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Songs of the Gorilla Nation : My Journey Through Autism

ISBN: 9781400050581 | 1400050588
Edition: 1st
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Harmony
Pub. Date: 3/1/2004

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"This is a book about autism. Specifically, it is about my autism, which is both like and unlike other people's autism. But just as much, it is a story about how I emerged from the darkness of it into the beauty of it." So writes Dr. Dawn Prince-Hughes in the introduction to Songs of the Gorilla Nation. In this elegant and thought-provoking memoir, Dawn traces her personal growth from before she was diagnosed with autism, to the moment that she enters the Seattle Zoo and becomes immediately fascinated with the gorillas. For her, gorillas were more subtle and less threatening than humans, since she could observe them quietly and continuously, separated from them by the cage bars. With each passing day, Dawn felt compelled to re-enter the zoo and get closer and closer to the gorillas. In one particularly touching moment. Dawn recalls the precise and magical instant when a gorilla first physically touches her, and she is able to emerge from her solitude and connect to a living being in a way she had never before experienced. Dawn sees her life divided principally into three parts: a life without song, learning the songs of the gorilla nation, and finally, how she can't keep herself from singing. In the first phase, she struggles with childhood and adolescence, constantly wondering why she is different from her peers, and being confined to periods of extreme isolation. In the second part, she finally learns to become a social being through her relationship with gorillas, and eventually expands upon this to finish her education and devel- op lasting love relationships in her life. Finally, in the last phase, Dawn confronts loss with the death of her best friend, a gorilla named Congo, who helped her make the leap from a life lived in isolation to one filled with love. This loss inspires her to start a family for herself. Dawn's evocative story will no doubt have a lasting impact on all readers, forcing us, like the author herself, to re-discover and assess our own understanding of human emotion.

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