The Va-J-J House, a Tapestry of Life
Written from the Heart of
Aunt Lea Lance
As a friend of The Art of Autism, Aunt Lea has shared in blogs and discussions on this forum. This time, to protect the privacy of fictionalized characters in her novel, she is using her pseudonym: Aunt Lea Lance – the named-author of The Va-J-J House, a Tapestry of Life. Aunt Lea is also one of the book’s fictional characters who shares in its narration.
On Saturday, May 6 at 11 AM both a $15 Trade Paperback and a $5.99 Kindle version of the The Va-J-J House are launching.
This means, if you’re interested in buying a copy, do so on that date and time, and help the book become a bestseller.
A work of whimsy and purpose, it is Aunt Lea’s hope that neurodivergent individuals, as well as their friends, families and others, will be inspired by stories-of-Beau, another of The Va-J-J House’s fictional characters. His stories can be gripping, and may hurt-then-hug-your-heart to read. In Debra Muzikar’s review of The Va-J-J House, she says:
“A compelling character in The Va-J-J-House is Beau whose Aspergian-naiveté repeatedly thrusts him into perilous predicaments. As Beau is forced to find creative solutions, he prevails with grace and dignity. A must-read for autistic adults, their families and friends, as well as women and men of strength and purpose.” Debra Muzikar, The Art of Autism: Shifting Perceptions.
As the author of The Va-J-J House, Aunt Lea wants everyone to read it! She envisions each person who does so, walking away, feeling better about themselves and this world: renewed; less fearful; more conscious of the consequences of their actions – kinder and more aware. Here are a few insights The Va-J-J House offers:
1. THOSE ON THE AUTISM SPECTRUM HAVE TOO MUCH TO OFFER TO CONTINUE BEING MISPERCEIVED!
Dr. Temple Grandin said:
“I find it kind of funny that normal people are always saying autistic children ‘live in their own little world.’ When you work with animals for a while you start to realize you can say the same thing about normal people. There’s a great big, beautiful world out there that a lot of normal folks are just barely taking in. Autistic people and animals are seeing a whole register of the visual world normal people can’t, or don’t.”
This is true! Early on, Aunt Lea quotes someone else:
“… Auntie Mame (who made her fame in the 50’s n’ 60’s)… said things like, ‘Life’s a banquet, and most suckers are starvin’ ta death.’”
Less eloquent than Dr. Grandin’s quote, yet Auntie Mame was onto something. Stories of Beau in The Va-J-J House are riveting and weave their own tactile tapestry of his young life. One could say Beau lives in his own world. He does. So do I. Don’t you?
Recounting stories of Beau’s perilous predicaments, The Va-J-J House offers readers an opportunity to clearly perceive the meaning of another popular quote:
“Sometimes it is the people no one can imagine anything of who do the things no one can imagine,” from The Imitation Game
Beau is introduced to life as a critically-ill newborn – from the get-go, it would have been difficult to imagine he would ever accomplish anything grand. Yet, he does. As his life lumbers on, Beau encounters one heartbreaking difficulty after another. A quote from The Va-J-J House, herself, says it all:
“… Beau has chosen a courageous and difficult path…
He’s doing exactly what he came here to do.
It ain’t pretty, it’s perfect…”
Rife with repeated evidence of his unique perspectives; for years, clues to his diversity remain unnoticed. Even after he is diagnosed with Aspergers, family, friends and professionals often distort and misunderstand Beau’s words and behaviors.
Well-intentioned actions are punished, while mistakes he thinks he has made are rewarded.
Beau sees the world through a different lens. In innocence, again and again, he is misunderstood, judged and tortured, eventually swirling down, down, down into a vortex of tragic despair.
2. NEURODIVERGENT OR NEUROTYPICAL, WE ALL NEED TO LEARN TO BE MORE ACCEPTING OF OUR DIFFERENCES.
In The Va-J-J House, Aunt Lea admits, “Through inaction, I betrayed myself, Beau and the system put in place to protect young men like Beau.”
About a decade ago, Beau and Aunt Lea met with their local sheriff, urging him to implement First Responder Autism Training – a program that enlightens both those on the autism spectrum and first responders how to more effectively communicate.
Aunt Lea’s request for action was ignored.
Within a year, “The Beating” described in The Va-J-J House occurred. Mistakenly reacting to a question Beau asked, five officers (from an arm of that same sheriff’s staff) cruelly beat, maced and humiliated Beau. It is said that sheriff is now finally considering implementation of this crucial training.* (See below for details.)
3. “IF YOU’VE MET ONE PERSON WITH AUTISM, YOU’VE MET ONE PERSON WITH AUTISM…” Dr. Stephen Shore
In The Va-J-J House, Aunt Lea asks, “Have you ever felt it? A moment of epiphany? A sudden knowing that floods your being and seems to explode inside you?”
Dr. Shore’s words had this effect on Aunt Lea: they’re true! Not all of those with autism need suffer as Beau suffers in this novel. Yet many autistic people do suffer. Like neurotypical people, they each process their anguish in their own unique ways – all too often tormented and bullied, challenged in a million different ways to adjust to a world that makes little sense to them.
The Va-J-J House encourages ALL OF US to appreciate our own uniqueness. I met a mom of an autistic 18-year old yesterday. He is having trouble finding a job. She shared a story with me about her son’s exceptional power of observation from a very young age.
Their family had gone to Hawaii on vacation. While on a guided submarine tour, everyone was impressed when their three-year-old son, Spencer, interrupted the tour guide to point out a spotted garden eel the guide hadn’t even seen. Later this child shared details about numerous other animals, making the tour guide’s job much easier! Mom and Dad still call moments of such brilliance, “Spencerisms.” Yes, Spencer is unique.
Another example of the individuality in brilliance of many on the spectrum, is reflected in a quote of Beau’s, taken from a letter he wrote in high school to a friend-in-despair:
“I think The Art of Compassion by the Dalai Lama is awesome.
It teaches us to accept others – others who are mean, might I add.
Gotta have compassion for people or you’ll never get by.
There’s this one thing a friend of the Dalai Lama said after being tortured and imprisoned:
To solve his imprisonment, he had compassion for his torturers.
Not anger, but compassion.
Replace anger with compassion and you get a happier person.”
Beau is also unique, as is The Va-J-J House! Please invite her into your life!
At 11 AM PST on Saturday, May 6, purchase her as a trade paperback for $15 or as a $5.99 Kindle-version on-line here.
Help her change the world! She will shift perceptions – especially misperceptions about those who are neurodivergent!
*See Thomas and Emily Iland’s websites at
*See also Law Enforcement Trainings offered by Dennis Debbault
Video by Tom Iland about Law Enforcement and Autism: