Monday 10 October 2016

Book Review: That Place of Knowledge

From the Back:

Sabre, an autism assistance dog, stars as the perfect narrator in an imaginary journey to an enchanting city with Philip, his 15-year old partner. 

It all begins when Sabre is assigned to an autistic, non-verbal, boy who seems to have an adventurous streak. One sunny summer afternoon, the usual swim in the pool leads to an under water trap door opening a passage to a secret city. There, time seems to have stood still since Ancient Greece. 

The Classic surroundings are perfectly suited for wondrous, uplifting conversations. And that is just what Philip does. 

Sabre is right at his side as Philip encounters the philosopher Aristotle. Their conversations centre on a shared desire to seek knowledge, learning and happiness. 
Philip’s questions incite deep revelations, not only about himself but also about life in general. He gains insight and knowledge from Aristotle and it is clear that the philosopher also quite enjoys the company of his new friends. The young writer, who shows a wisdom beyond his years, gives you a glimpse of an alternate reality of deep and intriguing thought where you will want to return again and again.

My Reflections:

Philip Alan Shalka is one of a kind, and that is not because he was diagnosed with autism. This young 15-year old has more insight than most adults three times his age. His thoughtfully written story told in part by his dog guide Sabre is imaginative, captivating and enlightening. 

When asked to tell about himself Shalka acknowledges that most people don't expect much of a non-verbal autistic 15-year-old. I think we all need to take a good look at our perceptions and perceived expectations because this young man has a lot to say and it is quite profound and complex. 

Our misconceptions and overstated stereotypes are reducing the label of autism to one-dimensional diagnosis, whereas it is truly a multifaceted and complex set of characteristics that is not duplicated in each individual. 
If you have met one autistic have met one autistic person. 

Shalka is yet again a stark reminder that like Temple Grandin, autistic individuals have a lot to teach. Shalka is able to express his written thoughts in a unique and complex manner. I believe we must change the antiquated mindsets of the past and start to look upon these unique individuals with hope and admiration, as they have a very bright future.

"That Place of Knowledge" would be appropriate for all age groups. young people would enjoy the mystery and adventure surrounding the plot, along with the narrator of Saber the Dog guide. 
Adults will appreciate Shalka's views and philosophy in a deep and meaningful way. I don't think readers will come away from this very special book with the same perceptions the had going in. 

I am looking forward to reading more from this up and coming philosopher and author! 
I hope that he decides to write a memoir or perhaps books about how he views current therapies. I think I am not alone with my excitement over discovering ways in which we can improve on the cutting edge therapies currently available.

I aspire to discover ways in which the genius inside can be nurtured, because this young man is certainly someone you will want to keep your eyes open for, he will most certainly be changing the landscape of the autistic world!

About the Author:

*when asked to describe himself the author penned this response.

There is so much that I can say about who I am. My background is where my story begins.

I am the youngest son in my Ukrainian family. I have an older sister Roberta. We are the awesome kids of our awesome parents, Bob and Elena. How can I describe my family? They are interesting and supportive.

My parents traveled to many places and my sister is talented in drama. Most importantly, they all love me and think I am great. We have lived in this house for as long as I can remember. I was rather energetic growing up but mostly because I have always enjoyed seeing or hearing new things.
Typically much isn't expected from an autistic child. This might be the case for others but I am not typical. I understand things going on around me. Even if I look like I'm not paying attention, I actually am. I am just as capable of learning as anyone else. The difference is how I learn. I have
had many therapists since I was young that have worked with me to help me improve my skills. My time with my therapists really made a difference for me. I have found that working has made me feel smart. However that is not all.

At home my basement is my favourite place to be. (Phililps therapy room)
This is where I feel comfortable. I feel relaxed because it has been my space for so long. I feel like I always do my best work here. There is so much that I want to achieve in my life. I enjoy being different and people I look up to are those who have been known for being different. People like Albert Einstein. He was known for his intelligent ideas that were very different from anyone else's ideas. His ideas changed the entire world and I think that is exactly what I want to do. I think that it is important to inspire others. I would like to create something that is interesting and different that will inspire people in the future. Given all that I have said, I hope this is a good explanation of who I am as a person.

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