Thursday, July 10, 2008

In Memorium: Marla Comm 1956-2008

I am still at ASA 2008 in Orlando, Florida using the hotel's computer. I was saddened to find out tonight from Susan Moreno who publishes the MAAP newsletter that my email pen pal Marla Comm recently passed away from breast cancer. Here again is a review of her book that I wrote about 9 months ago published on Jonathan's Journal where I used to do my blogging before moving it to Autism's Gadfly:

Well, recently I finished reading the book Severe Autism Support Denied by Leonard Jayson and my e-mail pen pal, Marla Comm. The book is about Marla's life as an autistic woman in Montreal Canada and all of the hardships that she has to endure because of her autism.The Theme of this book is in stark contrast to the more upbeat stories from people like Jenny McCarthy and Christina Adams and Catherine Maurice and others that I wrote about in my previous journal entry. It shows the negative side of autism, even in those who are college educated and by many standards high functioning.Marla lives in Montreal Canada, got a bachelors degree in Math and has a small part-time job as a library assistant. She is too impaired to take care of household chores and other matters and needs support in these areas which she cannot get. Montreal is a very bad environment for her due to the cold weather and the political situation there. Marla is English speaking and because of her disability was unable to learn French. The French who dominate Montreal are trying to suceed from Canada and do not like the English, especially those who speak no French. This is sort of like living in a foreign country and makes Marla isolated and her life difficult. I read about Marla in the MAAP newsletter and started corresponding with her some years ago and we have continued this correspondence via email. Marla has very little money and sometimes has to eat junk food to survive. She also suffers from some of the motor coordination problems that I suffer from so I was very interested to read about that. Marla suffers from severe global burnout after years of struggling in the unsuitable setting of Montreal without any supports.The book has some technical deficiencies as Jayson is not a professional author butsomeone who penpalled with Marla as did I and some other people. Marla is not a professional author either and suffers from ADHD as a condition co-morbid with her autism and therefore has organizational problems. Because of this when Jayson asked her to proof his writing for organizational problems Marla said she could not find any. There are numerous repetitions in the book and the way some of the information is presented is disorganized. In spite of this I enjoyed reading this as the negative side of autism hits home with me.Unfortunately, this is the type of book, along with David Miedzianik's stuff and the more negative things that I wrote will not go very far and will be censored by the powers that be. Marla's story is a story that needs to be told. However, people really want to hear success stories and hear that their kids will grow up to be another temple grandin or stephen shore. Not a David Miedzianik, Marla Comm or Jonathan Mitchell.If you happen to read this journal entry and you are interested in reading some of the negativities and hardships that a person with autism has to endure, I recommend you order the book from amazon.

She was among the few high functioning internet autistics who had the good sense to realize what a horrible disability autism is. I first started corresponding with Marla by snail mail several years ago after first reading about her in the MAAP newsletter, then we exchanged e-mail. She will be missed greatly.

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