Anlor Davin is an autistic French woman and Zen student. Medication opened the door for friendships, purpose and self-discoveries that have helped her thrive. This fall she will be leading a monthly meditation group in San Rafael, California to help others on the spectrum find their Zen. Anlor has just released the story of her life in Being Seen, Memoir of an Autistic Mother, Immigrant, and Zen Student.
Tell us about your book, Being Seen.
The book is my memoir, about me a French woman with autism struggling not only to be seen, but to be understood and respected. My childhood was beset by overwhelming sensory chaos and I had trouble navigating the social world. Without having a name for my condition, I moved to America where I survived a new culture without the support of my family. Today, I work to help people understand autism and the value of meditation.
What inspired you to write it?
I wanted to help others like me. I had a strong desire to talk about my autism especially during my zazen meditation. For a while I was frustrated with my inability to articulate, and at least two Zen friends with whom I shared this told me I ought to write my thoughts down. That’s how I started. Then my autism focus and the discipline I learned in Zen kept me going, I started this as a project and I ought to see to its end.
How did you illustrate your book?
I included 10 black and white pictures in my book, and each chapter ends with a special little drawing of a pattern I repeated over and over in my childhood, in the autism jargon it is a called a “stim.”
Who is the ideal reader and how do you see the book being used?
The ideal readers are all those who are touched in one way or another by autism− autistic people, parents and family members, friends and professionals in the field. Of course, it is also for the general reader. I really would love to see the bias about autism be dispelled.
What’s the message you want your readers to take away after reading the book?
One of the main message is to say that there is hope in autism, and basic meditation can really help.
Do you have a proud moment, inspirational story, or moving fan feedback you’d like to share?
One Amazon review made me cry. It was by a father who said:
“I gave this book five stars because I was totally engrossed and could not put it down. I have a daughter with autism and the gift Anlor has given me is priceless in regards to greater understanding of what she may be going through.”
This is the reason why I wrote my book.
If our readers leave with only one message after reading this interview, what would you like it to be?
Don’t be so afraid of autism, give opportunities (and jobs) to the autistic, whether they are children or adults.