Nina's Reading Blog

Comments on books I am reading/listening to

I Am in Here: The Journey of a Child with Autism Who Cannot Speak but Finds Her Voice

Posted by nliakos on May 4, 2012

by Elizabeth M. Bonker and Virginia G. Breen (Revell 2011)

Virginia Breen narrates the story of her 13-year-old daughter Elizabeth, interspersing her narrative with Elizabeth’s poetry (written between the ages of eight and thirteen) and commentary.  Autism prevents Elizabeth from speaking, but after she learned to use a device called a letterboard from Soma Mukhopadhyay (another “autism mom” who created this simple device to help her son Tito communicate), and then  began to use a typewriter, Elizabeth was able to write poems and messages to communicate her thoughts. One of her first comments after learning to use the letterboard was, “I finally got to talk.”

Elizabeth’s poems are not complicated, but they are heartfelt. I loved her comments on the poems. A couple of examples: “I am frustrated because I can’t speak. Why me? I don’t get it. Why do people have disabilities?” (p. 60) and “I sometimes get frustrated and act out before I realize what I have done. I hope to be able to better deal with my emotions so people won’t be scared to be my friend or schoolmate.” (p. 72) and “I am not always able to show people how I am feeling. Sometimes I am not feeling well inside, or I have a hard time focusing. Sounds or smells that bother me do not seem to be noticed at all by others. I struggle to fit in, and succeed most days, but like everyone else, I have a bad day once in a while.” (p. 77) and “When learning something new, I have a hard time. I need time to figure it out in my own way.” (p. 85) These comments give NT (neurotypical) readers some insight into Elizabeth’s experience.

Both Breen and Elizabeth believe deeply in God and His power to heal Elizabeth. I am not a believer, but I admire their faith and hope for both their sakes that Elizabeth will be healed some day.

Elizabeth’s compassion for other people whom she sees as more challenged than she is is inspiring.

As I was reading this book, I often wiped tears from my eyes.

One Response to “I Am in Here: The Journey of a Child with Autism Who Cannot Speak but Finds Her Voice”

  1. […] get out. Now, some autistic people are using technology such as iPads to express themselves, like Elizabeth Bonker, believed to be languageless but in fact a gifted writers and poet. So there could have been a […]

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