Candid and heartwarming…
Atteberry chronicles his life journey in this endearingly honest memoir that probes his struggles of trying to make something of his life while dealing with autism. He begins with his painful childhood, his mother’s diagnosis of cancer, and his subsequent placement in the foster care. He describes how from a young age he found it hard to communicate with others and how his crippling disability made him the target of extreme bullying and harassment. Struggling in junior high and later high school, he eventually became a registered veterinary technician with perfect grades and added several other accolades to his professional career, including the cat behavior consultant, certified pet grief consultant, and online suicide intervention consultant. Atteberry doesn’t have the flair of a veteran author, but his simple prose and accessible storytelling keep the reader invested throughout. Autism gave Atteberry a single-minded ability to focus on his love of video gaming, giving him advantage over other players with his ability to strategizing better and, later after graduating from high school, a gift for working with cats. Because of his own depression and his struggles with socializing, Atteberry found it easy to work with one-on-one with feral cats without overwhelming them or pushing too hard. Atteberry relates how, despite his doing well in an intimate environment, he was frustrated by his social disability, which not only hampered his relationships with others but also made him drop out of high school many times. He is vocal about his own diagnosis of depression and bipolar disorder. He doesn’t shy away from admitting his struggles with mood swings and suicidal thoughts. His policy to deal with depression and suicidal thoughts is simple: if a person can hang on for one more day, one more week, one more month to check if life can get better, he might find something worth living for. Drawing from his own experience of dealing with a death in family, he explains that people on the autism spectrum are not callus or detached, but they lack the ability to respond appropriately to others’ emotions. They grieve but their ways are different. He was expected to cry and grieve openly after the death of a family friend, and the failure to do so resulted in guilt for an exceptionally long time until he was diagnosed with autism and bipolar disorder. In the end, Atteberry succeeds in his goal of helping those on spectrum who are struggling to do well.
Note: This title is free on Kindle Unlimited.
Autistic and Proud
What Cat Rescue Has Taught Me About Hope, Acceptance, and Never Giving Up
By Zachariah Atteberry
Pub date September 17, 2020
Price $5.05 (USD) Kindle edition, $12. 99 Paperback