A Life Lived Differently

A Life Lived Differently

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A poignant portrait of autism in verse and prose. The poet speaks in the voice of the autistic child, whose name is Dan. The prosaist speaks in the voice of the parent. This is a unique interpretation of the experience of living on the spectrum.

 

Although Dan is fictional, he is based on real people. Kathryn Jacobs, who identifies as autistic, writes his viewpoint in poetry which is both lyrical and down to earth. She is Dan, in writing and sometimes in emotional reality also. Rachel Jacobs writes as the mom and Dan’s primary caregiver. Dan has a brother. His father is absent from the narrative. Dan's parents seem to be divorced and the pressure of parenting a special-needs child was part of it.

 

Dan may be fictional but there is no question that the portrayal of autism is real. Readers with firsthand experience ‘feel seen’. Dan is loved. Perhaps this is why we are granted the privilege of entering his world.

 

This articulate portrayal of autism opens a door to the world and experiences of a child who faces the challenges we all do but sees and understands in a different way. At times amusing, sometimes wry, often surprising, this account offers an unparalleled view into living on the spectrum. This collection of poetry and prose is being enthusiastically welcomed by autists, their caregivers, families, friends, and by teachers.

 

You don’t have to have autism or have personal experience with it to enjoy the poetry and prose in this book. All you need is an interest in A Life Lived Differently. Understanding related behaviors such as masking, stimming, and being overwhelmed by sensory stimulation will uncover further layers in the book’s contents, but the poems and stories are also beautifully written from a literary perspective.

 

This book celebrates the strength and beauty of a unique individual living with neurodiversity/Autism and offers sometimes startling and often heartwarming insights into one such life.

A Life Lived Differently sample poem and prose

Christmas on the Spectrum

It was a stressful morning, so Dan stuffed

a box with pillows and then wedged himself.

Just like a present wrapped in bubble wrap;

a box of Dan. Except that bubble-wrap

explodes when stomped on and Josh does that, so

Dan wrapped himself in pillows.

 

                                                     Pillows help,

especially on Christmas morning when

they leapt at him with stockings — lumpy ones;

 

his cereal went soggy on him while

he sorted through the implications. Like

an “ambush” (that is one of Dan's new words).

The floor was crinkly, gift-wrapped —

                                                                but the box

was only cardboard, “Dan approved of it”

and although Christmas noises butted in,

he drowned them out with crooning —

Kathryn Jacobs

Holiday Fun

Most parents don’t need to warn their sons about Christmas. But I should have warned mine. Some boys would describe a day full of unwrapping gifts and special breakfasts as a treat, a surprise, or fun. Dan called it an ambush. I think it started when I offered bacon and eggs for breakfast instead of cereal. I know he likes bacon and eggs. And to be honest I didn’t want to run to the store for cereal on Christmas Eve. But not having cereal, it was an ambush. I finally found a gas station that was open on Christmas and sold cereal. But by the time I had the cereal, he’d been ambushed by stockings until the cereal was soggy and inedible. I made him another bowl of cereal, but I never did get around to eating breakfast.

 

We opened presents, but even once we turned off the lights and the Christmas music, he found it overstimulating. The wrapping paper was an ambush, and he ignored the new toys. But the box they came in? He climbed right in. Finally, a safe place.

Rachel Jacobs