I Am in Here: The Journey of a Child with Autism

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

Elizabeth M. Bonker and Virginia G. Breen, Authors

Revell, Baker Publishing Group, Oct., 2011, Nonfiction

Suitable for:  Parents, and Teens and Adults with Autism

Theme:  Autism Spectrum, Poetry, Finding a Voice

Synopsis:  Elizabeth was diagnosed with autism at age 13 months and lost her ability to speak at 15 months.  Until then, she was progressing normally.  She was diagnosed as mentally retarded by specialists, but her intelligence is now considered in the genius range.  Her older brother Charles also has autism, but is very talkative.  Virginia admits the autism journey is like riding a roller coaster as they heard of new treatments daily and had to make their own decisions about what would work for their children.   In their attempt to reach Elizabeth,      her parents worked with a woman who developed teaching method called Rapid Prompting Method (RPM).  The program worked for Elizabeth.  She began to write single-word answers and then full sentences with a letterboard.   From ages seven to thirteen, Elizabeth has written more than 100 poems, in which she talks about her inner world and her connection with the world around her.  She is a self-taught poet who was born with a gift to write.  I found it interesting that Elizabeth does her homework on a laptop computer, but writes her poetry on the letterboard.  I have told you enough about Elizabeth.  Now I want you to meet this beautiful soul.

 ME

I sometimes fear
That people cannot understand
That I hear
And I know
That they don’t believe I go
To every extreme
To try to express
My need to talk.
If only They could walk
In my shoes
They would share my news:
I  am here
And trying to speak every day
In some kind of way.   (age 9)

I wrote Me to let people know that even though I don’t speak, I feel and understand the world around me.  I want to be heard and respected.  I want that for everyone, especially for people like me.” – Elizabeth

Me Revisited

I can’t sit still.
What’s wrong with me?
My body is doing things
I can’t explain.
My dignity I am trying to maintain.
People Stare at me
When I rock and shake.
I don’t know how much
More I can take.
So much to deal with
Going on inside me.
I wish I could get better.
I want to be set free
From my silent cage.

“Some of the people at school who do not know me make me feel uncomfortable.  They stare at me.  I would not rock and shake if I could stop it.  It just happens sometimes  I wish they could understand, but mostly I wish I could explain it to them. ” – Elizabeth

Bright Future

When you see
A tree
Think of me
Growing strong and tall.

When you see
The Sun shining brightly
Think of me
Tough and mighty.

When you see
The water on the lake
Think of the future
I plan to make.

Me
Strong
Mighty
Free

Why I like this book:  Elizabeth’s book, co-authored with her mother Virginia, is an inspirational and powerful beacon that will offer much hope to parents with children in the Austism Spectrum.   It is a profoundly moving and spiritual journey between a mother and daughter.   Elizabeth shows great courage and determination in learning to communicate, despite the fact that she lacks fine motor skills to write.  She types one letter at a time with her forefinger.  Her optimism is remarkable as she wants people to find peace in her book.

For Virginia, “Elizabeth has become my teacher, and I am learning to think about life, faith, and relationships in a whole new way.  I have come to see the world as divided into Why People and How People.   Why People cannot be at peace until they answer the question of why suffering has befallen them.  How People ask “How can I move forward?  Having been dealt their hand in life, their focus shifts to how they can find whatever healing and wholeness is possible.”  For Virgina, her 13-year-old daughter is a miracle who has “shattered the silence of autism through her beautiful poetry.”   I Am in Here, is a masterpiece of poetry and prose.  And we are so fortunate to capture a rare glimpse into Elizabeth’s beautiful mind and world.

You can visit Elizabeth at her website I Am in Here, and read the first two chapters of her book for free under “Book” and “Read a Passage.”   You will also find  videos, resources and other information.    Virginia has also indicated that Amazon is having a Kindle special price of $2.99 for I Am in Here during the month of March. 

Autism Awareness Month is approaching  in April.  For information contact Autism Speaks .   Join Autism Speaks in celebrating World Autism Awareness Day on April 2 and Light It Up Blue to help shine a light on autism. Whether it’s your front porch or your local city hall, an office party or a banquet, the entire world is going blue to increase awareness about autism.  The month will be filled with activities.  Among the buildings going blue last year were the: Empire State Building, Christ the Redeemer in Brazil, Niagara Falls, Al Anoud Tower in Saudi Arabia,  Cairo Tower in Egypt, Great Buddha at Hyogo in Japan, CN Tower in Canada and Sydney Opera House in Australia.

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About Patricia Tiltonhttp://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

31 thoughts on “I Am in Here: The Journey of a Child with Autism

  1. Oh! This book addresses the kind of autism that I work with quite often. I’m going to have to show this to Briane Pagel as well. He’s a lawyer/author that I network with online who has two kids with autism (that can’t speak). If you wanted to check out his blog it’s called “Thinking the Lions”.

  2. Wow, Pat. This book sounds brilliant. What beautiful, moving poetry, and how wonderful that Elizabeth has found a way not only to speak and express herself, but to share with others a glimpse inside the mind and heart of someone who lives in world we all need to better understand. Thanks for sharing!

    • Susanna, this is a powerful book. Elizabeth is only 13 years old and writing beautiful poetry. Her work is emotive, insightful, funny and peaceful. I am glad you liked the review.

  3. Pingback: Parents of Kids with Autism Earn Less « PDResources

  4. Pat, This is Elizabeth’s mom here. Thank you so much for loving her book and doing such a thoughtful review! You picked out three of my favorite poems and I also love
    :
    The Things I Know For Sure

    There is a God
    I am loved
    The sun will shine
    I will survive autism

    Everyday, Elizabeth blesses me with her presence and wisdom. Thank you again.

    Blessings, Virginia

    • Virginia,
      Thank you for your lovely note! I always worry about doing a book justice. In Elizabeth’s case, I wanted to show her beauty by sharing her poetry. what a gifted young lady! You and Elizabeth wrote a very powerful book. I have a lot of followers who have children with autism. I review a wide variety of books and I was so happy to find yours. Thank you for stopping.

      Warmly,
      Patricia

  5. Wow! Ditto what Susanna said. This is indeed very moving. Elizabeth has come so far in her ability to not only show but teach us about her world. Lovely review as always Pat, thanks for sharing.

    • Diane, this a very moving book. Easy to get lost in. It really about courage and hope. I’m sure Elizabeth will leave her mark on the world. Since so many writers and authors love to write poetry, I wanted to share Elizabeth’s poety with everyone!

  6. What a lovely book that you reviewed, and how nice of Elizabeth’s mother to leave a comment here for us!

    I also thank you for mentioning the “Light It Up Blue” campaign for autism awareness month in April. When I saw that the President had turned the fountain green for St. Patrick’s Day, and also turned the White House pink for breast cancer awareness, we have to hope that this year he will finally agree to one night of blue light at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as well!

    I am happy to know more about “I Am in Here” and will share it with others.

    • Cathy, I thought of you as I reviewed this. Thought Elizabeth’s poetry would catch your attention. It was lovely her mother left a note. Yes, I plan to do a number of reviews during Autism month — I thought about the White House and wondered about turning the water fountain blue this year. I’m sure their PR people are on it. It’s a good teaching moment for Obama’s children! But, know there is protocol.

  7. I’m going to see if I can grab this for the Kindle. It sounds like a compelling story and I am interested to see how they write about the letterboard.

  8. Great review! One of my classmates is friends with a kid that can’t speak (I’m not so sure, but he might have autism). I like how we learn about Elizabeth through her poetry. It’s good to not judge people too quickly. I’ll have to check it out! It was nice of Elizabeth’s mom to comment :)
    Erik

    • Erik, I listed her website, and you might want to check out some of the videos about Elizabeth. I’m glad you liked the review — I really wanted to showcase Elizabeth and let her speak to everyone through her poetry. Yes, it was nice her mother commented.

  9. Hi again from Elizabeth’s mom! Just wanted your wonderful readers to know that Amazon is having a Kindle special price of $2.99 for I Am in Here during the month of March. Also, you can read the first two chapters on our website http://www.IAmInHereBook.com for free (under “Book” and “Read a Passage”). There are also website and other resources available in the “Resources” section.

    Thanks again, Virginia

    • Virginia, thank you again for your second note and for providing additional information. Great information for anyone wishing to purchase the book from Kindle. I also posted your website on my post. Wishing you the best with all of your upcoming speaking engagements. – Patricia

  10. Powerful, moving, inspiring. Thank you so much for highlighting this book, Pat. You do such a service for families with kids on the Autism Spectrum. I am delighted, for you and for us, that Elizabeth’s mother has visited and commented here.

    • Beth, thank you. She visited earlier in the day. Another book your cousin may be interested in reading. I was very moved by Elizabeth’s poetry. What is interesting is that with every post I write a couple of individuals step forward with a family member with autism.

  11. I love the books you share. They are so meaningful. I think having an autistic child would be so difficult, but these stories and experiences make it easier to understand. Sounds like a beautiful story.

    • Leigh, it is a beautiful story of courage and hope. I wanted all of you to meet Elizabeth through her poems. And, the book is filled with her poetry and thoughts. Glad you like the selection.

  12. Hi Patricia, how I loved the poetry here. There are indeed moments when verse manages to capture the core/the essence of how we feel more than any other medium can. I was just reminded of you today, Patricia, as I was going through Nonfiction Monday posts. You might be interested in this particular post:

    http://www.shelf-employed.blogspot.com/2012/03/temple-grandin-how-girl-who-loved-cows.html

    - an inspiring story of Dr. Temple Grandin who also suffers from autism. I have a feeling you’d love this one. :)

    • HI Myra, it was fun celebrating Elizabeth yesterday Her poetry does capture the essence of how she feels and a way for her to connect to her family and world. Glad you liked the book. Thank you for the reference and as wasn’t aware a children’s book was coming out about Temple. I saw the movie. Thank you for commenting.

  13. Thank you so much for this wonderful new resource! The poetry is so powerful. I’ve just added it to my “next order” list so that we can have it in our shop. Have you seen “The Survival Guide for Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders” from Free Spirit Publishing? I just got a review copy in and it looks really good.

    • Craig, just as you were commenting, I was updating the review to add some info about an Amazon Kindle download during March. I am glad you liked this very powerful story. The poetry I selected were among my favorites and they told her story, but you should read the other poetry that is included. It truly is a book of poetry and prose. Glad you’re going to carry it in you shop. Thank you for the recommendation. I believe I saw it on Amazon when I was searching. Will check it out.

  14. This is such a moving story and rare insight into the soul of one trapped inside her body. What an inspiration. How lucky we are to be given such insight. Thank You for sharing.

    • Niamh, I am glad you enjoyed the book. Thought it was perfect fit with poetry month. We truly see the soul of someone trying to communicate with such beauty and grace.

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