Cover Image: Becoming an Autism Success Story

Becoming an Autism Success Story

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Member Reviews

I previously read a chapter written by Anita Lesko in a compilation written by many autistic adults, and looking back at that chapter there is no doubt that she has lived a fascinating life. This book - as Lesko explains in the opening few pages - is not an autobiography as such (she has already written one) but a book looking at how Lesko used a technique called visualisation to achievement the many incredible things she has throughout her life.

Visualisation and neuroplasticity have received a lot more attention in recent years, but a number of the books prominent in the research behind it (and referenced in this book) have some suspect research and often make some quite wide-reaching claims. There is a bit of that in this book as well. I found it difficult to believe some of the claims made about how visualisation could change the lives of every autistic person, up to and including healing faster from broken bones. I know that unexplainable things can and do happen, but they tend not to be either learnable or widespread.

Even with the interesting life events, this book was difficult to follow and I was tempted a few times to just review up to where I got to and make it clear I DNF. The same few points about visualisation were repeated over and over, some of the same events were discussed more than once. Perhaps there was some tidying in the editing process between the ARC and the final release, this would have helped cut some of this out.

Disappointingly, there are some fairly ableist comments and views in this book - such as forcing eye contact or just working through sensory issues (via visualisation). These views (though perhaps without the visualisation) remain widespread and it's especially disappointing when you see them being supported in some way by another autistic person.

While it wasn't explicitly an autobiography, there were lots of retellings of Lesko's life and the sections which were the best were when Lesko forgot to discuss visualisation and the reader was given a view of her life's passions and her bond with her family. Her description of her sensory experience being on a fighter jet or her description of riding her horse through the snowflakes in winter were fantastic depictions of pure autistic joy and these were the standout parts of the book. Perhaps, on that premise, I would enjoy Lesko's memoir but this book definitely was not for me.
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There were 2 reasons I was interested in this book

As someone working in a public library, autism is very much a prevalent conditions lots of my customers ask about.  On a personal level, I have a nephew with autism and I am always wanting to learn more about the condition.

This is a wonderfully inspirational book that I would recommend to anyone touched by the condition
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I received a free copy via Netgalley in return for an honest review

Through the book, I learned that the author is a personal friend of Temple Grandin. Both share their love for horses, - and in such, animals in general – as do the share the same diagnosis: autism spectrum disorder.

The author received her autism diagnosis at age 50. In the novel's forword, she admits she is 'glad, she is autistic.' She believes it'll change the world, and hopes this novel will change the way we view and think about autism and autistic people in general. 

Her novel is a personal account about her success in life, and how she became from being a shy little young girl, to being the successful adult she is today. Ms Anita Lesko spoke at the UN headquarters in New York in 2017 at World Autism Awareness Day. She holds a M.Sc. in nurse anaesthesia.

This personal account is basically about how childhood chores and how her love for horses and visualisation helped her cope with her anxiety, and incoordination. She is a strong advocate of animal-based intervention and programmes to reduce stress, and improve sensory input in ASD adults. Working at the stables since a child, saddling them, keeping track of feeding times, lessons, observing their needs, etc… have given her the life skills that made her a successful adult on the spectrum. 
I must admit, I am quite unfamiliar with horses in general, and the thought of riding one, well, not in my life time, preferably, since I am scared to death of these gigantic gentle creatures. However, I loved to read about shared childhood experience and the road she had to take to be where she is today. (I received my diagnosis at age 45.)

This is a wonderful and powerful story, about a step-by-step visualisation learning technique system. This is a book about horses and the benefits of hippotherapy. But above all, this is an inspirational story about one brave woman, who never ever gave up on herself. Bravo! 

**** 4 star
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I'm currently awaiting an autism assessment, so have been reading a lot around the subject. Whilst Lesko comes across as a fascinating woman, and her achievements are impressive, the book is very specific to her experience and her special interests.  A lot is predicated on thinking in pictures, whereas I think more in words and find visualisation difficult.  There's also a massive emphasis on horses, horse riding, horse therapy and so on, and although I have always been an animal lover, my passion has always been more for dogs.  Saying that, several of Lesko's descriptions of her behaviours and thought processes really resonated with me, which helps validate my experience and supports my suspicion that ASD may be behind those characteristics.  I would say this is worth a read, but it is definitely about one individual's experience of ASD and so does not, and cannot, apply to all.
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As someone that works with children with autism this book was something important and inspiring to read. Thank you for allowing me to read this book NetGalley.
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I  really enjoyed this book.  
As someone else on the spectrum I really appreciate hearing others stories.
Review is scheduled for the publication date of the book on my blog.
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This is the perfect read for any adult wanting to educate themselves in autism. It’s a well written and researched book with examples and advice.
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