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What to Read for Disability Awareness Month


April is disability awareness month, and Sonoma State University's Disability Services for Students is sponsoring several events focusing on different forms of disability and how they impact individuals and the community. If you're looking to expand your awareness this month, we've also compiled a list of reading materials at the University Library by and about individuals with disabilities: Thinking in Pictures: And Other Reports from My Life with Autism by Temple Grandin is an account of Grandin's autism and how it has impacted her life. Grandin, now a professor of animal science at Colorado State University and a lecturer on autism, uses both her understanding of autism as a scientist and her lived experiences to inform this memoir. The Library also has several other books by Grandin on autism as well as her studies of animal behavior. The Childhood Story of Christy Brown (Previously Entitled My Left Foot) by Christy Brown tells the author's story of overcoming cerebral palsy to communicate with those around him. Brown, a painter and writer, was able to communicate using his left foot. The Library also has a collection of poems by Brown. Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant: A Memoir by Daniel Tammet is the author's vivid description of how he understands the world. "Daniel Tammet sees numbers as shapes, colors, and textures, and he can perform extraordinary calculations in his head. He can learn new languages from scratch, in a week. He has savant syndrome, a rare condition that gives him almost unimaginable mental powers. But in one crucial way Daniel is not at all like the Rain Man: he is virtually unique among autistic people in that he is capable of living an independent life. He is even able to explain what is happening inside his head. Starting from early childhood, when he was incapable of making friends and prone to tantrums, to young adulthood, when he learned how to control himself and to live independently, fell in love, experienced a religious conversion to Christianity, and most recently, emerged as a celebrity." Agatha Christie: The Woman and Her Mysteries by Gillian Gill is a painstaking biography of one of the most popular mystery writers of all time, who also had dysgraphia, a disability that impairs one's ability to write. Nonetheless, Christie wrote dozens of books and created the enduringly popular characters of Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. Gill's biography explores the guarded writer's life through her writing, pairing literary analysis with historical facts. Helen Keller: A Life by Dorothy Herrmann retells the fascinating life of one of the most influential women in history. Keller, who was deaf and blind at 19 months old, overcame her disabilities to have a profound impact on how the world treats deaf and blind individuals. The book focuses on Keller's relationship with her teacher, Anne Sullivan. More books on and by Helen Keller are available in our collections.