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Through the eyes of autism

Expecting Teryk is reviewed by Bonnie Auyeung, Doctoral Scientist, University of Cambridge, UK.

Dawn Prince-Hughes, author of Songs of the gorilla nation: my journey through autism, shares her experiences during the period just before the birth of her child. She considers the ways that being autistic might affect and enlighten her parenting – not only for herself but also for her child.

Expecting Teryk: an exceptional path to parenthood is an honest and intimate reflection of her life and path to parenthood. It is written in the form of a letter from a parent to her unborn son. She relays the hopes and dreams she has for her son, while consciously expressing her hopes to be a loving and attentive parent.

Expecting Teryk is seen through the eyes of autism as Prince-Hughes shares the unique way she sees and experiences the world. She describes her childhood and honestly relates her experiences as she sees them. Her writing is full of unique accounts of life described through all the senses including colour, textures and tastes. She recounts her experience of growing up and facing the difficulties of someone who is seen as different.

As an anthropologist, Prince-Hughes studies gorillas and she describes the many ways in which her relationships with her gorilla friends taught her about emotions and life. She also candidly narrates her experience of becoming a parent as part of a lesbian couple – from meeting her partner to the questions they ask about their readiness to become parents and the practical considerations of choosing a sperm donor.

Unique perspective

This book is filled with poetry and expressions of love that only a family can offer. She offers honest reflections of her worries and dreams and gives us a unique perspective of the world. She challenges everyday perspectives of what is the norm and provides enlightenment with a new and interesting perspective on what it is to be of one sex, autistic and a parent.

Prince-Hughes uses examples from nature to describe different forms of parenting which, in turn, help to relate her hopes and aspirations for her family. These anecdotes from nature enable readers to take a new perspective on what it is to be human and what it is to be a parent. She describes these in such a way that provides reassurance for those who have ever felt that they may not follow societal and cultural standards of the ‘typical path’ to parenthood.

This book is composed of freely and fluently expressed emotions of every kind – particularly love. Expecting Teryk is a rich and sumptuous work that speaks to the deeper realities and represents a unique viewpoint of experiences shared by all individuals who choose the path to parenthood.

Bonnie Auyeung

Expecting Teryk: an exceptional path to parenthood, by Dawn Prince-Hughes, 2005, Ohio: Swallow Press/Ohio University Press. ISBN 0 8040 1080 3. Price: £10

First published in Disability, Pregnancy & Parenthood international, Issue 53/54, Spring/Summer 2006.

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