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Reviewed by Robert Rose for Readers' Favorite
Jeannie Davide-Rivera spent most of her 38 years alone in her mind. Her insensitivity to others’ thoughts, feelings, and actions kept her from making meaningful emotional connections. One grandmother was an exception. She understood one aspect of her hyper-sensitivity. She took her to the yarn store and let her pick out - by smell and touch - the fabrics that she used to make her clothes. Otherwise, as the title suggests, she’d wear only her birthday suit. This was one of the ways her sensory system reacted badly to what was ‘normal' to others. At school the sounds and sights that others found helpful in learning were, to Jeannie, chaotic and confusing. Being sent out to sit in the hall was a relief to her and she could read and do her schoolwork in peace. She had taught herself to read at age 4. Her hyper-memory made it easy for her to be an “A” student in any type of academic setting. She managed to get through junior high despite her hypo sensitivity to others, but her high school days were spent anywhere except in school. She probably went to class for a total of one year. Yet at 17 she passed the GED, missing only 3 questions and made 1400 on the SAT. Like many who are seen as “different” she followed her own path without regard what others thought. She was attractive so she used men as well as they used her. She pursued her husband and he deserves a medal because beside her autism, they have 3 sons with varying degrees of it. They together read widely and 'discovered' her autism.
Jeannie has written an autobiography that is well-organized, well-crafted, filled with honest gut wrenching drama, and reads like a good mystery. It shows the glaring problems of our health delivery system. It demonstrates the problems of inattention (not listening to patients) of health professionals, their tendency to jump to quick conclusions based on inadequate information (misdiagnosis), and to prescribe treatments and drugs that often don’t work or make the patient worse (patients’ and drug companies’ pressure on doctors.). These are compounded by our education system's inability or refusal to teach each individual how his complex body and mind works and how these functions affect himself and others. "Twirling Naked in the Streets and No One Noticed" is a book that could be life changing for anyone with any medical condition and for all of us who will face some or be the caregivers of those afflicted. Thanks, Jeannie.