42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on January 15, 2008
This book was one of the best books I have read about autism. I feel like I understand my son (with autism) so much more than I did before. The author was excellent at helping us understand how he perceives the world. It is amazing to me how much people with autism are misunderstood. This book makes it clear that autism is not a disability of the mind but rather an alternate way of perceiving the world around us. This book is a must read!
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on January 18, 2008
An inspirational and poetic story that gives a unique window into the perceptions and experiences of a non-verbal autistic boy from a very young age through young adulthood. Also, this book tells a wonderful story of Tito's mother Soma, who along with Tito, gave up their family, culture and daily comforts in search of a way to allow Tito to communicate and share his world. This search led to a lifetime of work and sacrifice which has resulted in Tito being able to share his life with us through this book. Tito wonderfully describes the misconception of autism as a "disease" rather than a "disability", and the perhaps misplaced need for families, and indeed society, to find a "cure" for autism rather than focusing on maximizing the true (and often hidden) potential of autistic persons through meaningful education, support, dignity and respect. This story is a rare, first person account of Tito's growing up with autism and being able to perceive and understand the world around him, while at the same time being unable to communicate his experiences until learning to write. Tito sums up his story with, ". . . I feel blessed for being what I am." We are blessed and privileged to share his story.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on July 25, 2010
This is my first book review - EVER. I really hope that Tito reads these reviews. I want so badly to tell him how this book has effected my whole perception of autism even having read so many other books about the subject. My nine year old daughter has autism and a MR diagnosis and is still non-verbal. I have so longed to understand her world and reading this felt like a breath of fresh air and truth. It is moving, revealing and beautifully written. Because of this book and the voice of many other people with autism, I have now begun to communicate with my daughter through spelling on a keyboard. WOW! No words, but to say that reading this book was an enormous inspiration to look beyond what anyone thought was possible for a non-verbal severely affected child with autism. I read her some of the book and she said she liked it. When I asked why she typed: "I like that he is like me". The whole world needs to know the truth about autism and this book paves the way to a much deeper understanding! Brilliant!
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on January 20, 2008
This is a front row seat on a journey through the mind of a phenomenal young man ! Tito articulately and artistically addresses some of the most common misconceptions about Autism ! Many things this author wrote about from his own experiences I found similar to my own son who is autistic. Tito offers his readers a unique outlook on autism . One that the rest of the world needs to take a good long look at!
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on February 26, 2008
It was an awesome book! I loved his earlier book "The mind tree" and this book is just as good. Tito's early and vivid memories of his childhood at such a young age is truly amazing!
His poetic and visual writings allow me to see things from his point of view and opens a window into the world of autism through his eyes.
His book is truly a voice and a wake up call to all those who don't believe in the hidden intelligence that the mayority of people with autism possess. It's really a matter of opening our eyes and forcing us as society to look beyond the physical, what we see on the outside. The famous old saying "don't judge a book by it's cover" truly applies to autism.
Thank you Tito for continuing to teach us to look beyond the superficial and into the soul of the person. You are so blessed to have had Soma in your live and we are so Blessed to have her in our kid's life. Thank you for sharing her with the world! She truly is amazing as you are.
Ivonne Fernandez (CA)
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Tito is a gifted young man and an equally gifted poet. His work gives readers insight into his experience with severe autism. Tito's mother Soma, a tireless advocate for people with autism has worked like a soldier on his behalf using a communication board consisting of cut-out letters and punctuation marks. Her tireless efforts paid dividends - in 1994, Tito, then 6 was not only reading fluently, he was writing poems.
For many people with autism who are nonverbal or marginally verbal, synthesizing words that are heard into speech can be challenging. The more severely one is affected, the greater is the challenge in decoding words into separate units of communication. This applies to many people with more severe autism.
Soma and Tito left India and everything and everybody they knew to come to the United States. Their mission was to make Soma's method of teaching people with severe autism known. Iversen's son Dov was also severely autistic and nonverbal. Soma and Tito worked with Dov and in time, Dov's math prowess and communicative skills became apparent. Dov's story is featured in Strange Son.
While Tito calls autism a "disease," it is not. Rather, it is a neurobiological condition that affects sensory processing and/or integration and communication to varying degrees. It is not AUTISM that needs to be cured so much as it is intolerance towards those who have autism. While such a cure would indeed be wonderful, so would the end of intolerance and rude portrayals of people with autism as prodigious savant stereotypes.
Not only is the world at large fortunate to have Tito share his insights, the world is all the more fortunate to have Soma and Tito working as a team. Soma has developed the RPM (Rapid Prompting Method) and has a very high batting average in her work with clients who have autism. She and Tito have created HALO, Helping Autism through Learning & Outreach, a nonprofit organization that provides 1x1 intensive work with people with autism.
The Doors' classic "Break on Through to the Other Side" could be the soundtrack of this stellar book.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 15, 2010
How Can I Talk If My Lips Don't Move is a book written by an autistic young adult, who was 19 years old at the time he wrote it. He was non-verbal for much of his childhood and still continues to struggle with verbal language, and yet he is very expressive in his writing. The book is a fascinating look inside the mind of the author, Tito Rajarshi, especially as a young child. He was born and spent his early years in India, then later moved to the U.S., first to California and then to Texas. He describes with vivid detail scenes from as early as three years old and what was going through his mind and with his senses. He describes why he was obsessed with the mirror on the second floor of one of the homes he grew up in and ceiling fans and switches in the other.
One theme throughout the book is the patience, perseverance and belief in her son that Tito's mother had throughout his childhood. She taught him all kinds of things that so many people would have thought were beyond his capability to learn. Sometimes it took a long time to learn a new skill, and sometimes it needed to be broken into very small steps, but she never seemed to doubt, at least in her son's eyes, his ability to learn. Even when he was very young and unable to communicate much to her, she continued to teach him, confident that he was taking it in.
He first learned to communicate using words when he learned to spell and write when he was five and six. First he used a letter board and pointed to each letter, and then soon after, he learned to write on his own. Now he is an author and has given the world a very unique look at non-verbal and very limited-verbal autism. This is his description of some of the things that caused him anxiety as a very young child:
"One experience diffused into the next. And every experience settled in my mind as an example of a natural phenomenon, which laid down the rules of the world. For instance, if I saw a bird on a tree, and, at that very moment, I saw someone walking across the street in front of our gate, I concluded that every time a bird sits on a tree, someone needs to walk across the street, What if they did not happen together? Well, I would panic and get so anxious I would scream."
"I remember my voice screaming when I could not see my shadow anywhere around me. I wondered whether it had left me here all alone. I was afraid that I would loose my existence because my shadow had left me. I thought and believed that my shadow was an extension of my body. The feeling of loosing my shadow was like losing a part of my body."
About his senses when he was very young:
"My hearing would become increasingly powerful whenever that happened (hearing real sounds) and I stopped seeing anything. I could focus all my concentration on only one sense, and that is hearing. I am not sure whether or not I had to put any kind of effort toward hearing because I was too young and uninformed in science to analyze the sensory battle that was taking place within my nervous system. It just meant that my colors would disappear if there were sounds vibrating around me."
"Mother knew nothing of my selective vision when I was three. I could look at certain things but not at others. Things that calmed my senses were easier to see, while things that stressed my vision were not easy to look at. So perhaps I could not see things as people expected me to see."
Something Tito overheard her mother say to his father:
"What is the use of going to someone's house when I cannot carry on a conversation because I am constantly trying to keep Tito from playing with the switches?"
His difficulty with his senses, becoming obsessed with things and overgeneralizing situations (like the bird on the tree and the person walking by) routinely caused him crippling anxiety and would lead to screaming and tantrums frequently during the early years. To me it was fascinating to hear what caused anxiety and that most of his tantrums and screaming at a young age were a result of feeling very anxious. On a broader level, it applies to all children. Their tantrums may seem ridiculous and illogical to us, but to them there is something going on, either actual or perceived that is causing them very real distress. A lot of the extreme anxiety calmed as Tito got older and learned how the world worked a little better. He still gets stressed and anxious in certain situations, but overall, things are much better for him. As a parent of a child with autism, this book provided me with valuable insight and a renewed understanding of the anxieties that my daughter goes through each day. If you are a parent, teacher or friend of someone with autism, this book in an invaluable read.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 29, 2011
How to even describe this book? I must admit that even though I am "neuro-typical" to use terminology from its pages, I cannot write nearly as well as this young man. I found his descriptions of his perceptions and the way his mind works to be completely fascinating. And his mother ... wow ... she is the very definition of a loving, patient mother. To be able to continue working with her son, despite the incorrect conclusions from doctors and teachers and to continue to believe in his abilities in the face of what must have felt like overwhelming odds shows a rare strength of character. Too many parents refuse to admit their child isn't perfect, and yet this mother looked at her son with honesty and worked tirelessly on his behalf. Kudos to them both! This book is an exceptional read and I highly recommend it!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 5, 2011
I read this book with growing incredulity. I am a retired Teacher and Social Worker with many years of experience and have worked with children and adults with handicaps and learning difficulties of all kinds, including Autism, Downs Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy et al. This book is amazing, and i would thoroughly recommend that every parent, teacher, social worker, and indeed the whole medical profession who will benefit mightily from an insight into how the mind of an autistic child/adult works.to read it. I was moved beyond everything by how Tito's Mother's persevered tirelessly to develop her son's perception of the world. Tito, himself has an enormous gift literally, poetic in his presentations of his growth and his understanding of his behaviour whilst he was still a small child and up unto the present time. Wonderful work, wonderful writing, my heartiest congratulations to Tito and his mom.Everybody else must read this book. When you see a child screaming, or rocking uncontrollably, showing terror at innocuous objects, perhaps you will learn not to judge so quickly definitely a five star must read.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2011
Utterly riveting and ambiguously discordant in terms of actuality, the way he views the world is different from us- the emotive objects, feelings experienced in a spectrum of color...it changed the way I viewed autism forever. I believe this book is vital in understanding the different perspective that our neural pathways take, and to point out that different doesn't mean unintelligent. He just sees the world through special eyes.