Subjects for the New Year

Elizabeth Cran comment@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on December 26, 2015

What do autism and post-traumatic stress have to do with this brand-new year?

They're both conditions which we hear about frequently, and yet many of us know little about them. And we need to know more because they seem to be on the increase. We may know people who lives with these or we ourselves may have some of the characteristics.

"Better off Dead" by Fred Doucette (Nimbus, $19.95) makes this clear about PTSD, its abbreviation. Although the majority of the cases on record are those which affected members or ex-members of the Armed Forces, there are other examples; there's a Mountie, paramedics, nurses and firemen. And, above all, there are women, in any or all of these professions.

Obviously this is a very unpleasant subject, especially during the holiday seaso. But there are too many women out there suffering and getting no long-term relief. Sometimes, if there is a rapist involved, he continues to torment the women just with a look or a touch. With enough of these, no serious care, bureaucracy and being treated as the guilty one, it's no wonder some of these women are driven to suicide. This book is somewhat disorganized, but it's well worth reading - if you can stand the subject matter.

The good news about autism is that it's not a disease. In all cases, except the most serious ones where the person affected can't speak and can't learn to read, the person with the condition can be helped to cope with those unaffected. This is the message of "Autism", subtitled "The gift that needs to be opened" (Flanker, $19.95). It consists of the stories of real men and women - not all from Newfoundland - who are autistic and doing well. They are doing such things as being a stand-up comedian (the youngest person in the book), one intends to major in psychology at university, another woks "assisting youth, seniors and the unemployed "for the Canadian government, while a fourth has published a novella and "assembles and distributes a local publication known as the Coffee Break News".

Read this, it's recommended. It's assembled by the Autism Society of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Elizabeth Cran is a freelance writer who writes a book review column for The Guardian. To comment or to send her books to review, write her at her new address: 95 Orange St., Apt. 101, Saint John N.B., E2L 1M5, or call her at 506-693-5498.