Friday, August 26, 2011

Review: Autism By Hand by Lorca Damon

In the author's words, "I never wanted to write this book. I can’t write this book, it hurts too much. But I have to because this book wasn’t there when I needed it. It’s not a human-interest story or a self-help book or an instruction manual on how to raise an autistic child. It’s simply a well-thought out laundry list of everything I did to help my daughter be the best person she could become and I did it in the dark because this book wasn’t there for me."

I'm not a mother. I'm the father of two wonderfully "normal" young men. I cannot begin to imagine what the mother of an autistic child, or any special needs child, endures 24/7/365 for life. But I am eternally grateful to Lorca Damon for sharing her life. Autism By Hand offers an honest, sometimes harsh, look at how one mother learned to care for her autistic child. The author warns her readers there will be no sugar coating, just real and raw strategies that work with her daughter.

The author likens her role to being on the edge of a cliff, holding tight to her daughters hand as the child hangs precariously over the abyss. There is no time for sugar coating or self pity, only positive action. She offers that positive action in a beautifully written narrative that inspires both laughter and tears. I read over half the book at one sitting, unable to put it down, then tweeted the author to let her know how unbelievably awesome she is. I read the remainder without stopping.

Though the book is written as a guide to mothers of autistic children, or any caregiver for that matter, it is a wealth of knowledge for any parent. I recognized many of the same struggles we had with our own children, yet multiplied a hundred fold. Where the parent of a developmentally "normal" child may struggle across a hurdle once, or over the course of days or weeks, the struggles continue for years or even a lifetime for the autistic parent and child. The most mundane social skills that our children learned by simply being kids are major milestones to be overcome day after day.

I couldn't help but fall in love with Carrie through the selfless unconditional love her mother reveals in every line of Autism by Hand. I was introduced to the most beautiful, sweet, funny, and gifted little girl I can imagine. And I learned a little about the author - an amazing woman who seems too busy raising two girls to take herself very seriously. Her self-depreciating humor and wit make Autism by Hand a delightful read even given the tragic nature of its subject. Carrie could not have been given a better hand to hold through her life in our strange world.

The author describes herself as "a wife, mother, writer, teacher, triathlete, marathon runner, and overall snarky person." And says, "Between the hours of midnight and four when I used to do nothing but just lie there, I am now a staff writer for’s online magazine..." You can find the author's wit and wisdom on her blog or follow her on Twitter.


  1. Adore Lorca and have recommended her book to several friends and family members with autistic children.

    It's so great to see this wonderful review of her book, and I couldn't admire her more for writing it.


  2. Everything Lorca writes seizes my attention because I know I'll be laughing before it's over. Autism was a daily part of my life growing up as we lived next door to my mother's folks, and my aunt Robin (my mom's younger sister) has a form of low-functioning autism. It's still a part of my life since my folks now live with and take care of my grandparents and Robin and I hear all the latest goings-on in our frequent conversations. (And there's ALWAYS something...)

    I would have been very interested in this book anyway, but this preview lets me know that it's not a total departure from the snarky, hilarious, dead-on humor that I depend on from Lorca. It's just been applied to a situation where humor helps.

    I can't wait to read Autism By Hand.

  3. Thanks Eden and Ann. Lorca is pretty amazing and Autism By Hand really touched me. She has a way of ripping your heart out one minute then having you rolling on the floor the next.