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A remarkable memoir by a mother and her autistic daughter who’d long been unable to communicate—until a miraculous breakthrough revealed a young woman with a rich and creative interior life, a poet, who’d been trapped inside for more than two decades. “I have been buried under years of dust and now I have so much to say.” These were the first words twenty-five-year-old Emily A remarkable memoir by a mother and her autistic daughter who’d long been unable to communicate—until a miraculous breakthrough revealed a young woman with a rich and creative interior life, a poet, who’d been trapped inside for more than two decades. “I have been buried under years of dust and now I have so much to say.” These were the first words twenty-five-year-old Emily Grodin ever wrote. Born with nonverbal autism, Emily’s only means of communicating for a quarter of a century had been only one-word responses or physical gestures.  That Emily was intelligent had never been in question—from an early age she’d shown clear signs that she understood what was going on though she could not express herself. Her parents, Valerie and Tom, sought every therapy possible in the hope that Emily would one day be able to reveal herself. When this miraculous breakthrough occurred, Emily was finally able to give insight into the life, frustrations, and joys of a person with autism. She could tell her parents what her younger years had been like and reveal all the emotions and intelligence residing within her; she became their guide into the autistic experience. Told by Valerie, with insights and stories and poetry from Emily, I Have Been Buried Under Years of Dust highlights key moments of Emily’s childhood that led to her communication awakening—and how her ability rapidly accelerated after she wrote that first sentence. As Valerie tells her family’s story, she shares the knowledge she’s gained from working as a legal advocate for families affected by autism and other neurological disorders.  A story of unconditional love, faith in the face of difficulty, and the grace of perseverance and acceptance, I Have Been Buried Under Years of Dust is an evocative and affecting mother-daughter memoir of learning to see each other for who they are.


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A remarkable memoir by a mother and her autistic daughter who’d long been unable to communicate—until a miraculous breakthrough revealed a young woman with a rich and creative interior life, a poet, who’d been trapped inside for more than two decades. “I have been buried under years of dust and now I have so much to say.” These were the first words twenty-five-year-old Emily A remarkable memoir by a mother and her autistic daughter who’d long been unable to communicate—until a miraculous breakthrough revealed a young woman with a rich and creative interior life, a poet, who’d been trapped inside for more than two decades. “I have been buried under years of dust and now I have so much to say.” These were the first words twenty-five-year-old Emily Grodin ever wrote. Born with nonverbal autism, Emily’s only means of communicating for a quarter of a century had been only one-word responses or physical gestures.  That Emily was intelligent had never been in question—from an early age she’d shown clear signs that she understood what was going on though she could not express herself. Her parents, Valerie and Tom, sought every therapy possible in the hope that Emily would one day be able to reveal herself. When this miraculous breakthrough occurred, Emily was finally able to give insight into the life, frustrations, and joys of a person with autism. She could tell her parents what her younger years had been like and reveal all the emotions and intelligence residing within her; she became their guide into the autistic experience. Told by Valerie, with insights and stories and poetry from Emily, I Have Been Buried Under Years of Dust highlights key moments of Emily’s childhood that led to her communication awakening—and how her ability rapidly accelerated after she wrote that first sentence. As Valerie tells her family’s story, she shares the knowledge she’s gained from working as a legal advocate for families affected by autism and other neurological disorders.  A story of unconditional love, faith in the face of difficulty, and the grace of perseverance and acceptance, I Have Been Buried Under Years of Dust is an evocative and affecting mother-daughter memoir of learning to see each other for who they are.

30 review for I Have Been Buried Under Years of Dust: A Memoir of Autism and Hope

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nursebookie

    Imagine that your child finds her voice literally and figuratively after more than two decades of her life. What a breakthrough! This is a true story of a mother’s refusal to give up on her daughter with nonverbal autism. I am so moved reading this well written memoir as Valerie recounts her life as a mother of an autistic child, advocating for the rights of her neuro diverse daughter Emily, while navigating the complex and challenging medical and school system. More than a memoir, this book tau Imagine that your child finds her voice literally and figuratively after more than two decades of her life. What a breakthrough! This is a true story of a mother’s refusal to give up on her daughter with nonverbal autism. I am so moved reading this well written memoir as Valerie recounts her life as a mother of an autistic child, advocating for the rights of her neuro diverse daughter Emily, while navigating the complex and challenging medical and school system. More than a memoir, this book taught me a lot as a nurse about the diagnosis, the current research, and the controversial treatments and interventions for autism.⁣ ⁣ Within the chapters are italicized entries by Emily as she finds her voice through a technique called facilitated communication by typing on an iPad to express her thoughts. Her first words are the title of this book, and as her mother knew all along, Emily was smart and capable of so much more than what people give her credit for behind her diagnosis. Emily is not only succeeding extremely well in college here in Los Angeles, but is also an emerging poet whose writing is powerful, brilliant and heartfelt. ⁣

  2. 5 out of 5

    Charles

    As someone who is autistic and has autistic family, this book was awful to read. In short, it's a narcissistic mother -- an "autism mommy" trope personified -- who is hung up on making her daughter "normal." To be clear, Emily's portions were lovely and revealed her intelligent, compassionate voice. Emily has varied interests including travel, history, and law. I hope she goes far in life! Emily is a poet, has an instagram, and if she ever writes her own book I'll be eager to read it. That said, t As someone who is autistic and has autistic family, this book was awful to read. In short, it's a narcissistic mother -- an "autism mommy" trope personified -- who is hung up on making her daughter "normal." To be clear, Emily's portions were lovely and revealed her intelligent, compassionate voice. Emily has varied interests including travel, history, and law. I hope she goes far in life! Emily is a poet, has an instagram, and if she ever writes her own book I'll be eager to read it. That said, the one star is for Valerie's writing. As another reviewer mentioned, her lack of self-awareness and her focus on making Emily "normal" not only got in the way of Emily's development but actively held her back. Valerie was so focused on development of spoken language as a marker of Emily's success that she actually intentionally prevented Emily from using AAC or other communication methods during her earlier years. Let me say that again: Emily wanted to communicate via alternative methods and wasn't allowed... unless she used spoken word. Emily's "breakthrough" wasn't that she could suddenly type when she wasn't able to before. It's that Valerie finally LET her type. After decades of not listening to Emily. To Valerie, Emily is "unknowable" and a surprise. That's because Valerie isn't listening. In fact, Valerie says similar things about her husband who is presumably neurotypical (i.e., there's a chapter where she talks about her surprise that he does, in fact, also have emotions). Valerie's narcissistic traits shine through, and although she frames herself as a hero who sacrificed it all for her daughter, it's clear that her relationships with family, friends, school staff, and the community at large are fraught because Valerie is getting in the way time and time again. Valerie lies about Emily's condition because she's ashamed to reveal that her daughter is autistic. She forces Emily through ABA treatment and instead of stopping when Emily cries from frustration she leaves the room because she doesn't want to watch. She drags Emily into overwhelming situations and is shocked when Emily is, well, overwhelmed. Emily is openly blamed for Valerie's lack of friends. Valerie announces the world that Emily is the reason Valerie's dreams of having a second child were crushed. Emily deserved better. Please, if you care about the autistic community and want to hear about our experiences, know that there are better resources out there. Check out the Autistic Self Advocacy Network or the Autistic Women and Nonbinary Network. Check out books by and for the autistic community: Neurotribes (Steve Silberman), Aspergirls (Rudy Simone), Spectrum Women (Barb Cook and Michelle Garnett), Knowing Why (Elizabeth Bartmess), The Reason I Jump (Naoki Higashida), Uncomfortable Labels (Laura Kate Dale).

  3. 5 out of 5

    Linden

    This book is co-written by Emily, an autistic woman in her twenties, and her mother, Valerie, an attorney. Nonverbal and subject to meltdowns for most of her life, Emily started communicating on an iPad in her mid-twenties. I would have preferred it if the authors had provided section headings identifying the speaker as either Valerie and Emily. The book was thought-provoking--I wondered what would happen to an autistic individual whose parents weren't wealthy. Thanks to Edelweiss and the publis This book is co-written by Emily, an autistic woman in her twenties, and her mother, Valerie, an attorney. Nonverbal and subject to meltdowns for most of her life, Emily started communicating on an iPad in her mid-twenties. I would have preferred it if the authors had provided section headings identifying the speaker as either Valerie and Emily. The book was thought-provoking--I wondered what would happen to an autistic individual whose parents weren't wealthy. Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for this ARC.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    My reactions to this book, and to others' reactions to this book, are all over the place. - It was great to read the writing of a nonverbal autistic author. In addition to granting so much insight, it made me reflect on my own impressions of nonverbal people. I'm very grateful for this. -I also appreciate Valerie's insight and honesty. It's interesting to me to read some of the loathing toward her in reviews. I'm reading NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity concurrent My reactions to this book, and to others' reactions to this book, are all over the place. - It was great to read the writing of a nonverbal autistic author. In addition to granting so much insight, it made me reflect on my own impressions of nonverbal people. I'm very grateful for this. -I also appreciate Valerie's insight and honesty. It's interesting to me to read some of the loathing toward her in reviews. I'm reading NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity concurrently and the recent history of therapies for autistic people seems to have changed drastically during Emily's lifetime. My understanding is that Valerie was told by experts not to promote FC earlier. I thought she also talked about mistakes or regrets she had. At the same time, there is a lot of discussion of being "normal" and the desire for Emily not to have been the way she was, at least prior to FC. I can see how this can be divisive. - I found Emily's entries most interesting and would have liked to have learned about more of her reflections - there seemed to me to be gaps in discussions of her childhood. Maybe she will have a standalone memoir!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Maria

    “I have felt the storm within me. The storm of things unsaid. The crippling weight of thoughts Emotions Opinions That can’t quite make it to the surface. I have had to find other ways. Other ways to make them heard. Ways to let the world see that I am thinking, and breathing, and experiencing just as the rest. My mind is a constant whirlwind, pondering rapidly on everything, and nothing.”

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lyssa

    3.5 stars. Toward the end it's mentioned that Emily was fascinated with London because of hearing about it when she was five. If her memory serves so well, I would have loved to hear Emily's perceptions of her childhood in the earlier chapters. 3.5 stars. Toward the end it's mentioned that Emily was fascinated with London because of hearing about it when she was five. If her memory serves so well, I would have loved to hear Emily's perceptions of her childhood in the earlier chapters.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    This is the story of 2 articulate people, mother and daughter and the handicap that is the autism spectrum.Mother is an attorney who fights for the proper educational services for students who need them in order to thrive. Sadly, it often takes strong financial stability in order to afford advocacy in some circumstances, many perhaps. Many families are forced or feel forced to take what is offered them by school districts that are only trying to balance their budgets on students' futures,,,,,,,, This is the story of 2 articulate people, mother and daughter and the handicap that is the autism spectrum.Mother is an attorney who fights for the proper educational services for students who need them in order to thrive. Sadly, it often takes strong financial stability in order to afford advocacy in some circumstances, many perhaps. Many families are forced or feel forced to take what is offered them by school districts that are only trying to balance their budgets on students' futures,,,,,,,,,the easiest comment I can make of this widespread practice is that it is sad. Doubtlessly Valerie has improved the lives of many with her experience and knowledge. Back to the book, the story is gripping, daughter's insights are compelling, it is all clearly written and flows. It is a piece of advocacy addressed to those who do not understand the spectrum. That being said I must point out that Valerie's daughter, our co-author, is articulate and intelligent, and she is the compelling second voice in this book, second but not lesser.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Donovan

    I was conflicted as to my rating of this book. In terms of the writing itself, it was an engaging and engrossing read. In that sense, I would rate it at five stars, no question - especially when it comes to Emily's portions of the book. They were amazing. But as engaging as the book was, I have to admit that I found myself highly disliking Valerie. I'm reminded of the way I felt about Michael Schofield in his book "January First". In both cases you're reading a book written by a parent whose narc I was conflicted as to my rating of this book. In terms of the writing itself, it was an engaging and engrossing read. In that sense, I would rate it at five stars, no question - especially when it comes to Emily's portions of the book. They were amazing. But as engaging as the book was, I have to admit that I found myself highly disliking Valerie. I'm reminded of the way I felt about Michael Schofield in his book "January First". In both cases you're reading a book written by a parent whose narcissism shines through on every page. Valerie makes it sound as though she was the only one concerned about Emily's well-being, as though Emily didn't also have a father who wanted to do everything he could to help her. I got so very tired of reading about how Valerie had made a decision about Emily that Tom didn't initially support, only to have him tell her later that she was right and he should have listened to her all along. The way she talked about the behavioural therapists in the beginning of the book drove me crazy too. I understand that every parent thinks their child is brilliant and beautiful and unique, but these therapists aren't there to coddle children - they're there to work with the child. "We hated the constant collecting of data on Emily. The clinical ways the behaviourists worked with her made me feel as if Emily weren't a beautiful child, our precious daughter, but a horse to be broken." Look, I don't have children, and as I've said, I understand that all parents think their children are the most special children on earth. But those therapists that Valerie felt so free to disparage weren't there to dote on Emily. They were there to work with her, to try to help her, to help her make as much progress as was possible. And yes, of course they were going to document whatever progress she made. The "data collection" that Valerie dislikes so much? Essential to working with any children (hello, has she never heard of progress reports or report cards?) but, I would imagine, even more crucial when one is working with children with different abilities. She's not the "precious daughter" of these professionals; of course they're not going to treat her that way. It just seems to me that Valerie had no intention of working or cooperating with anyone whose sole intention wasn't to fawn all over Emily. I am glad I read this book, and am amazed by Emily's writing. But I wish that I had been able to hear more of her voice - and much less the voice of her insufferable, self-centred mother. I don't know how in the world her husband has managed to stay with her, because honestly, she seemed to take every opportunity she could to disparage him.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Patti K

    This memoir is co-written by Emily, autistic, and her mother Valerie Gilpeer. It is two sides to living with autism and caring for an autistic daughter from a small child to adulthood. A complete chaos of family life given Emily's turbulent emotional fits and meltdowns, screaming, no verbal skills with not much hope of ever being verbal. Finally, at age 25 Emily is instructed in Facilitated Speech on a computer with an instruction aide. She takes to it and is able to write prose and even poetry. Altho This memoir is co-written by Emily, autistic, and her mother Valerie Gilpeer. It is two sides to living with autism and caring for an autistic daughter from a small child to adulthood. A complete chaos of family life given Emily's turbulent emotional fits and meltdowns, screaming, no verbal skills with not much hope of ever being verbal. Finally, at age 25 Emily is instructed in Facilitated Speech on a computer with an instruction aide. She takes to it and is able to write prose and even poetry. Although always with her aide to assist her work. She had to hold on to Emily's shirt to ground her while she typed. A frustrating book to encounter and continue throughout the long years' story. Heartbreaking account of how this young woman struggled to find a way to communication. A lot of resources, including money, and ineffable patience and persistence and love was involved in this journey. Published in 2021.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Glenda Nelms

    Eye-opening, informative, heart-wrenching and beautiful memoir told by Valerie and her daughter Emily, who is autistic and nonverbal. The mother-daughter duo describes the challenges of living as and with an autistic person. The books takes you from Emily's beginning to where she is today...it's great seeing how Emily's life changed after she found her voice. It includes poems written by Emily. It's an bold and courageous book. People with autism deserved to be treated with love, respect and emp Eye-opening, informative, heart-wrenching and beautiful memoir told by Valerie and her daughter Emily, who is autistic and nonverbal. The mother-daughter duo describes the challenges of living as and with an autistic person. The books takes you from Emily's beginning to where she is today...it's great seeing how Emily's life changed after she found her voice. It includes poems written by Emily. It's an bold and courageous book. People with autism deserved to be treated with love, respect and empathy. I recommend this book with April being Autism Acceptance month.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Davienne

    No just no. Once again this is another ‘ohh no look at me I’m so sad but also so strong because I have an autistic child’ book.... As someone who has been diagnosed with autism I’m so sick of seeing books/media like this.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Bookreporter.com Biography & Memoir

    In this remarkable memoir, Emily Grodin, who has been autistic from birth, teams up with her mother, Valerie Gilpeer, to talk about her childhood and her family’s attempts to help her become a responsible individual living in society. They articulate all the ways in which Emily’s specialness has led to an uncannily perceptive and strong poetic voice, and how others like her can find hope in her story and resources that will help our loved ones as much as they helped her. The world is changing an In this remarkable memoir, Emily Grodin, who has been autistic from birth, teams up with her mother, Valerie Gilpeer, to talk about her childhood and her family’s attempts to help her become a responsible individual living in society. They articulate all the ways in which Emily’s specialness has led to an uncannily perceptive and strong poetic voice, and how others like her can find hope in her story and resources that will help our loved ones as much as they helped her. The world is changing and for the better --- frustratingly slowly but surely. April is Autism Awareness Month, which is very special in my home. With a young adult child on the autism spectrum, I am constantly learning about all the signs I missed as a mother uneducated in autism. I thought that if anything was wrong, it would show up scholastically and the public school system would help me and my child acknowledge his issues and find him the appropriate help. None of that happened. And lately, with the more public pushback against ABA, which is a conversion therapy for autistic individuals, it is important that the work of ASAN (the service that helps people find resources to live with their diagnosis and not be ashamed of it) be celebrated and shared with anyone who needs it. "I have been buried under years of dust and now I have so much to say" are the first words that Emily related to her mother when she began to move away from expressing herself with only sounds and physical movements and instead used language as a means to convey her innermost thoughts and her most outward needs and desires. A two steps forward, eight steps back lifestyle was frustrating, and Valerie uses her memories and Emily’s poetic renderings to help us understand the maze that they have meandered through for so long and the numerous doctors and uneducated caregivers who were ready to write Emily off. Valerie knew that her daughter had a spark, a wit and so much to share that couldn’t be done the neurotypical way, and she never stopped looking for help that would lead Emily to a full, feeling, independent life. Emily’s triumphant move into being able to work as a poet and tell her story in her own words is hard won. Valerie, an attorney, changed her practice in order to be a legal consultant to families with loved ones who are autistic. Their struggle is very real, their love for each other is unending, and their allyship to other families who are going through the difficulty of not being seen, heard and celebrated is resounding. I HAVE BEEN BURIED UNDER YEARS OF DUST is an important landmark of a book. For autistic people and their caretakers, loved ones and other advocates, it is a hopeful story of what happens when you don’t give up and provide love and assistance to all the weary pilgrims on such a difficult road. This beautifully written book will bring you to tears on many occasions. The stories are told by both Emily and Valerie, and getting both perspectives gives us a well-rounded look at the daily and lifetime issues that this family faced (as do millions of others around the world). Emily’s poetry is a gorgeous and perceptive addition to an already valuable volume. I cannot stress enough how important and wondrous this book is and how much Emily’s story will help families all over the world deal with the benchmarks in front of them. It is a story of hope. It is a story of understanding. It is a straight and true story of a young woman’s journey to selfhood and her parents’ undying love and belief in her. Everyone should be lucky enough to have someone like Valerie and Emily in their lives. This Autism Awareness Month, step away from the corporate chatter of the attempt to “cure” people who live with this disorder and instead listen to their stories and learn from them. As we hopefully move into the Age of Aquarius, may we all discover the best parts of ourselves and give of ourselves to those who need our friendship and support. We all may just learn something. Brava, Emily! Brava, Valerie! I HAVE BEEN BURIED UNDER YEARS OF DUST is a celebration of the best possible kind. As Dr. Edlyn Peña of the Autism and Communication Center at California Lutheran University writes, “The world needs to hear from more autism advocates like Emily who challenge our misguided assumptions about autism.” May this be the first of many such hopeful works. Reviewed by Jana Siciliano

  13. 4 out of 5

    Hope

    #ihavebeenburiedunderyearsofdust by @emilyfaithgrodin and @valeriegilpeer Is a memoir of the most amazing & unique kind! Hear Emily's words that she has finally been able to express, although still being non-verbal due to autism, she has not let it define her. She has found a way through a sometimes controversial "facilitated communication" which has been able to support her to type out her most inner thoughts and feelings. Her mother Valerie gives her experiences as the parent and advocate for #ihavebeenburiedunderyearsofdust by @emilyfaithgrodin and @valeriegilpeer Is a memoir of the most amazing & unique kind! Hear Emily's words that she has finally been able to express, although still being non-verbal due to autism, she has not let it define her. She has found a way through a sometimes controversial "facilitated communication" which has been able to support her to type out her most inner thoughts and feelings. Her mother Valerie gives her experiences as the parent and advocate for her daughter, and the struggles they went through as a family trying to communicate, modify behaviors, educate, and deal with the community of people ignorant to autism's many faceted types and challenges. What makes this soooo especially poignant is getting to hear Emily's POV and when that finally happened, being able to communicate her needs and wants after over 25 years of silence, frustration and not so silent meltdowns, she finally has an outlet for her voice - typing. It turns out that Emily is a wonderul writer helping to give a voice to all autistic people by explaining what it feels like to be inside of a body that wont cooperate with you, a brain that somehow had these complex thoughts, but cannot get them out. I can't even imagine!!! She also speaks of the hurt she feels from overheard perceptions of people who think being autistic makes you deficient of intelligence, feelings, and hearing, which is just not true. She and her mother also stress the need for people to understand that no two autistic people are the same, but to just remember, there is a person inside there with feelings and thoughts, and we as a community need to better understand and be inclusive and be kind to them. Its a wonderul short read. I highly recommend everyone read it. Autism has become more and more prevalent throughout the years since Emily was a child. Most of us know someone with an autistic child. This memoir will give you great insights into what the parents, and those with autism, go through just trying to live their everyday lives. Best memoir Ive ever read. Give it a read!!!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Cristina

    *Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an egalley ARC out in April 2021. The description of this story interested me right away. The journey Emily and her family went on and are still going through of navigating nonverbal autism was very compelling, and I am thankful for the opportunity to read it. This is a memoir co-written by Emily’s mother and Emily who is nonverbal autistic. The main narrative is told by her mother, with insight and poetry throughout by Emily. Emily’s poetry and writin *Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an egalley ARC out in April 2021. The description of this story interested me right away. The journey Emily and her family went on and are still going through of navigating nonverbal autism was very compelling, and I am thankful for the opportunity to read it. This is a memoir co-written by Emily’s mother and Emily who is nonverbal autistic. The main narrative is told by her mother, with insight and poetry throughout by Emily. Emily’s poetry and writing was definitely was the highlight for me. The overall story paints a picture of Emily’s journey of finding her voice and sharing her experience of the world. Through most of her childhood she is not able to communicate beyond simple answers to questions, though her parents believe there is more going on inside her than she can communicate. After trying many different therapies, through FC she has a breakthrough one day and Emily writes full sentences describing her thoughts and feelings for the first time. I know there is a saying in the autistic community that says something like when you have met one autistic person you have met one autistic person. Each person’s experience with autism is unique. This is how I think of Emily’s story. It is not meant to say “follow this path” and other autistic people can be like me. Rather it tells a story that advocates for more options beyond speech therapy for nonverbal autistic children. FC (Facilitated Communication) has been seen as illegitimate form of communication for autistic people, but Emily and her mother want to share their positive experience with it and advocate for all forms of AAC (Augmentative & Alternative Communication) to be a recognized option for nonverbal autistic people. Emily’s poetry and insight to what it is like to navigate the world as autistic along with her mother’s narrative has given me a lot to think about as a teacher, mother, and human in this world we all share.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    A very interesting book about one family’s experience with autism. Valerie and Tom have their only child, daughter Emily, in 1991. Valerie tells the story of Emily’s birth and diagnosis, development and growth, her schooling, medical interventions, therapies - with seeming authenticity and feeling. The difficulties are not minimized, and they would break many families. In 2016, the largely non-verbal Emily unexpectedly responds to facilitated communication (FC), revealing herself to be a young w A very interesting book about one family’s experience with autism. Valerie and Tom have their only child, daughter Emily, in 1991. Valerie tells the story of Emily’s birth and diagnosis, development and growth, her schooling, medical interventions, therapies - with seeming authenticity and feeling. The difficulties are not minimized, and they would break many families. In 2016, the largely non-verbal Emily unexpectedly responds to facilitated communication (FC), revealing herself to be a young woman of stunning intelligence, who has literally watched her world from the inside with no way of sharing thoughts or concerns. No way other than screaming tantrums, rocking, hitting herself repeatedly in the face, and physically injuring her caregivers, among many other typical, observable behaviors of the autistic. Emily contributes to many of the chapters and it’s fascinating to gain her insight into what prompted X tantrum or Y biting incident. Valerie is candid about the controversies surrounding FC. She admits she and Tom wondered if such a radical change in Emily could possibly be legitimate. Yet it appears to be so. I guess my reaction to the book is more wistful than joyous. I think it’s phenomenal for Emily and her family. I wonder what percentage of autistic kids experience the same? And I wonder how many would lead lives more fulfilling and rich if all kids had access to the opportunities Emily’s parents so determinedly provided. I applaud their determination to leave no stone unturned in pursuing the best for Emily. I wish we had a health care system and a social network in the US that insisted on providing the same level of opportunity for all children.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I feel like I'm in a real pickle about this novel. On the one hand, this book was very informative. Almost everything in here was accessible to a person who might have no clue what autism is, or what treatments are available. On the other hand, it is so clear how narcissistic and damaging this book can be. If your child is autistic and you deny her the opportunity to begin communication in alternate ways because you're desperate to have your child communicate verbally, you are cruel. Emily could I feel like I'm in a real pickle about this novel. On the one hand, this book was very informative. Almost everything in here was accessible to a person who might have no clue what autism is, or what treatments are available. On the other hand, it is so clear how narcissistic and damaging this book can be. If your child is autistic and you deny her the opportunity to begin communication in alternate ways because you're desperate to have your child communicate verbally, you are cruel. Emily could have begun using FC YEARS before she did. I believe it was close to a decade. That's a long time of no communication. All because Valerie was so focused on getting her to speak. It agonizes me. To me this is just as bad as families that are in denial about their children being deaf. Don't even get me started about Valerie's thoughts on finding out Emily was autistic. I don't know how Emily grew up in a clearly toxic environment with Valerie as her mother. The main point that I would like to come across from this novel is that verbal communication is not the only form of communication. Emily's writing was fantastic and I wish Valerie had been left out of this novel altogether. Emily has a bright future if she chooses to write her own novels and I wish her nothing but success in her endeavors in that regard. Valerie should never write a novel again :)

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    No. I found this book to be wildly unhelpful. Valerie, as many have noted, centers her struggles (and literally endless resources) with her daughter, as she strives to gain a sense of "normalcy" with her autism. I struggle so much in my reflection of this book as an educator, because I know how challenging it can be as a teacher with limited resources, supports, money, tech, etc. when working in classrooms. I don't doubt her stories or experiences, I just wish that instead of harping on the educ No. I found this book to be wildly unhelpful. Valerie, as many have noted, centers her struggles (and literally endless resources) with her daughter, as she strives to gain a sense of "normalcy" with her autism. I struggle so much in my reflection of this book as an educator, because I know how challenging it can be as a teacher with limited resources, supports, money, tech, etc. when working in classrooms. I don't doubt her stories or experiences, I just wish that instead of harping on the education system, she perhaps considered that there are actually people out there that solely depend on school as a support system, and cannot just move their students and children to new therapists, settings, new FC communicators, and the like. I really breezed through the last chapter because I wasn't super interested in reading about their SECOND trip to Europe and how it compared to the first one. This whole book absolutely reeked of privilege, No thank you. Emily is a very talented writer and poet, and I hope that she continues to find independence. I would also really love to read a book written wholly by Emily. I was so sad to read that mom, even up until the very end of the book, saw her verbal communication as the ultimate marker of success. In contrast, I really love the book "How Can I Talk If My Lips Don't Move" by Tito Mukhopadhyay.

  18. 5 out of 5

    TK

    This is a great book. It's a memoir written by a mother (Valerie) and her non-verbal autistic daughter (Emily) about their journey to find a way for Emily to communicate without speaking. This is an inspiring story of two parents continuous advocacy for their daughter, so that she could be integrated into regular schools and regular classrooms, and so that she could receive the best therapies and support possible. Valerie becomes so deeply expert at this advocacy that she becomes a lawyer for ot This is a great book. It's a memoir written by a mother (Valerie) and her non-verbal autistic daughter (Emily) about their journey to find a way for Emily to communicate without speaking. This is an inspiring story of two parents continuous advocacy for their daughter, so that she could be integrated into regular schools and regular classrooms, and so that she could receive the best therapies and support possible. Valerie becomes so deeply expert at this advocacy that she becomes a lawyer for other parents who have their own fights to win for their children. Both Valerie and Emily repeatedly make the point that her inability to communicate like the rest of us in no way reflects her intelligence, emotions, preferences, or personality as they seek to educated those around them (and their readers) about differently abled people. I found this story to be fascinating, inspiring, unapologetic and mesmerizing. It includes passages written by Emily, who when she was 25 learns to type her words using a method called Facilitated Communication. There is also a selection of her poems at the end of the book. I think it's totally cool that Emily's perspectives are included here, and seeing the world through her eyes is to me the most winning thing about this memoir.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Peacejanz

    This is an account of an amazing young woman: She is autistic and did not speak for twenty years or more. She made sounds, she was smart, could copy her parents or a teacher to complete tasks but did not speak. Her parents are attorneys - after many years of fighting for her daughter legally, her mother has now devoted herself to cases helping autistic children and their parents. The mother directs the book and the life of the family. The parents hired so many tutors and companions, tried so man This is an account of an amazing young woman: She is autistic and did not speak for twenty years or more. She made sounds, she was smart, could copy her parents or a teacher to complete tasks but did not speak. Her parents are attorneys - after many years of fighting for her daughter legally, her mother has now devoted herself to cases helping autistic children and their parents. The mother directs the book and the life of the family. The parents hired so many tutors and companions, tried so many different schools because they knew she was smart. She just was not able to get her thoughts into words to express herself. A breakthrough occurred when an aide helped her type her thoughts into actual words. Eventually, they got a computer that would project the typed words into Emily's voice. This is not an uplifting book, despite the fact that the young woman learned to express herself. The cost to the parents, the family, the despair that Emily and her mother felt is overwhelming. I could never do what her mother did. Even though I know parents have an amazing capacity to help their children, this mother gave her all and finally has a verbal daughter. These are real people and I wish them only the best.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Thank you to Goodreads and HarperCollins for the gifted advanced copy of I Have Been Buried Under Years of Dust! As someone with an autistic nephew, I have been interested in reading about other people’s experiences with the condition ever since his diagnosis. To be honest, I had never really heard or learned about it until then. But now I’ve read several fiction and nonfiction works alike about people and characters with autism, and I love their stories. Everyone is unique, with their own abilit Thank you to Goodreads and HarperCollins for the gifted advanced copy of I Have Been Buried Under Years of Dust! As someone with an autistic nephew, I have been interested in reading about other people’s experiences with the condition ever since his diagnosis. To be honest, I had never really heard or learned about it until then. But now I’ve read several fiction and nonfiction works alike about people and characters with autism, and I love their stories. Everyone is unique, with their own abilities and struggles, just like neurotypical people. It goes to show you that you can’t lump all autistic people into a category. I Have Been Buried Under Years of Dust tells the story of one young woman with autism and her and her family’s journey to discovering a form of communication that works for her. Emily was born in 1991, a time when autism was far less prevalent of a diagnosis and topic of discussion. It was absolutely heartbreaking to read about her parents struggles to come to terms with their daughter’s autism and then fight against all odds to get her the education and opportunities she deserved. But Emily’s story is ultimately a happy one filled with hope, and she and her mother tell it in a beautiful way. This story is highly recommended for anyone who wants to learn about one out of many families’ experiences with autism and how it dramatically affected their lives.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Elana K.

    As someone who’s had the pleasure of working with several nonverbal teens, some of whom have autism, I was very intrigued by the premise of this book. It can be challenging to access or understand the interiority of nonverbal people, so I was thrilled to find a book partially written by a nonverbal woman with autism, Emily Grodin. That being said, the vast majority of this book is dominated by Valerie Gilpeer, Emily’s mother. This is not necessarily a bad thing; I enjoyed Valerie’s writing and l As someone who’s had the pleasure of working with several nonverbal teens, some of whom have autism, I was very intrigued by the premise of this book. It can be challenging to access or understand the interiority of nonverbal people, so I was thrilled to find a book partially written by a nonverbal woman with autism, Emily Grodin. That being said, the vast majority of this book is dominated by Valerie Gilpeer, Emily’s mother. This is not necessarily a bad thing; I enjoyed Valerie’s writing and learning about the challenges she faced while parenting and fiercely advocating for her child with autism. Emily’s lyrical and rich writing was a highlight, and I always found myself wishing the short snippets of her perspective were longer, although I understand that typing is much more labor intensive for her than for her mother. All in all I think this is a valuable book but didn’t live up to all it could be. I’ll definitely keep my eye out for Emily’s future work.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen Gray

    This is a beautiful thoughtful memoir told by both Valerie and her daughter Emily, who is nonverbal and autistic. While this moves between the two and back in forth in time to tell their story, it is Emily's voice which resonates. Her parents, Valerie and Tom, were committed to do everything for Emily but until she was 25, when she learned to type and use a communication device, they were unable to understand her thoughts and the reasons why she would become distressed. Emily's explanation of he This is a beautiful thoughtful memoir told by both Valerie and her daughter Emily, who is nonverbal and autistic. While this moves between the two and back in forth in time to tell their story, it is Emily's voice which resonates. Her parents, Valerie and Tom, were committed to do everything for Emily but until she was 25, when she learned to type and use a communication device, they were unable to understand her thoughts and the reasons why she would become distressed. Emily's explanation of her stims was especially enlightening. Memoirs are always hard to review because it feels as though one is commenting on the author's life but that's not the case here. If only Emily had been able to express herself earlier. Thanks to Edelweiss for the ARC. Thank you as well to this family for detailing their lives in such a bold and compassionate way.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Chanda Spaulding

    I won the ebook version of this story through a good reads giveaway. This book is about a family whose daughter has autism. The mother tells of the constant struggles that occurred and how she fiercely advocated for her non-verbal autistic daughter. Years go by and the family experiences lots of heart ache as well as joy. Emily (the daughter) learns how to communicate through typing and a whole new world opens up for the family. I enjoyed reading the story through both the mother and daughters e I won the ebook version of this story through a good reads giveaway. This book is about a family whose daughter has autism. The mother tells of the constant struggles that occurred and how she fiercely advocated for her non-verbal autistic daughter. Years go by and the family experiences lots of heart ache as well as joy. Emily (the daughter) learns how to communicate through typing and a whole new world opens up for the family. I enjoyed reading the story through both the mother and daughters eyes. It was a real eye opener to the fact that our society is often not very accepting or accommodating to someone with disabilities. It was also nice to read about the kindness and love shown to Emily and her parents, there are still good people out there! The end of the book also included a short collection of poems that were written by Emily.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    I loved this book on so many levels and I will probably reread it many times in the future. As the mother of a nonverbal, autistic daughter, this book was the first I've ever read that described a girl very close to my own. Every autistic person is different but this book was exciting for me because no other book seemed to describe my daughter. The mother in this book describes so many feelings I can relate to which would have made this a 5 star for me on that alone. On top of that though, there I loved this book on so many levels and I will probably reread it many times in the future. As the mother of a nonverbal, autistic daughter, this book was the first I've ever read that described a girl very close to my own. Every autistic person is different but this book was exciting for me because no other book seemed to describe my daughter. The mother in this book describes so many feelings I can relate to which would have made this a 5 star for me on that alone. On top of that though, there are insights from the daughter in this book! It was so vital to hear how she felt with certain therapies she did and how other people made her feel. This book helped me shift how I want to parent my daughter with a bigger awareness of her view. I'm under no illusion that our journey will be the same as the authors of this book, but they're story can give hope to others.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    First, I thought this book would be written only from Emily's perspective; instead it's a memoir from her mom's point of view with small bits of Emily's own words. That was a bummer to realize, because I was really excited to read Emily's story. Nonetheless, once I understood how the book would read, it was a fascinating and enlightening story of Emily's life and her mother's relentless pursuit to provide her with the best life. Being born the same year as Emily and living in a nearby area, it wa First, I thought this book would be written only from Emily's perspective; instead it's a memoir from her mom's point of view with small bits of Emily's own words. That was a bummer to realize, because I was really excited to read Emily's story. Nonetheless, once I understood how the book would read, it was a fascinating and enlightening story of Emily's life and her mother's relentless pursuit to provide her with the best life. Being born the same year as Emily and living in a nearby area, it was interesting and often humbling to think back where I was in my own life as she experienced various troubles and successes. I admire Emily's drive to pursue independence and advocate for others with autism who can't speak up for themselves. She's truly an inspiration and was blessed with parents who loved her unconditionally. What a great read!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Cindy Burnett

    Emily Grodin was diagnosed with non-verbal autism as child and did not communicate until she was 25 when she typed the following phrase: “I have been buried under years of dust and now I have so much to say.” Emily’s mother, Valerie Gilpeer, writes about Emily’s early years and this extraordinary breakthrough in I Have Been Buried Under Years of Dust: A Memoir of Autism and Hope, which incorporates poetry and stories told from Emily’s perspective about their lives together. A story of unconditio Emily Grodin was diagnosed with non-verbal autism as child and did not communicate until she was 25 when she typed the following phrase: “I have been buried under years of dust and now I have so much to say.” Emily’s mother, Valerie Gilpeer, writes about Emily’s early years and this extraordinary breakthrough in I Have Been Buried Under Years of Dust: A Memoir of Autism and Hope, which incorporates poetry and stories told from Emily’s perspective about their lives together. A story of unconditional love and faith in the face of difficulty, this powerful mother-daughter story highlights the importance of acceptance and perseverance. This one is a tear jerker. Want to hear more about some great new reads? Listen to my podcast here: https://www.thoughtsfromapage.com. For more book reviews and book conversation, check out my Instagram account: https://www.instagram.com/thoughtsfro....

  27. 5 out of 5

    Irene Tanzman

    This is a memoir which describes the experience of an upper middle class/wealthy mother with a daughter with severe autism. Through facilitated communication (FC), the daughter, Emily, expresses her thoughts in the memoir. FC has not been proven to work, but the mom, Valerie, addresses this issue in the book. In an interview in The Forward, Valerie explained that if a reader is skeptical of FC, just watch Emily in the process. I combed YouTube to find this, but I could not. Even so, the book has This is a memoir which describes the experience of an upper middle class/wealthy mother with a daughter with severe autism. Through facilitated communication (FC), the daughter, Emily, expresses her thoughts in the memoir. FC has not been proven to work, but the mom, Valerie, addresses this issue in the book. In an interview in The Forward, Valerie explained that if a reader is skeptical of FC, just watch Emily in the process. I combed YouTube to find this, but I could not. Even so, the book has value because it documents Valerie's struggle in finding help for her daughter. While I disagree with some of Valerie's decisions, I identify with her experiences, and I believe she has written an important book. I recommend that readers consider taking this book out of the public library.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mari

    I have given this book the three stars: the average 5 for Emily and 0 for her mom. I, too, felt that she was constantly pushing for her daughter to be “normal”. That must have agonizing for Emily to have to participate in those activities. The earliest part of her life was a push to get her in to a “normal” kindergarten....that’s tough for me to even read about. Also the emphasis on how successful she was with the job and life in Beverly Hills. They could afford the luxury of continuing to look f I have given this book the three stars: the average 5 for Emily and 0 for her mom. I, too, felt that she was constantly pushing for her daughter to be “normal”. That must have agonizing for Emily to have to participate in those activities. The earliest part of her life was a push to get her in to a “normal” kindergarten....that’s tough for me to even read about. Also the emphasis on how successful she was with the job and life in Beverly Hills. They could afford the luxury of continuing to look for the best support. What about the rest of the parents who are doing the best they can with limited resources? And the assumption that none of the consultants were not quite good enough to help her precious daughter? And that she always knew best? Overall, a frustrating book.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    A beautiful & true story written by a young autistic, nonverbal woman and her mother, who share their journey through recalled memories from mother Valerie, and insight, experiences and poems from daughter Emily. Valerie shares her experiences as a parent navigating the world of autism and everything that comes with it, with excerpts from Emily that offer insight and perspective. This book takes you through parts of Emily's life from the very beginning to where she is today... and it's amazing t A beautiful & true story written by a young autistic, nonverbal woman and her mother, who share their journey through recalled memories from mother Valerie, and insight, experiences and poems from daughter Emily. Valerie shares her experiences as a parent navigating the world of autism and everything that comes with it, with excerpts from Emily that offer insight and perspective. This book takes you through parts of Emily's life from the very beginning to where she is today... and it's amazing to see how her life has changed since she found her voice! It's hard to put down once you begin!! Highly recommend

  30. 4 out of 5

    Robin Bonne

    I think this book was a missed opportunity for Emily to have told her own story. Emily is a truly interesting person and the small parts of this book written by Emily were by far the best sections of this book. I would have enjoyed this book if Emily had told her own story. The marketing for this book was misleading; I thought I was getting Emily’s story. It broke my heart that the mother was so focused on forcing her daughter to be “normal” that she missed the entire point of having a child. Th I think this book was a missed opportunity for Emily to have told her own story. Emily is a truly interesting person and the small parts of this book written by Emily were by far the best sections of this book. I would have enjoyed this book if Emily had told her own story. The marketing for this book was misleading; I thought I was getting Emily’s story. It broke my heart that the mother was so focused on forcing her daughter to be “normal” that she missed the entire point of having a child. The author is rich, privileged, and able-bodied, so I think that plays a big part in her lack of self-awareness.

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