First half of Songs of the Gorilla Nation

One question that I kept asking myself while reading Songs of the Gorilla Nation is how much of Dawn’s characteristics were actually because of her Asperger’s, and how much of them were just things that “normal” kids do that happen to be a little quirky. Maybe it’s just me, but I remember doing a lot of the things she talked about doing as a child. For example, I loved hiding in the coat racks while shopping with my mom, and I always worried about non-living objects having feelings or “missing me” while I was gone. I, too, remember vivid details from my early childhood, and I don’t know if that’s something that is just more typical in people with Asperger’s, or if she was just trying to capture her perspective from when she was a child, in some ways irrespective of her being autistic.

It is interesting to me how in these younger years, Dawn seemed so much like myself or perhaps other “normal” children, and yet was still different enough socially to be on the autism spectrum. I also found her claiming to remember being born pretty fascinating. I was skeptical at first, but then again it does make sense that because of her Asperger’s she might have been advanced enough, even as a newborn, to be able to comprehend what was going on around her. I was also a bit confused as to why Dawn’s parents did not step in when she decided to drop out of high school or when she was wandering the streets as a homeless person. In the same way, I was wondering why they were so quick to move out of state in the first place without considering the best interests of their disabled child.

Dawn’s positionality is unique because although she is autistic, she is obviously very intelligent. It really struck me how she explained that not seeming blatantly autistic to the outside world has been both a compliment and yet kind of upsetting at the same time. Since taking this class, I can definitely understand her point about people not realizing how hard her daily life is, only because she seems so capable compared to many other individuals with autism.


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