The Netherlands – Ellen Van Gelder was 39-years-old when she was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. She also has a diagnosis of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Tourette syndrome and emetophobia. I’m Not Strange. I Have Autism is a collection of her thoughts and feelings about living on the autism spectrum and being different.
Product description reads as:
‘In I Am Not Strange, I Have Autism, author Ellen van Gelder gives a clear insight in the life of someone with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. She does this in 26 chapters, arranged from A to Z. Along with her own side of the story, she also includes stories of her ‘fellow autists’, who give their take on life with autism.
With these practical insights, I Am Not Strange, I Have Autism is an inspiring book for people with ASD who are looking for more balance in their lives, but also for partners, caregivers, family members, or others who want to learn more about an ASD. It gives a nice and clear insight in the being-different of ASD.’
Ellen is from The Netherlands and so therefore the book was originally published in Dutch. However, this version loses none of its meaning in its translation. The book gives you an A – Z of Autism which I love. We hear from Ellen herself in her honest and frank writings about living with both diagnosed and undiagnosed autism. Ellen is a trained teacher and taught for many years in both a full time and part time role. She no longer teaches but volunteers at a care facility where she looks after elderly residents with dementia, and through her writing you can clearly tell that she loves her work there.
I was lucky enough to be able to read this book and as a parent of child with ASD, I relished the opportunity to do so. I like to read about other parents experiences, as I can often empathise with these parents’ as well as learning some valuable life lessons along the way. However, ultimately, what I find most useful is reading books such as these, were an individual who has autism shares their life experiences and what it is truly like to live with autism from the inside.
Ellen lays herself bare in this book I feel, along with the many contributors from a forum for individuals with ASD, which offer a great insight of how it is for the individual, something that I will never truly and fully understand. These individuals within Ellen’s book are referred to as fellow Autists, (this I love).
After reading the book, I contacted Ellen in order to ask her some questions about her fascinating book. My interview with Ellen can be read next.