Times Educational Supplement
MIND Book of the Year 2001 I was intensely moved by Kate Rankin's account of life with her son Gabriel, whose 'toys' include fluorescent tape, rubber gloves, keyrings and laces. At 15, he is incontinent, has violent mood swings, has no speech, bangs his head, shows no spontaneous affection and demands constant attention. It is a story of human endurance, loyalty, frustration and acceptance. It raises some of the most poignant questions about quality of life with (and around) autism, and how individuals with an 'altered perspective' think or feel.
What lifts this book far above the level of a solemn case study is Kate Rankin's ability to see the world through the subject's eyes, which is after all the mark of a good biographer. She enables us to feel something of what it must be like to be Gabriel. There is much to learn from this clear-sighted book as well, dare one say, as to enjoy, both for its warm humanity and its boastless courage.
Blake Morrison, The Guardian
Growing up Severely Autistic... told from the point of view of the carer not the sufferer, is full of searing authenticity
Journal of Social Work
First-hand accounts by disabled people themselves or by their families or carers are invaluable sources of information for social workers. They illustrate the practical problems of everyday life and the coping strategies used, the efficiency and effectiveness of support services, and the force of oppression experienced... the book is moving, disturbing, informative and though-provoking. As long as this is not our only reading on autism. I would thoroughly recommend this book.
John Clifton, AAIWW
Rankin is well informed and provides clear and concise accounts. Rankin has written a plainspoken and courageous account. It should prove to be an invaluable resource to other parents, siblings, caregivers and educators.
This highly acclaimed biography presents a brutally honest account, in diary form, of bringing up a severely autistic teenager. Gabriel is completely unsocialized, is incontinent and unable to speak. In this book his mother, with great honesty, describes what it is like to bring up an autistic child who requires constant care and exhibits challenging behaviour. Growing Up Severely Autistic covers the minutiae of daily life with vivid immediacy, from preventing Gabriel eating the goldfish to helping him through his grief on the death of his father. Educationalists will read with interest of his school-days, through to his entry into residential care at the age of 17. With affection and humour, Kate Rankin has written a personal and intimate study of her son who is very different from those around him and cannot himself articulate his experiences.
Human Givens Journal
this book is a joy to read, written as it is without either rancour or sentimentality.This is a personal, loving, illuminating account, told in 200 pages but speaking volumes.
For many years Kate Rankin kept a diary of life with Gabriel, her autistic son. In Growing Up Severely Autistic she interweaves excerpts from her diary with personal reflections on the nature of autism and the trials of caring for an autistic child. The diary format is surprisingly successful in portraying the triumphs and disasters of living with Gabriel as he grows up.
Growing Up Severely Autistic won the Mind Book of the Year. I am really annoyed with myself that I missed it when it was published in 2000 (it was the only one of the short list that I didn't review) and I am not sure how it slipped through the net. Not just because it won the prize, but even more because it is very good... a careful, thoughtful account of what it means to live like this. What you end up with is a sense of Kate Rankin, and her husband, as good people. It is courageous and refreshing and a very suitable prize-winner.
The Methodist Recorder
A gripping and insightful book about autism has been written by Kate Rankin from her informed perspective as the mother of the boy portrayed in Growing Up Severely Autistic, subtitled They Call me Gabriel. The book not only chronicles the day-to-day life of her son but also explores the causes of and occasional remedies for the very wide range of "autistic spectrum disorders" (ASD), as autism is now described. A humbling and educational read.
The winner of the Mind Book of the Year Award was Growing up Severely Autistic: They Call Me Gabriel by Kate Rankin. This courageous book by the mother of an autistic boy was praised by judges Blake Morrison, Michele Roberts and Fay Weldon for its emotional honesty and the power and clarity of its writing.