Nine years on this journey and I STILL get excited when I get my hands on a new book which is all about recovery from autism. I have read my fair share of books discussing anything and everything autism over the years. In fact, the only books I have read that haven’t been primarily about autism, healing the gut, the gut-brain connection, therapies relating to autism, or how to successfully support a learner with autism in the educational environment were the Fifty Shades of Grey books! Nonetheless, I was excited to get my hands on this new book which is all about the journey of hope, dedication and healing through autism.
Marcia Hinds writes about her family’s journey through autism in her new book, I Know You’re in There. Ryan Hinds was born in 1988, a time when autism’s prevalence was not the 1 in 50 we are struggling with now. This book is a great read for those just joining the autism community as well as the veterans. I think we can all agree that a journey through autism which results in recovery and losing the diagnosis is worth the read and one that we are excited to jump into, no matter where we are on this journey. The most powerful part of the book, for me, was the foreword which was written by Marcia’s son, Ryan. As a mom to an 11-year-old son with autism, that we are still working to recover, it was eye opening for me to read about how he felt regarding his mother’s sharing their journey with the public. Marcia opens her heart to us as she describes their journey off Autism Island.
The book is divided into seven parts:
Part One – Our Arrival on Autism Island
In part one, Marcia talks about the early days with Ryan, including her pregnancy and Ryan’s infant years. She then goes into Ryan’s toddler years and how she dealt with the red flags of autism that were prevalent in her son throughout those early years of development. She also discusses the difficulties experienced when they tried to take Ryan out in the community. Marcia writes vividly about her self-doubt, how others blamed her parenting for his behaviors, and how the autism was affecting their entire family unit. Marcia’s words and feelings resonated in my heart when I read through these beginning chapters. We have all experienced some of the same doubts and emotions in our journeys with autism.
Part Two – A Diagnosis and a Prescription to Nowhere
Marcia takes us through the diagnosis process for Ryan in part two and the lack of hope she and her husband were given along with Ryan’s diagnosis of autism. Sound familiar? How many of you were told your child would basically never meet developmental milestones? That you should get your child into, or continue with, speech and occupational therapy and find an ABA therapist ASAP? But that your child may need to live in a residential home, because there is no cure for autism? Marcia talks about the steps they took after Ryan’s diagnosis. She describes the conventional modalities of treatment they did, as well as the unconventional ones.
Part Three – Searching for the Cure
Marcia talks about a conversation she had with the late Dr. Bernie Rimland of the Autism Research Institute. She also discusses diet changes in part three. Have you been wondering if you should really try that crazy GFCF diet you heard about for your newly diagnosed child? You’ll be interested in seeing how removing dairy affected Ryan. Wondering what a DAN! Doctor is, or MAPS doctor as they are called today? Marcia explains it all and goes on to talk about their plan for getting off autism island and how every expert has a little piece of that map to get them off the island, but nobody has the complete blueprint. If you are a veteran in this community, how many times have you said that exact phrase to someone or to yourself out loud? I have often said, “If someone had told me, ‘Guardian, it’s going to cost you $300,000 and take 12 years, but at the end of that 12 years, here is what Kale is going to be like, and here is exactly what you need to do to get him to that point . . .’ Oh, what I would have given for that complete blueprint!”
Part three ends with Dr. Goldberg — the man with a plan for Ryan. Does your child have immune system dysfunction? Do you want the hope of recovery from autism? Marcia explains in detail how they treated Ryan’s immune dysfunction and how Dr. G feels about the word “autism.”
Part Four – Escape from Autism Island
Marcia takes us through her past, where she and her husband (pre-children years) had taken a behavioral class from Dr. Ivar Lovaas himself. That decision they made during their college years turned out to be surprisingly useful when their knowledge of behavioral therapy was able to help Ryan. As someone who has spent years studying behavior and how to successfully extinguish negative behaviors, this section of Marcia’s book was both informative and eye opening for me. We do ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) with our son and, even with my educational background, it was intriguing to read about Ryan’s progress through his home ABA program. After all, parents are our children’s best therapists, right?
Part Five – Conquering the New World
Ryan enters the school environment in this part of the book. Marcia takes us through Ryan’s complete educational years, kindergarten through college. Marcia also gives the reader an introduction to the world of IEPs (Individual Education Plan) and writes of the difficulties her son faced with social skills/situations.
Part Six – Can a Family Survive Autism?
Marcia takes us into our deepest selves as she talks about how autism affected their family over the years. She openly writes what we have all felt at one time or another. We love our children, but we do not love the autism. In chapter 39, Marcia’s husband Frank steps in and writes about his encounters with other autism dads and how Ryan’s autism affected not only himself, but his family. Marcia also shares with her readers, her daughter Megan. Ryan’s sister Megan was a big part of his team — a big part of getting him off Autism Island. Megan shares her feelings with us in Chapter 40.
Part Seven – Are We There Yet?
In the final part of the book, Marcia takes us inside the life of a family AFTER autism. She answers the question we ALL think about . . . Once you reach recovery, ARE WE DONE? FINALLY DONE?
As a “veteran” of this journey to Autism Island, I found Marcia’s book to be captivating. After all, I am still ON autism island with my son. I wanted to know HOW she and her family did it. How did they get him OFF the island? You can feel the raw emotion in her writing. You can picture her in her home doing ABA with Ryan as she extinguishes his negative behaviors, and you can picture her on the phone yelling at Dr. G. Marcia has lived a lifetime on Autism Island, and she has shared her journey with us. She has also shared with us what life feels like OFF of that island we all hope to someday experience. Well done, Marcia. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. Thank you for giving us hope. Whether new to this journey or veterans, hope should always be within us and spread among us.
To purchase Marcia’s book, please visit www.iknowyoureinthere.com. If purchased from her website, you can receive a signed and personalized copy of her book. The book is also available for purchase on Amazon.
Guardian (Sadie West) is a wife and mother to 11-year-old twin boys. A developmental therapist and autism education advocate, she has lived in the suburbs of Chicago all her life. Her mission is to teach others about the strategies that work best in educational settings so kids can be successful learners. She loves spending time with her family and friends and needs more time to do it!