Outside Looking In
Catalyst Publishers (2020)
Reviewed by Rachel Dehning for Reader Views (2/21)
“Outside Looking In: High-Functioning Autism from One Mother’s Perspective” by Vivian M. Lumbard is a collection of stories of the Lumbard family and their experiences so far with autism. Originally written as a memoir for her children to enjoy, Vivian decided to expand the market and make her family’s thoughts, feelings, and situations accessible to the public. With whole-hearted intentions, she wishes to be a resource to other individuals who are surrounded by autism in some way.
“Outside Looking In” includes twenty-one chapters that cover a variety of topics related to Vivian’s family and their journey of understanding and living with autism. The chapters begin with Vivian’s premonition of children, the early years of her twins, their middle school/high school years, and their current years in high school. In between these sections lies their reactions to finding out about autism, trying to learn the best ways to raise autistic children, and working hard to advocate.
The recollections are heartfelt and memorable; even for parents of neurotypical children, there are things to be learned from Vivian’s research and experiences. There were many things that I wasn’t aware of when it comes to autism; she certainly brought it strong with not just autism awareness, but also understanding! I appreciated the explanation of autistic symptoms and I found the stories quick and to the point. The way that I read the book made it seem very much like an organized insertion of stories, but each one had a purpose for understanding and education. The stories aren’t merely educational, some of them are comical and relatable.
I like how Vivian kept herself in the book. I internalized these “snapshots” of their history to literal snapshots in a photo album, and many times the mom is left out because she’s the one taking the pictures. In “Outside Looking In”, Vivian made it clear where she was in the family dynamics and her role as a mother, wife, and individual survivor of each day. This insertion will make it easier for April as a woman to make herself known to those closest to her and around herself. For readers who have any connection with autism, this will be a great book to check out. As a bonus, there are additional resources included in the back to facilitate additional learning.