AUTHOR: Cariello, Carrie
SUBJECT AREA: Autism-Parenting
PUBLISHER: Riddle Brook Publishing Co.
PUBLICATION DATE: 2015
NUMBER OF PAGES: 224 (814 KB for Kindle Edition)
Not too long ago, I reviewed Carrie Cariello’s first book What Color is Monday? I found it to be a fascinating and delightful read. Now, the author has a sequel of sorts that is even better. Someone I’m With Has Autism is a compilation of blogs about her son Jack, who until now, was not informed about his diagnosis. Rather than describing their family of five children as a whole, the author focuses on Jack and how he relates to the family, the community and society and most importantly to his own brand of autism. It is a combination of charm, unbridled anxiety, extreme difficulty with social nuances and a brilliant mind all rolled up into a colorful ball of invisible string intertwined on itself.
The book has three parts: Family, Community and Bajillions, with the first part focusing on Jack’s relationship with his family. The second part is about his forays into the outside world and the third part focuses on autism with Bajillions referring to the rising number of people diagnosed with ASD. The book is sprinkled with vignettes about meals, shopping, trips, school, and life in general, but what is so poignant is Jack’s reaction to his diagnosis of autism-he just hates it. He wants the autism to be gone; he has absorbed the message that autism has to be cured and that it the proverbial “Elephant in the Room”. What his parents see and the reader too, is that in among the khaki, brown and dark gray of autism is a brighter palette-that of cobalt blue, viridian, bright orange, crimson, yellow, purple and so much more! His sense of humor, charm and brilliance shine through the clouds and the author knows it!
I liked this book even better than the first one as one sees a deeper view into the family and in Jack and what makes him tick. The reader really gets to know Jack as his personality just flies off the page and into one’s heart as he bounces from one thing to another and as his mother always seems to teeter on the edge of a nervous breakdown, yet manages to steady herself in among the chaos. There are deeper, more philosophical insights in this second volume compared to the first and the reader can’t help but feel badly for Jack as he tries to absorb the information about his ASD, yet, seems unable to accept it for what it is. One has to applaud Mrs. Cariello for not giving into the “Cure of the Month Club,” although Jack does take Melatonin which helps him get to sleep. It feels as though he is swimming through molasses with everyday life a constant struggle.
Yet, he starts to make progress and the reader sees that he is indeed taking small steps, such as learning empathy toward others and starting to put himself in the other person’s shoes, so to speak.
This is a much more honest account of family life with autism-the author mixes the negative with the positive. There are difficulties mixed with incremental steps of progress which is how autism usually works. I couldn’t put this book down and if one has read What Color is Monday?, you should also read Someone I’m With Has Autism. The title comes from the author’s decision to have small business cards with the saying “Someone I’m with Has Autism-It’s Complicated.” This really hits the nail on the head, as autism really is complicated!