I Am in Here, a book by 13 Year Old Elizabeth Bonker

I Am in Here, a book by 13 Year Old Elizabeth Bonker

I Am in Here is by Elizabeth Bonker and Virginia Breen. This is the true story of Elizabeth, a thirteen year old girl with autism, who breaks through her silence, thanks to the relentless efforts of her mother Virginia. By keyboarding poetry, Elizabeth is now able to reveal her inner thoughts and observations in a profound way.

Over many years, Elizabeth has learned to type independently on a letterboard and computer. She began to write poetry, and has since written more than 100 poems. This child, who had been diagnosed as mentally retarded, was at last able to reveal her gifted mind. In a poem entitled “Me” Elizabeth expresses her wish to be understood:

An Excerpt From I Am in Here

I sometimes fear
That people cannot understand
That I hear.

And I know
That they don’t believe I go
To every extreme
To try to express
My need to talk.

If only they could walk
In my shoes
They would share my news:

I am in here.

And trying to speak everyday
In some kind of way.

For me the internet has provided a way of ‘reaching out’. When I first started blogging, it was such a release to write. It still amazes me that three years later it is so cathartic – and poetry is the same way for Elizabeth Bonker – except that I can speak when I want to, and Elizabeth can’t.

I read ‘I Am in Here’ while on a road trip, and it gave me regular doses of perspective as I went through it. It helped me understand how much I depend on my words, and the words of my family.

I’m recommending ‘I Am in Here’ for anyone that has been touched by autism, and for those who have no direct connection to autism, I encourage you to pick up a copy too. I don’t think someone who hasn’t looked autism in the face can really understand what goes through those that deal with it every day, but Elizabeth’s thoughts and poetry will certainly have you thinking about it anew or differently than you have in the past.

Available October 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Ginnie Breem, Elizabeth’s mother and co-author of the book, will be on “The Today Show” Wednesday, November 9.


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