Why a Heroine with Borderline Autism?

abnormal results

Powerful. Riveting. And the main character has autism. My author friend Kimberly Rae has just released a new book entitled Abnormal Results. As the parent of autistic child, I am so impressed by how accurately Kimberly portrays the world of autism. I fell in love with the main character Victoria and found myself cheering her on as she coped with the many challenges she encountered through her autistic-like qualities. Everything was so familiar to what our family has encountered. This book opens the door to the world of autism and gives a hopeful glimpse into those hearts of those who struggle with it. Parents of autistic children and others impacted by autism would benefit greatly from reading Abnormal Results. I am certain anyone who reads it would discover as I did that “abnormal” means the Lord is doing something way beyond what we could ever imagine!

I asked Kimberly to write a guest blog post so you could learn more about her book. Check it out:

Why a Heroine with Borderline Autism?

It sounds strange when an author says one of their characters took on a life of their own, but that’s exactly what happened with Victoria Dane in my new Young Adult novel, Abnormal Results. Not only did she surprise me as a person, she completely took over the story, so much so that I ended up writing the entire book from her perspective.

Victoria is borderline autistic. Autism was not in my plan for Abnormal Results. Originally, the story was meant to be about four really close friends, and how the friendships changed when one of them got cancer. I got this idea for the cover of four ducks in a row with one of the ducks being knocked over. Though readers let me know the cover idea was too juvenile for a teen book, the ducks in a row stuck with me and I decided I wanted to incorporate the actual ducks, not just the concept, into the story.

ducks in a row

Suddenly Victoria, the closest friend of the boy who gets leukemia, took over. They were her ducks, and they represented her friendships and even her world. She kept them in a perfect line on her windowsill, and as long as they stayed exactly where they should be, she felt safe.

The prevalence of autism in U.S. children increased by 119.4% from 2000 to 2010. (CDC, 2014) Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability (CDC, 2008), and that’s just referring to those officially diagnosed. What about all the kids who aren’t official, but have many of the same needs and struggles?

And what happens when those children become teenagers? I wanted to imagine how the regular angst of teenage life, of relationships changing and people changing, would be to a kid with special needs.

Again, Victoria surprised me. She feels different, “abnormal” as she likes to say, and clings to her few few friends who make her feel accepted and safe. When Chad, her best friend, gets cancer, and then the other two of the four drift away, Victoria feels alone. But a teacher has been driving home the point that “The right choice is not always the safe one,” and Victoria takes it to heart. She decides to reach out to another kid the same way Chad once reached out to her. In doing so she starts a chain reaction and learns that being abnormal is a lot more normal than she ever thought. She finds that all of the kids around her have something about them that they feel is different or unacceptable. She starts facing her own fears and finding she is stronger than she ever knew.

The book was meant to be about cancer, but it has become a larger message: that life sometimes hits you with hard things (cancer, autism, school violence) but what matters is how you face it and whether or not you overcome.

I’m glad Victoria took over my book. I wish I’d known her in high school when I was insecure! I hope teen readers will find her a fun new friend, who might just help them accept themselves more, to be proud of who they are, and to brave doing more than they think they can.

 

Excerpt from Abnormal Results:

CHAPTER three

 

I haven’t been entirely honest with you about the ducks, or my friends, or me for that matter. The truth is I’m not fifteen. I forget sometimes and really think I am, until someone asks why I’m the only one in my class with a driver’s license. I’m not supposed to be in the same grade as the other dorks. And I’m not what most people would call normal.

After my first year of kindergarten, some people decided I needed testing. I remember hearing whispered words, technical terms like Autism and Asperger’s , but in the end the important people diagnosed that I didn’t quite have either. I just really, really liked things to be in order.

My need for structure and routine was labeled as “significant” by the experts, who told my parents first grade would be too much for me and I’d be better off going through kindergarten a second time. Who fails kindergarten? They said I was “developmentally challenged” and it would help me to learn how to adapt to free play and other things that were hard for me because they weren’t structured. I don’t remember having a hard time during free play, but it seems the experts did not think that my arranging all the blocks in perfect lines according to color and shape was healthy.

I need things to be in order. Like ducks in a row. We joke in our family about mom always asking that when we leave the house, but I know it is our secret code, just between her and me. She’s asking if everything is in order. If I’m okay, and things are as they should be, so we can leave the house without me…I don’t know, panicking I guess. She says when I was little if I was putting my toys in perfect rows and we had to leave the house before I’d finished, I would start screaming.

I don’t scream when things aren’t orderly anymore. Not on the outside anyway. That’s almost entirely due to Mom’s unending patience, and my friends, the dorks. That second year in kindergarten, Chad and Dan and Alecia befriended me and stuck with me that entire year. They showed me how to play with the other kids instead of sitting at my desk arranging pencils through recess. They taught me how to act normal enough that I didn’t scare my classmates away.

Chad would practice phrases with me for hours, having me repeat them with the right intonation so I would sound warm and friendly.

“Good morning. How are you?”

“I’m fine. How are you?”

“See you later.”

“Have a nice day.”

Dan taught me to throw and catch a ball. And his laugh was so contagious, I learned to laugh just from being around him.

Alecia brushed and braided my hair, kept my shoes tied, and kept me close to her when other girls came around. She knew how to talk and make friends, and when I was with her, people accepted me.

With them, I was safe. The dorks didn’t care that I was a year behind. Over time I stopped caring too. I wanted it to stay that way forever.

Thinking of things changing makes me scream on the inside.

 

 

You can order autographed copies (signed to the kids you love!) at

http://www.kimberlyrae.com/abnormal-results-ya-fiction/

 

 

Kimberly Rae lived in Bangladesh, Uganda, Kosovo and Indonesia before Addison’s Disease brought her permanently back to the U.S. Rae has been published over 300 times and has work in 5 languages. Her suspense/romance novels on international human trafficking (Stolen Woman, Stolen Child, and Stolen Future) are all Amazon bestsellers. Find out more or order autographed books at www.kimberlyrae.com.

 

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