Google the characteristics of adults with autism and you may find entries like “rarely seeks contact with others” “narrow, obsessive interests,” or, in a discussion of adults with the disorder, a multi-word description that basically boils down to a word like “manipulative.” But what is the world of people with autism really like? Enter Marc William Pulver, a thoughtful, sweet soul living in the Village of Key Biscayne, who, judging from this book, couldn’t manipulate anyone if he tried and wouldn’t dream of doing even if he could. He’s written this book not only to share his own story, but also to help others with autism, which doesn’t seem a bit narrow, self-absorbed or manipulative to me.
Pulver’s story begins on March 16, 1968, when he was born a blue baby with brain damage. Right from the start, Pulver, now 54, was aware of everything, or, more aptly, overly aware because, while he may not fit into other stereotypic descriptions of autism, he certainly does possess one trait that anyone who has seen “Rainman” might recognize –an extraordinary memory. He can remember every aspect of his life, from the pictures on his “ABC” blocks to recalling the details of every meal he ate 23 years ago on a month long trip.
Within this lies the conundrum; how can someone with such ability be so buffaloed by the mundane details of ordinary life that the rest of us take for granted, from spotting an item in clear view to making friends. But that is the mystery of autism, a condition that puzzles Pulver almost as much as it does the rest of us, because this is also the touching story of a man born without an ounce of guile who just wants to fit in.
The book takes us through Pulver’s childhood, which include years of exhausting patterning therapy, which was the autism treatment of the day to his battle to fit in with other children in school and onto his quest to take his place in the adult world. Far from shunning others, Pulver’s only desires were to make friends, find love, and touchingly, to serve others.
Pulver’s book is written in his own words, which is a mix of sophistication on one hand, and misspellings on the other, a move apparently to lend more authenticity. There is also perspective from his mother, Sybil, which provides a window into her life, as well as facts about autism as well.
“Living Life with Autism,” is not a reflective book, but is more like a diary, which is a literary shortcoming. On the other hand, though, it succeeds as a diary, a record that inspires us as it takes us into the world of this courageous man who is determined to shatter the prevalent myths about what it’s like to live with autism.
Living with Autism: The World Through My Eyes
Marc William Pulver
Dog Ear Publishing