Title: How to Be Human- An Autistic Man’s Guide to Life
Author(s): Jory Fleming & Lyric Winik
Number of Pages: 192
As a child, Jory Fleming was considered to be significantly autistic and prospects for him succeeding in the outside world didn’t seem good. Now he’s attending Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholer, the first adult with autism to do so. A lot of this book is Lyric Winik asking him questions about his life and the way his mind works and him answering them.
It’s not a memoir in the strictest sense; I don’t get the feeling that writing is Jory’s thing so maybe that was why it was mostly (if not entirely) dictated. At first I was doubtful about this book because Jory Fleming is very religious and I was afraid it was going to be a ‘Christian’ type book, which is really not my thing. It turned out okay, though.
Some parts were dry and others went over my head but seeing how Jory’s mind works differently from other people’s and how he has learned to that as an asset was really interesting. For one thing, Jory has no internal monologues. I’ve heard of that condition but I have no idea how that would work. It baffles me, probably because my own internal monologue is so overwhelmingly present in everything I do.
He also has cerebral palsy, even though the book doesn’t go into that as much. The way he experiences emotions is unusual and he has a very literal, logical way of looking at things. He considers this a positive because he doesn’t get as mired in sentiment and hurt feelings as other people. You could tell he was very close to his mother and she played a big role in helping him succeed.
It was also nice to see homeschooling painted in a more redeeming light; his mom chose to homeschool him and it seems like it was a very positive experience for him. I didn’t relate to Jory Fleming like I relate to a lot of people in books about ASD. We have very different personalities and learning styles but that was part of what made it interesting. I enjoyed getting to know him and learning more about his own experiences with autism spectrum disorder.