Twirling Naked in the Streets and No One Noticed

Growing Up With Undiagnosed Autism

Non-Fiction - Memoir
204 Pages
Reviewed on 05/04/2013
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Author Biography

Jeannie Davide-Rivera is an author, professional blogger, part time student and full time mother with Asperger’s Syndrome. She has written guest blogs and appeared on live blog interviews sharing her experiences and raising awareness of the plight of people with Autism Spectrum Disorder, (ASD).

Originally from Brooklyn, New York, she currently lives in South Carolina with her husband and three autistic sons. She is currently expecting her fourth son to arrive in a few months.

You can visit her blog at for more insights into the mind sets and thought processes of people with Asperger’s Syndrome.

    Book Review

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.

Anne Boling

Jeannie Davide-Rivera shares her story of growing up with undiagnosed Autism in “Twirling Naked in the Streets and No One Noticed: Growing Up With Undiagnosed Autsm.” In the introduction Jeannie shares the statistics of Autism. “In 1974, 1 in 5,000 children were diagnosed with Autism…In 2013…1 in 55 children are now diagnosed and identified as being on the autism spectrum.” She continues to describe her imaginary friends: ten puppies and 3 baseball players. Though she was only three at the time she was focused to the point of obsession on baseball. She refused to leave home without her imaginary friends in their assigned places. There were many other symptoms such as obsessively walking on her toes, insisting on a routine of her own and being hyper-sensitive to fabrics. No one understood what was going on with Jeannie; her mother assumed she was being difficult. Her father would knock food out of her hand if he caught her smelling of it. In the seventh grade Jeannie wore her coat in class because she was ill and having chills. The teacher “grabbed a fist full of my hair to pull me from the desk.” Jeannie in return grabbed a fist full of the teacher’s hair. In high school she attended an alternative school which seemed to be the best choice for her.

My heart goes out to the author, Jeannie Davide-Rivera; her Autism caused her parents to be angry and frustrated. Perhaps if her parents had recognized the disorder they would have been able to cope in a more appropriate manner. However, the reality of her childhood was abuse. I admire the person Jeannie has become despite the obstacles that have stood in her way. “… an autistic person must think about and focus consciously to perceive what comes naturally to others.” The author courageously shares the pain of her childhood and adulthood. At one point Jeannie uses the word 'disconnected'. I believe that word best describes Autism. Like most of us, knowing there really is a problem, that it isn’t just our imagination, made a difference in Jeannie’s life. I highly recommend this book to others.

Maria Beltran

Suffering from autism, Jeannie is an intelligent child who cannot comprehend the context of words, nor their meanings and social implications. This is in 1974 when awareness of autism and other mental conditions are not as high as today. Her family thinks she is a stubborn, picky, hyper-sensitive little girl with plenty of imaginary friends. She attends school, studies ballet and exhibits a number of strange behaviors that are simply explained away. In middle school, she thinks nobody understands her. Excelling in academics, she struggle through life as a college student at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. After this, she becomes a bank teller, cashier, waitress, bartender, lab assistant, undercover investigator, emergency medical technician, secretary, dance instructor, medical transcriptionist, correctional officer, and a writer. Simply unable to keep a job, the 23 year old Jeannie gets married and have children. She floats in life, feeling alone and without purpose, looking for some kind of explanation. This is her struggle, her life.

Life is hard enough without being autistic and "Twirling Naked in the Street and No One Noticed" is the story of the struggles of an autistic woman. In addition, she goes through life and nobody around her knows it. As soon as I started reading the first few pages of this memoir, I could almost see the author as a little girl with her imaginary friends. I like it that she is using the first person perspective because it provides the story an intimate feel. This narrative gives us an idea of how an autistic mind sees and reacts to life's challenges. Recounting her life from childhood to motherhood and beyond, Jeannie Davide-Rivera literally bares her soul to her readers. This is perhaps in the hope that her readers may get to understand anyone suffering from Asperger's Syndrome, a form of high functioning autism. The author's descriptive style is simple and straightforward and is quite effective in making the story vivid and real. I also like the titles of the book's twenty three chapters because most of them exhibit a sense of humor that is heartwarming. I highly recommend this book to everyone, not only to understand people with autism, but also because Jeannie Davide-Rivera is a gifted story teller.


Provides the all too rare 1st person perspective of an aspie. Too often books about aspergers & autism are written from the normative guesswork of Neuro-typical teachers, doctors and Parents or worse yet charities. This book counters that nonsense with Jeannie's highly reflexive account being Neuro diverse in a Neuro typical dominated world. I highly reccomend it.