How to Be Human: Diary of an Autistic Girl by Florida Frenz

How to Be Human: Diary of an Autistic Girl by Florida Frenz

How to Be Human: Diary of an Autistic Girl by Florida Frenz, pen name, is the work of an an inspirational, brave and very smart autistic teen. How to Be Human is a non-fiction, 40 page book for kids in the age range of 7 -12 years  in grades 1 – 7  levels. Florida is both author and illustrator of this note book that chronicles her struggles of understanding her friends,  reading human body language,  and facial expressions. Florida explains her  inner struggles and provides insight into how people with autism think.

Florida wants the world to know what it is like to be autistic. Her drawings include some she drew during her therapy sessions. One of her therapists, who wrote the Afterword for the book, wrote, “She is a gifted artist and writer so using art seemed like an obvious tool to help her work through understanding what, to her, were foreign concepts. Each picture represents hours where we discussed or read about or role-played different scenarios. The pictures represent eight years of growth.”

April 2nd 2015 Florida Frenz Reveals She Is Georgia Lyon

The anonymous teen author behind “How to be Human: Diary of an Autistic Girl” is revealing her identity. Georgia Lyon bravely steps out of the shadows for the very first time. She is an amazing young woman with a beautiful spirit and a compelling story to share.

For the past year and a half, Georgia was known by the pen name “Florida Frenz” and wrote “How to be Human,” anonymously chronicling her experience growing up with autism — learning to read facial expressions, how to make friends, how to juggle everyday life as a teenager in high school. She wrote the book to help others gain a glimpse into the mind of a teen with autism through intimate prose and illustrations. Now a high school senior, Georgia is ready to unveil herself and share her story publicly.

What a way to celebrate National Autism Awareness Month this April.

What is being said about How to Be Human: Diary of an Autistic Girl

“This book is a terrific read for adolescents with ASD and Social Communication Disorders as well as for all types of caregivers (professionals and parents). On one hand, Florida’s enchanting descriptions and illustrations help us all to understand better the perspective of those born to social learning differences. On the other hand this book is filled with insight and practical strategies to encourage teachers, counselors and students how they can all work to help each other adapt one’s social thinking and related behaviors to get along in the world, what ever world they may live in! I love the sensitivity, artistry and ideas that flow from these pages.”
Michelle Garcia Winner
Founder of Social ThinkingR
Speech Language Pathologist, MA-CCC

An 8 page,  teacher guide is available on the Creston website for compassion/empathy curriculum and for modeling journal writing and print copies for major conferences. Great activities are suggested to be done before reading the book and to accompany the different sections of the book as they are read. An example of an activity follows:


Step 17: What Makes a Bad Friend
Overview and Activities:
Sometimes we can work so hard on making friends that can cause a false belief that any friend is
a good friend. Make a collage of traits that you would want in a friend and another of traits that
you would NOT want in a friend.

About How to Be Human: Diary of an Autistic Girl

Description of the Book

With powerful words and pictures Florida Frenz chronicles in her notebook her journey to figure out how to read facial expressions, how to make friends, and how to juggle all the social cues that make school feel like a complicated maze. Diagnosed with autism as a three-year-old, Florida is now an articulate 16-year-old whose explorations into how kids make friends, what popularity means, how to handle peer pressure will resonate with any pre-teen. For those wondering what it’s like inside an autistic child’s head, Florida’s book provides amazing insight and understanding. Reading how she learns how to be human makes us all feel a little less alien.

The Reason Why the Book Was Written

The author says, “I wrote this book because I wanted to let other people know that a diagnosis does not need to define you. I hope that I can help others who want to understand more about autism and those who are trying to navigate their own way through the social world.”

The Target Audience

I would like to believe that everyone would enjoy this book. After all, the issues of figuring out social situations, what’s cool and what isn’t, are common to all kids, just heightened for those of us with autism. But families who have a personal experience with autism as well as therapists may really enjoy reading  How to be Human.

Excerpts of How to Be Human: Diary of an Autistic Girl

To all the autistics out there, I know how frightening it is when you suddenly start crying but don’t know why.  It’s like getting carried away by a torrent of water.  Losing what little control you have can seem terrifying because the world revolves around principles you can’t grasp.

In class, students whisper and giggle. They shift in their seats, making their pants rustle and chairs squeak. The teacher pounds away on her laptop, turns the pages in a book, and clomps around the classroom.  And your ears aren’t the only sense being bombarded. Tiny fonts lead your eyes astray so you can never find the correct line to start reading. Perfumes clog your nose. Changes in clothing texture on your skin or an unexpected touch feels like a slimy eel dropped on you.Those yucky sensations don’t leave your body when you stop getting exposed to them, but instead echo through your nervous system, jarring every cell in your body. The more you’re exposed, the stronger the echoes get, and the less tolerant you are of new sensations that cause yet more unpleasant echoes. It becomes a perpetual trap of sensory overload.

For autistics like me, it’s our nature to be this way. There’s a difference in the physical structure of our brains and the way the neurons connect together. Autism is like a hardware problem, except you can’t just go to the computer store and pick up another brain. You must rely on the brain’s ability to form new connections, changing its structure to resemble that of a normal person’s. That’s no easy feat, and it only becomes harder as autistics grow older, and our brains lose plasticity.

The core of the problem is that an autistic brain doesn’t understand emotions. Our brains were built to understand concepts that can be broken down into logical pieces. Most of us understand math facts well because the steps used to get the answer are right or wrong. Emotions can sometimes be broken down rationally, but even then it’s hard to grasp their cause-and-effect relationship. For example, what makes people sad and how they react to that sadness, looking at the reaction and trying to guess what caused it. Normal people do complicated emotional calculus everyday without consciously realizing it.

Four pages of How to Be Human: Diary of an Autistic Girl

How to Be Human Diary of an Autistic Girl by Florida Frenz

 


 

How to Be Human Diary of an Autistic Girl by Florida Frenz

 


 

Florida Frenz, Author and Illustrator

Due to a glitch in the time-space continuum, Florida Frenz wound up on the wrong planet. On the planet she should have been on, everyone is autistic. When no work needs to get done, everyone spends their time flapping, doodling, and spinning. However, Earth has become a home to Florida, and she has discovered many Earthlings can be fun and nice. Florida especially loves Earthling kids, whose brains are very receptive to new ideas, and her friends, who like her, may be from other planets, but are adapting fabulously to their lives on Earth. She would also like to thank all of those who help her to remain incognito and support her right to act different when she chooses to.

 

“How to be Human: Diary of an Autistic Girl” Author Interview

Buy How to Be Human: Diary of an Autistic Girl Amazon.com  Amazon.ca

This post was written by Lorna
Lorna d’Entremont: Co-owner of SentioLife Solutions, Ltd. the company behind KidCompanions Chewelry (2007) and SentioCHEWS (2013), mother of three, grandma of 5 and wife. She is a retired teacher and special needs advocate. Throughout she has taught all levels from grade 2 to grade 9. Lorna loved teaching and enjoyed seeing the students progress in the school system. During her 30 year career she took a few years off to raise her three children.
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