May 14, 2013

Growing up with autism

Eighteen-year-old Taylor Jane Simon has autism/Asperger's Syndrome. She has difficulty making eye contact, can't stand the colour yellow, sticks to strict routines, and often misconstrues other people's reactions. Prone to temper tantrums and inappropriate outbursts, she is a trial to her long-suffering mother, who's not too stable herself. Impatient and extremely overprotective, Taylor's mother comes across as uncaring and unsympathetic.

In these three novels by Beverley Brenna, we follow Taylor as she tries to negotiate society and live an independent life. As we listen to Taylor's voice, we gain an understanding of her challenges, and learn to appreciate a whole new perspective.

In Wild Orchid,Taylor must adjust to a new situation when she spends the summer away from home. She would like to find a boyfriend, but instead finds new friends, a rare orchid, and even a job. By the end, Taylor has begun to find her identity and starts to make plans for the future.

Taylor seems to have regressed a bit in the next novel, Waiting For No One.Her obsessive-compulsive tendencies cause her to muff a job interview, and she can't stop wanting to clean. Still, she's able to study biology at university and goes to a weekly dance class. She also meets poetry-quoting Luke Phoenix, and forms a bond with Luke's brother Martin, who has cerebral palsy.

The White Bicyclehas Taylor, her mother, and the Phoenix family in France. Taylor has been hired as Martin's personal assistant. When she's not looking after Martin, she's painting or visiting an elderly friend, with whom she has a surprising connection. Taylor also has time to reflect back on her childhood and how it has affected her. Along the way, she learns to be more assertive when dealing with her mother, who is even more controlling this time out. The trilogy concludes positively as we see Taylor taking control of her adult life and embracing the future.

No comments: