When Sam (my youngest) was two and a half years old, we were told that he was most likely autistic and he probably had Asperger's Syndrome. Our doctor didn't tell us anything about the disorder and left us to gather our own information. We were referred to a speech therapist and Sam began weekly appointments for the next year and a half. Our pediatrician never followed up (we later changed doctors) and I began searching for more information. What I found scared me. After I researched autism, I began to have doubts about his condition and the speech therapist confirmed my suspicions. Sam didn't have autism, but he was speech delayed. He eventually caught up and then his speech took off. After the latest testing, we found out he was advanced. I remember wishing for more material on autism when we were under the impression that Sam had it. I wished for something written on autism by someone with autism. To me, that's the best information you can get. First hand information, when available, is far more valuable to me.
In “The City of Wistmore – Book One” (ISBN 1470066076), artist and writer Motesem Mansur pens a children’s book that shows the realities people living with autism face in a society that often does not understand their condition. It is the first of a planned series that will showcase the triumphs and tragedies of individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. The story follows the character of Gloves. Gloves is a very gifted builder with severe autism. His job is to build beautiful, elaborate castles for the city of Wistmore. Unfortunately, his condition prevents him from speaking. It is his burning desire to chat just like everyone else in town.
One day, the mayor tasks Gloves with building a number of castles for the homeless citizens of the city. Gloves sets about working on the castles but is harassed and made fun of by a group of people heckling him over his inability to speak. They threaten Gloves and chase him through town, forcing him back to his family’s house where Papa Gloves scares the terrorizing group away. Filled with embarrassment and self-loathing, Gloves feels worse than before, yet as others continue to judge him, he realizes he must accept himself for who he is.
Though told through a fantasy tale, “The City of Wistmore” reflects the lives of people with severe autism who wish to function like everybody else. The message of the book is that people with autism are capable of accomplishing great things and can make a huge difference in their worlds. At the end of the book, Mansur discusses his own experiences with autism and the prejudice and social ostracizing he has faced in his hometown. “The City of Wistmore” is a book that will educate readers about the reality of being autistic; facing bullies and struggling with self-acceptance. It will show the world that autism is nothing to be ashamed of and is written by a young man who has accepted both his condition and himself.
“The City of Wistmore – Book One” is available for sale online at Amazon.com and other channels.
About the Author:
Motesem Mansur is a 26-year-old college student who was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome at the age of 3. He has appeared in the Chicago Tribune and was featured on local television to discuss two of his previous books. He also works as an artist at the Chicago Cultural Center near his home in Burbank. Mansur holds events and book readings for schools in the city of Chicago.
-Your book helps children understand autism. What is the recommended age range for reading your book?
Recommended reading is ages 8 and up. Anyone can basically read the book. Not only children need to understand autism, but adults do as well.
-Did you create this book based on your own struggles with autism?
Yes I did. It's an everyday struggle when you walk outside in your own neighborhood and everyone hates you because of your condition. I pace the floors, I gaze at people, I have trouble communicating and understanding humor. I have very, very few friends. Usually, I'm alone. Sometimes I prefer it, that's because I know It's going to stay that way.
-How did your life compare to your character Gloves? Were the challenges the same?
Gloves is a floating sun with severe autism to the point where he can't speak. His life is filled with the citizens of Wistmore praising him for his architecture, but there are few who hate him for who he is. He yearns for the day where he will say his first words, but has to learn self acceptance, even though a vicious group of third graders throw snowballs at him because he couldn't speak.
I on the other hand, could not speak until the age of seven. My life has been filled with turmoil and cruelty. I can say, my challenges were the same, but in many ways, mine was more traumatic. Gloves was glorified by the citizens below him for building castles for the homeless. Me, on the other hand? Everyone hated me and I've lived that way for 26 years. Regardless of my accomplishments, I've been persecuted and thought by many people as stupid and crazy. Gloves had support from his dad, like I did. Now that my father died, I'm one person against everyone in my neighborhood. Gloves had support from the citizens below. As for me, I'm an emotional wreck who needs to struggle with the decision to live every day.
-If a parent wants to introduce a child's classmates to your book, can you suggest a way for parents to bring this up to their local school officials or educators?
A few things I can suggest. Talk to your child's principal, your school social worker, or talk to your child's teacher. Let them know about my book and let not only the child's teacher read my book to the kids, but every other teacher in school as well. All I can say, is let everyone in the school know that there is a book about autism written by someone who has it and it's very inspirational and it may help kids know how a child with autism is feeling in their life.
-Do you offer group discounts if a parent would like to provide classmates with a copy of your book?
Yes I do. If you purchase my books online, they sell for $7.99. I'll purchase whatever the amount of copies you say and I'll only charge the group $5.99 per book. You save two dollars per copy if you purchase from me. Autographed copies, however, are a dollar more, but hey, it's worth it!
-Your book can also help autistic children see that they are not alone. What do you want a reader to learn from your book?
I want the reader to understand that children and adults with autism are very capable of doing many things. Gloves builds castles for Wistmore. The other thing I want readers to know who have autism is use the support you have and praise what you contribute to society. Even for people who don't feel they've contributed to society, sometimes making a difference in someone's life, regardless of who you are, is the best thing anyone can do. It boosts your esteem and it makes you feel better. I'm trying to make a difference in people's lives through expressing my pain.
It's something I regularly suggest to people with autism and is actually the main piece of this book. Hard to agree at times by me, but it has helped me when it mattered most. Gloves is a builder. Someone with autism can be a difference maker in many ways. There are many people with autism who are gifted at certain things. If you don't like who you are because of your condition, guess what? Many people with autism spectrum disorders are amazing and even revolutionized the world with their contributions! Albert Einstein had Asperger’s. Look at what he did! You don't have to be Einstein, but you can be a great achiever at what you love doing!
-Book one is about autism. Will the books to come also focus on autism, or do you plan on covering other disorders, diseases, and disabilities as well?
Good question. My next few books will revolve around Gloves' life and will continue to reflect on autism, for now. There is a holiday version of Wistmore being released in early October. I have to say, my next books will cover more than just autism and some of them will be emotional to me.
-Your book can greatly impact the life of an autistic child and their family by simply educating other children in a playful way. You will be a hero to many families. Who is your hero?
My dad, who died a year ago at the wonderful age of 73, will always be my hero! He's the only one out of very few who actually had the time to understand my pain. We went to many restaurants, hangouts, stores, and spent time together, father and son. He cared. Before he died, I was honored to hear from him that I was the best son ever from the day I was born... til the day he died.
-Can you tell me more about autism and the challenges autistic children face?
Autism is a developmental disability that impairs a person’s social interaction and their communication. People with autism tend to have strict rituals and repetitive behavior. From my experience, I had to be sent to develop kindergarten classes until I was able to speak. Autistic children face a great challenge, especially with other kids using offensive words as a social norm (the “r” word, for instance). Society, in a way, is a little crueler but yet a little more understanding about autism. It hurts for an autistic child to see others speak and develop quicker than them. I’ve gone through it myself.
-What websites do you recommend for more information about autism?
The Dan Marino Foundation
Autism Society of America
The Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation
These are my all time favorites.
-If you have been contacted by a parent that has a positive story (related to a child or classmates reading the book) please share it with my readers!
I read to schools in the Chicago area. I read my book to seven schools. In every school, I came across a parent or a teacher who has a child or close one with autism. I’ve brought people to tears when they heard what I went through. I attempted suicide in 2009, I’ve been in and out of hospitals from 2001 to 2010, and I’ve been in three nursing homes until I got my own apartment last year. I have an entire neighborhood against me because of my condition and thanks to their years of abuse, I developed paranoid schizophrenia and a severe case of bipolar disorder. My life isn’t easy… at all.
It wasn’t only what I went through that brought them to tears; it’s how my story brought a sense of hope and understanding. Now they have a glimpse of what their loved one with autism is going through, and they have some info on what I need to endure.
Thank you Moe for giving us a glimpse into your life. You really are an inspiration and I think your books will be an invaluable tool for helping families understand autism. I am looking forward to watching you turn your traumatic experiences into something beautiful, in hopes that other autistic children can be understood and have an easier life.
Look for "The City Of Wistmore" and educate your child and others about autism. More and more children are being diagnosed each year and there is a good chance that your child knows another child that suffers. With a little understanding, these children can suffer less and have a better life.
Disclosure: I was compensated for my time to prepare this interview. Any opinions expressed are mine and not influenced in any way.