by Debra Hosseini
September 14, 2013 I had previously reviewed a digital copy of this book and received the new copy in the mail today. What a beautiful book this is! I highly recommend opting for the paper version of this book so you can appreciate the art.
Judy Endow’s book Painted Words: Aspects of Autism Translated combines her art, poetry, and prose to create a practical book of self-discovery that viscerally captures the essence of a world which only few experience; a world of subtle beauty that can turn too bright, loud and overwhelming.
Judy was diagnosed with autism at a late age on the same day her fifteen-year old son was diagnosed with Aspergers. She understands autism not only as a person on the spectrum but as a parent and a therapist.
I wish I had read Painted Words when my son Kevin was first diagnosed with autism. If so my relationship with him and the way I approached his therapies would be much different. I certainly would have a clearer understanding of why he behaves in certain ways and what benefit he gains from certain behaviors, such as hand-flapping, staring out in space, and not looking people in the eye.
Judy asserts the worlds that neuro-typicals and autistics inhabit are not different. It is the subjective experiences of the world that is different. The vividness and dimensions of color, light, sound, and space that autistics experience are probably what many great artists and writers also experience. Judy rightly points out that society doesn’t judge experiences by how robust they are but how they deviate from the norm. This is why autistic people are judged so harshly in a society that values conformity.
At the end of each chapter in Painted Words, Judy has a section “Considerations When Working With Others” in which she gives practical instructions for others when engaging with people on the spectrum. These considerations can be adjunctive to any therapy or simply kept in mind for everyday interactions.
Judy writes about the importance of what is now called “self-stimulatory” behavior in her own development, strategies for helping with inflexible thinking, and why autistic people have trouble with eye contact. She gives real-life examples to help overcome challenges. Most importantly she emphasizes that because a person experiences the world differently than others doesn’t make them “less than.”
Not unlike classics by authors such as Temple Grandin, Donna Williams, and Daniel Tammet this book gives readers a new insight into what it means to be autistic. For parents who want to understand their children better and for autistic people who want to appreciate their own journey this is a must read. For educators and therapists, this book may change your approach to therapy. Judy’s book is published by CBR Press and is $30.00. Publication date is: September 15, 2013 and is available for preorder now.