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Book Review: Six Word Lessons on Growing Up Autistic by Trevor Pacelli

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As a teaching assistant in a primary school I occasionally work with children on the autistic spectrum. I have to admit that I find autism a very difficult condition to understand and I am always on the look-out for information that will help me be better at my job. When I saw Trevor Pacelli’s Six Word Lessons on Growing Up Autistic: 100 Lessons to Understand How Autistic People See Life, I jumped at the chance to read it.

Trevor Pacelli is a 19 year old living in Seattle who was diagnosed autistic at the age of 5. He wanted to write a book that would help other people to understand the challenges of being autistic. As Trevor says “Growing up autistic has been difficult not only for me but for my entire family. We’ve all had to learn about autism and how to maintain a peaceful household. I deeply want other families with autistic children to learn from my experiences.”

Trevor’s approach is perhaps a reflection of his autism. The facts are laid out simply, with no frills and he gets straight to the point. This guide is divided into ten sections of ten lessons which cover everything from suspecting your child has autism through to how to cope best with major life changes, school, friends and the daily life with an autistic person.

If you are hoping for an in depth analysis of autism then this book is probably not what you are looking for. However, if you are looking for an honest guide to everyday life and an insight into how an autistic child views the world, this book is a good place to start.

Although autistic children are all different, there are similar behaviours that are shared and Pacelli’s six word lessons are easy to understand and touching in their honesty. Pacelli writes that an autistic child finds change difficult, but that “really all that most autistic kids need to calm them down [is]: time.” Pacelli reveals a world that runs parallel to that of the ‘normal’ world–a world that can seem bewildering to the autistic child.

Pacelli is obviously an intelligent young man who understands that autism places him and others in a position that can be difficult for themselves and those around them. He writes about feeling “different” and about how a family can work to make their autistic child or sibling feel more accepted, more able to cope with the world.

I found Pacelli’s book interesting and informative, but at the same time rather moving. It made me realise, even more, how hard life can be for an autistic person. Pacelli has done a good job in conveying the problems that arise for someone with autism and in showing how those problems can be lessened, coped with the guide is a good starting point in the understanding of what it is to be autistic.

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