young. And I too made a breakthrough when I learned to touch letters to communicate. I lived an escapist life as a boy. My inner autismland offering a reprieve from the pointless boredom of simplistic drills that mocked my intelligence and proved my stupidity.
But once I learned to control my hand to type out my thoughts at the age of seven, my world opened. Gradually I made my way into the world of neurotypical education, my ideas liberated from their prison within my mind. I observed my lonely status in school. I was the only nonspeaking autistic in regular education. My autistic peers stayed in remedial class. No one bothered to inquire if they too might possess the ability of typing out letters with one finger to express ideas. The assumption was that I was an anomaly.
I began a journal to express my feelings at this tough time in my life. I was twelve years old. For three years I wrote and my journal developed into an insider’s view and explanation of nonspeaking autism. This became my memoir and first book, Ido in Autismland. It has had a bigger impact than I could have ever hoped. Parents have used my book as their path to communication with their children. Teachers have rethought theories, and autistic people have read that they are not alone.
In Two Worlds is my second book, but unlike Ido in Autismland, it is fictional. It feels real so people ask me if it is my story. It is the story of autism as seen through my autistic eyes, but it is fiction, nonetheless. I waited a long time to communicate. A long time before my first conversation. But I was seven. Still young. My protagonist, Anthony, waited until he was sixteen! Imagine going all the way to high school age with not one conversation ever, with no one, not even your own family knowing you had a thinking mind.
My experiences made me write true experiences for Anthony. I understand the people who populate his life and the way he is treated. I understand his sorrow, anger and budding hope. I understand the obstacles he faces when most of the professionals dismiss his communication as fantasy and fallacy.
The journey of Anthony tells the truth about autism, and because it is fiction it is all the more powerful. Through fiction you ride the schoolbus with Anthony, seeing streams of light and color with him. Through fiction you hear his thoughts, when no one else knows he has any. Through fiction you overcome the most basic human need with him, to connect with others and to share ideas. Anthony teaches that not talking is not the same as not thinking. He shines a light on the most maligned and misunderstood people, those who have historically been called “dumb,” because words don’t tumble from their mouths.
In Two Worlds is a journey into the life of a person who lives intelligently inside and stupidly outside. It is an insider’s perspective into nonspeaking autism and this is something wholly new to literature.
About the Author