Donna Williams is the author of Nobody Nowhere: The Extraordinary Autobiography of an Autistic, in which she tells of her lifelong battle with autism — a developmental disorder originating in infancy and characterized by self-absorption, repetitive and rigidly structured behavior, language dysfunction, and an inability to interact socially. Williams depicts in her book a world of disembodied color, pattern, and sound. At times she would madly rub her eyes and withdraw into "bright spots of fluffy color," attempting to escape what she called the "intrusive gabble" of other people. Torn between a dread of physical contact and a desire for emotional connection, Williams would often beat herself then assume a fetal position. "Hurting herself," as New York Times Book Review contributor Daniel Goleman relates, "or doing shocking things ... were ways to reassure herself that she did indeed exist."
Goleman explains that books such as Williams's provide a valuable insight into an unfamiliar world, "revealing to outsiders that what may seem bizarre and unpredictable follows its own internal logic, however strange." Writing for the Los Angeles Times Book Review, Chris Goodrich found that Williams "proves herself to be rigorously analytical and remarkably free of self-pity, despite a life fraught with fear, pain, and misunderstanding." Nobody Nowhere was written by Williams in her efforts to better understand her world. Only upon the advice of two therapists familiar with autism did Williams decide to publish her writings. Goleman noted that the work provides "a fascinating testimony to an intelligence undimmed by mental turmoil," while Goodrich proclaimed that "Nobody Nowhere is as brave a book as you'll ever read."
Williams told CA: "Autism is not a 'mental disorder' anymore than it is a communication, social, perceptual, or neurological disorder. It is a pervasive development disorder (PDD) affecting many areas of development. It is not a mental illness, nor is it synonymous with mental retardation."
Source: Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2003.
Source Database: Contemporary Authors
PEN (Permanent Entry Number): 0000115308