Expanding on themes of her previous book, Autism: An Inside-Out Approach, Donna Williams explains how the senses of a person with autism work, suggesting that they are 'stuck' at an early development stage common to everyone. She calls this the system of sensing, claiming that most people move on to the system of interpretation which enables them to make sense of the world. In doing so, as well as gaining the means of coping with the world, they lose various abilities which people with autism retain. She goes so far as to suggest that the constraints of space and time do not exist in the same way for autistic people, and that the emotional as well as the physical world is seen and therefore approached in a different way.
The book provides a fascinating insight into the way that people with autism perceive the world, going into far more depth than Williams' previous books.
This is a book about experience of sensing not the mechanics of perception. As well as being deliciously descriptive it is also gently philosophical, and I found it soothing and calming to read. The basis of the book is the idea that most people move quickly on from sensing the world to interpreting it, but that autistic people either remain in the sensing stage or never quite fully let go of it. I identified with a lot of the thoughts and experiences related here. This is my favourite of all of Donna Williams's books. -- Asperger Information.net gives a fascinating and detailed insight into an intelligent, gifted, autistic woman's experience of her world based on what she calls her "preconscious sensing" and resonating, rather than conscious thought and mental interpretation. For those working with autistic children or adults who are still withdrawn and non-communicative, this book explains why they are so hard to reach, even by caring adults... by the end of this book I had an in-depth understanding of the rich, vibrant inner world of the autistic. -- Young Minds [Williams'] work does provide a fascinating insight into many aspects of the world of autism and, in so doing, provides a mirror that reflects back distortions in the world of so-called "normal" people. -- The Therapist Donna Williams continues to provide insights into the ways in which a person with autistic spectrum disorder experiences the world. Donna's books increasingly strive to make sense of her memories of childhood and of her development into an adult who can share her contrasting way of being. In this book she suggests that, for people with autism, their senses become 'stuck' at an early stage of development, rather than being subsumed into an interpreting, mind-based way of coping with the world: the system of interpretation Donna suggests that, for most people, the development of mind dominates more primitive emotions which continue to be experienced by people who are 'stuck' at the sensing level. We should be grateful that the author was eventually able to make the leap into our world of interpretation and can share with us such valuable insights. This is a book to be read and considered by all who live or work with people with autism, in order to appreciate their 'complementary' way of experiencing the world. -- Child Language Teaching and Therapy This is a fascinating book in which Donna Williams elaborates on the ideas proposed in her previous autobiographical works. Ms Williams suggests that we all go through a developmental process from purely sensing the world, to being able to interpret it. People with autism are either 'stuck' in the sensory phase or, if they emerge from it, do so at a later stage and with great difficulty. According to this model, the benefits of being able to interpret arise at the cost of losing true sensing ability. That is, the 'feel' of people, the 'smell' of colours, the texture of objects which give the author understanding of her environment, these are experiences no longer recognisable to those of us who have moved on to interpret instead. Many parents would recognise aspects of their children's behaviour in those described in this book. I was intrigued by the author's idiosyncratic use of language, to describe her experiences: in one instance she used `lemons' to define `the sensation of acute and intense exposure to anxiety, resulting in an involuntary or instinctual aversion response', based on the physical reaction evoked by eating lemons. Anyone who enjoyed her previous work will no doubt find this equally riveting. -- Communication
Foreword. Introduction. 1. Origins. 2. Who's Me? 3. The Essence of `Social'. 4. The Everything of Nothing. 5. The Mechanics of Sensing. 6. In Resonance (Resonance). 7. Giving Self a Chance to Answer. 8. The Getting of Clever. 9. `Seeing Ghosts'. 10. War or Growth? 11. Blah Blah and Ideas. 12. Progress? 13. Beyond an Exchange of Cultures. 14. Multiplicity. 15. Psychic? 16. Why Nobody's Talking. 17. Mechanics Problems. 18. Imagine.