How to Be Human, Diary of an Autistic Girl.
“A distinctive addition to the chorus of writers who are proving that “spectrum disorders” do not equal “silence.” (Kirkus Reviews via Creston Books)
Autism Daily Newscast continues to look at girls and ASD with Marissa Moss and a book by a teenage girl with autism. Ms Moss, from the San Francisco Bay Area, is an author and illustrator best known for her Amelia’s Notebook series of children’s books. She is also the publisher and editor in chief of Creston Books, which is based in Berkeley, California. They publish picture books which are author/illustrator driven.
‘How to Be Human, Diary of an Autistic Girl’, is written by Florida Frenz, a now 16 year old girl who has Autism. The book is a collection of insightful journal entries made by her when growing up. She beautifully illustrates and articulates the difficulties that she encountered when growing up and shows how she received the help to overcome these daily obstacles.
“Diagnosed with autism as a three-year-old, Florida is now an articulate 15-year-old whose explorations into how kids make friends, what popularity means, how to handle peer pressure will resonate with any pre-teen. For those wondering what it’s like inside an autistic child’s head, Florida’s book provides amazing insight and understanding.” Creston Books
Florida talks about her many difficulties including understanding and reading other people’s emotions and facial expressions, understanding your own feelings and the issue of friendship. What is very interesting is that she describes how her brained is wired differently and that she has had to learn and give herself the right tools in which to learn to function and socialise in the world.
‘Only when I gained social skills and therefore effective means to communicate with others, was I able to gain some control; over my surroundings…Learning how to communicate allowed me to understand how normal brains work, which let me see that if even we were from different planets, we had a lot in common.’
Taken from, How to Be Human
Autism Daily Newscast had the pleasure of interviewing Marissa Moss and asked how she found this young author and discovered her book.
Marissa told us that she has known Florida for many years. She told us:
“My sister, Shelah Moss, is the therapist who has worked with her since she was very young. When I would give author presentations at bookstores in their neighbourhood, Shelah would bring Florida. I’ve seen how much she’s developed, how hard she’s worked, and how far she’s come. In fact Shelah would use my series, Amelia’s Notebook, as models for Florida for how to understand, measure, and express her own feelings through words and pictures. “
Marissa told us that the therapy Florida received soon turned into a creative outlet that gave a unique voice and perspective. Marissa explains:
“Shelah showed me some of the pages and I included them in talks I gave to teachers about the power of journal writing. When I started Creston Books I approached Shelah with the idea of Florida turning those notebook pages into a book. We didn’t touch the original notebook pages, but Florida had to write the “steps,” and she’s the one who came up with the concept of learning to fit in with the “human” world.”
Marissa told Autism Daily Newscast that she learned a lot about the world of Autism through meeting Florida and believes that Florida can help people gain a better of understanding of what it is like to be autistic.
This can be clearly seen in the following letter that Florida wrote to help a younger learning disabled child.
When I learned I was Autistic, I cried about it for many months. It was good to know why I was different and why I had adults helping me and not other children around. Still it was sad knowing that I possessed a disability that I hadn’t asked anyone for and that would make me unable to do some things for the rest of my life…The good thing is most of the time, I really don’t think about having Autism now, because I realized that constantly grieving wouldn’t get me anywhere and that our strengths are more important to making us successful than most of our weaknesses. Be sure to work on your weaknesses, too, though. Florida” (Creston Books)