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Blazing My Trail: Living and Thriving with Autism

5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 142 pages
  • Publisher: Rachel B. Cohen-Rottenberg (2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0984138811
  • ISBN-13: 978-0984138814
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,623,699 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
In Rachel's second book about living with autism, she shares more of her adventures in self-advocacy, talks about harmful medications, and shares some adaptations that have made her life happier. This alone would make this book worth reading. However, the part of the book I love the most is the way she works to deconstruct cultural attitudes about disability and offers suggestions to our society at large about needed changes. Chapter six addresses this in detail although Rachel intersperses it throughout the book.

I love Rachel's comment on page forty-eight, "I've come to understand that one of the primary reasons that disabled people are so ostracized and excluded in our society is that we remind everyone that life is a messy, fragile, difficult thing." She determines that in many ways she is fortunate to face difficulties now as she believes this is better than having lived a charmed life only to find yourself disabled due to aging. She talks about life's difficulties, but notes, "Difficulty is not the same as impossible!"

I found myself nodding my head in agreement many times as I read. Those of us who experience autism whether, as a parent or directly can tell you that naysayers are a part of life with autism. Another favorite comment is on page sixty, "There are people who will never understand that some things cannot be overcome by will power."

Chapter five beautifully addresses the issue of asking for and receiving needed accommodations and the painful realities of abuse that some with disabilities also face. She quotes someone she met over twenty years ago at a support group, "There is not such thing as better or worse when it comes to abuse. Once someone forces us to cross that line, we're all in this together." Amen!!!
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Format: Paperback
Many books on autism/asperger are focused around how impossible it is to live with. While they are useful for acknowledging the difficulties, they do little in terms of 'So... now what?'.
Rachel's perspective is finally one I can say I share: yes there are these aspects of us that make ordinary things difficult, but let's not forget that those same aspects can also sometimes make extraordinary things a breeze, let's see what can be gotten out of that!

She starts this book with an overview of where she was when she wrote the prequel to this one, then quickly moves on to point out how much has changed and what some key elements were in how she got from then to now.

She does use the word 'disability' frequently, which would probably have put me off had I read this much earlier in my own process of figuring things out. It is not a term that I would use so eagerly myself, I prefer to look at things in terms of 'difference' (which then, indeed, can be a disability in terms of 'the world is not designed for this'). However her social/societal commentary that comes after very clearly explains why she chooses this angle and she certainly has a point that applies to all forms of 'disability'; not only the autism spectrum.

Her solutions and workarounds do not exactly match own experience, but it is encouraging to find someone who shares my perspective, and who has already proved that understanding oneself plus adjusting accordingly can indeed dramatically improve your quality of life.
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Format: Paperback
When we last left Rachel's story, she had fully accepted her place on the autism spectrum and was making plans to take control of parts of her life. The plans weren't big plans but every long journey begins with small steps.

At times, it feels like an entirely different person has written this book. This Rachel is capable, confident, assertive (without being nearly so argumentive) and full of promise.

Yes, it is a sequel and indeed in the first chapter or two, it feels like you need to have read the first book - but then it all changes and from then on, whenever it references past events, it provides a handy recap.

I feel that the titles of the books were very well chosen, with "The Uncharted Path" being about taking uncertain steps into unknown territory and Blazing My Trail being about running with full confidence along that path and leaving a trail for others to follow.

I get the feeling that Rachel's experience with medications had a lot to do with this positive turn of events and she spends a bit of time talking about their effect. Her medication experience is a good reminder that regardless of how many second opinions you get, not all drugs are suitable and all must be strictly monitored with specific measurable goals in place. Some types of drugs shouldn't be taken except in the most crucial of situations.

The book provides a lot of practical and ready-to-use advice and insight for adults on the spectrum (and parents of children on the spectrum). In particular, Rachel talks about ways to overcome the sound and spatial sensitivities which are obviously the issues which give her the most trouble. Rachel also covers everyday events such as standing up for your rights as an individual - something that many shy(?
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