Hi Barbara! Here for your requested review in the Staff Review thread.
I love how you've set the premise for this story and woven colours into the narrative from the very beginning. The mention of the book and how long his understanding of the book has evolved over the years is such a powerful indicator of a difficult journey, that what’s going on here is more complex than a simple dislike of a book.
When we move on to his thoughts about the Harry Potter camp and associating it to the colour Green, there’s such a light, hopeful tone to the scene, and the excitement is infectious. You’ve captured the voice of an eleven year old so well.
My heart goes out to this child. The way he segregates things and days into colours, with Green being Good, and Red being Bad, and Orange as moving towards Bad, is like his coping mechanism to understand the world. By categorising everything into colours and associating them with positive or negative emotions, he’s navigating daily life and making sense of things around him. There are so many details that you’ve packed into the scene with his mom. Lines like “People say you can see those in faces too, but all I see is a face” and “She did? I remember her telling me once at the breakfast table” are packed with so much meaning. He seems to be so absorbed in his thoughts and disconnected from the world around him, genuinely not having heard his mom.
I haven’t even left the house and the day is blue. This is such a powerful ending to this section. I hope I’m interpreting this correctly -- it seems like Green is on one end with Red on the other end, and the spectrum moving like a scale. So Blue is a step in the Bad direction and the day isn’t as good as it was because of the tiff with his mom. I just want to hug them both.
The scene at the camp is so heartbreaking. I haven’t had a lot of interactions with children with autism, and this made me understand so much more about their lives and all the stressors they go through. He’s clearly overwhelmed by all the noises, and I can only imagine what it must be like for him to try and filter everything. I hate that none of the adults pay attention. It’s so sad but also such a realistic way of showing how society still has a long way to go in understanding children on the spectrum.
People are always happier when you are perfect. They aren’t happy when you make mistakes. Gosh, this got to me. I can relate to this sentiment because of my anxiety, but to think that a child is going through such a state of mind and his whole life is affected by such a thought is so difficult, I’m overwhelmed by emotions right now.
He also seems to feel everything so deeply. The way it affects him when the Harry Potter Camp doesn’t have any actual magic is so hard-hitting. Everything that happens just serves to remind him that the world is harsh, and promises are never kept, that his expectations will never remain fulfilled.
There are so many layers to this story and the child’s view of the world. In a way, things are simple – there are rules, steps to be followed, things that are good, and things that are bad. Everything is clear-cut and as long as these rules are followed, things will remain Green. But not everyone is going to behave the same way, and things are going to go wrong. When they do, and they don’t meet the child’s expectations, it’s so intensely bad that he feels like the world is suffocating. This is such a difficult situation to navigate and you’ve written all of these scenes that make up the child’s day in such a clear, powerful manner.
“The whole world should eat me. I am bad. I shouldn’t be loved anymore.” This bit of dialogue broke me. While the child wants the world to work in the way he believes it should, he also experiences so much guilt when he’s unable to contain his emotions and they burst out in this way. His mother clearly loves him a lot and doesn’t blame him one bit, and I feel so much empathy for both of them right now. They’re both trying their best and sometimes it gets really difficult because the world doesn’t understand what it’s like.
I love the tinge of hope in the ending. Both the child and his mother are so amazing, remaining strong even through the worst of days and keeping their thoughts positive, focusing on reaching a place where the world would be easier to deal with.
Gosh, your writing is beautiful in this, and conveyed a really powerful, important message about what it’s like, not only for children with autism, but also their families. <3
All my love.
Thanks, Nim. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. This story is definitely near and dear to my heart.
I'm here for the Magical Menagerie and BvY.
I'd actually been meaning to read this for a long time, but I hadn't been reading much at all. I'm very happy to be here now!
On that note...
This is one of the best stories I have read in years. Genuinely. I'm so overcome.
This child. Oh, my heart. I want to hug this child. I want to help them feel at home in the world. Every emotion in this is perfectly rendered. In someways, I can't relate at all, and the failure to relate in itself is so revealing. IE, I don't know why it's a big deal to have waffles instead of pancakes. I'm never going to be able to predict how a small change feels to someone else. But you show me here how the child feels lost when the world doesn't go as expected. So even though I can't relate, you are giving me the tools to empathize. That's very powerful.
The child just wants to be good and loved and to feel safe. The absolute most normal, human things for a person to want. I'm struggling to find words for this story because it is so powerful, so deeply felt.. I can't articulate it right.
You got the child's voice perfectly. Both in dialogue and in inner narrative, it is a simple voice that sounds like a child. Perhaps a child a bit younger than 11, but that kind of makes sense. The way the child uses colors to describe the world is so tangible. I think I remember soething similar in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. Is that a common framework in people with Autism? That's so interesting.
In the section where everything goes red, I swear I felt the pain. It's so visceral the way you wrote it, focusing on the dialogue because the child is to overcome to really process their own thoughts.
"It’s not really any color I can describe. It’s the color of regret."
^ I adore this description
Now, the mother. Bless her. While surely she isn't perfect, she acts with compassion and love in a really tough parenting situation. The first rule made me cry, not gonna lie. I'm so so grateful the child has this loving and patient mother, because otherwise I don't think I could bear to read this story.
I am absolutely blown away by this. 10/10
Thank you for reviewing. I love the part you said about giving you the tools to empathsize. That just made my heart ache but also sing because it means it was not just a story but a message and a way to understand others.
I actually haven't read the Curious Incident of the Dog but I really need to. I keep hearing about it.
The first rule does make me cry--every time I say it to my son.
Hi! Here for RvG and the Magical Menagerie.
This was such a beautiful story. One of my good friends is autistic, so I have some background knowledge of how autism influences the way that you experience the world, but obviously have never experienced it for myself. I thought that this was such a clever story, making the protagonist the child with autism which meant the reader got an insight into the way that they experience the world. The outside world can be scary enough for a neurotypical child, and I think that you captured how truly overwhelming it can be for children with autism, when the way the world is designed isn't aligned to the way that their brains process.
I really liked the colour theme that you introduced from very early on, not only with the way that the child wakes up knowing that it's a green day, but even the first line - the fact that many-coloured days are overwhelming for them, and it foreshadows the way that the day is going to turn out for the child, too, despite the optimism of the green day at the start.
You packed this with so many details that it's hard to pick up on all of them, but I really appreciated all of the different aspects of autism that you managed to bring into this story, so naturally: the way that reading expressions can be difficult, and even when they recognise expressions, it's difficult to understand the emotion behind it; the literalness of understanding (the way that the child believes the Harry Potter camp is going to be truly magical, rather than a Muggle version of the book events); the need to follow rules without any real compromise; the need for things to be exact and the difficulties of dealing with unexpected events.
I felt really sorry for the child here, especially towards the end of the story when they had the meltdown; processing everything that had happened was so difficult, and while it's completely understandable that that would happen if you have any understanding of autism, the sense of shame was so heartbreaking.
I loved the optimism at the end of this story, though - it was so sweet and hopeful, and I loved the idea that the world would get easier for them to live in and their goal was to be able to deal with the changing nature of days.
Thank you. This was written for the Unreliable Challenge so I figured a child with autism might be classified as such since it's very challenging to understand their logic sometimes. Thanks for the review.
Here to judge for the Unreliable Narrator Challenge.
Aww... this was so touching... I don't really have any experience with autism, but I loved the way you portrayed it here. I loved the metaphore of colours and the way the protagonist sees the world. It felt such an autentic and honest portrayal, which I loved.
I loved all the details you put in this, all the small things that the child notices and the impact they have on him. One thing I really loved was the bit about mistakes, how we (as humans in general) always say that it's okay making mistakes, but then we are constantly judging. It's such a real and profound thought and it's also kind of cruel... I think the world would be a much better place if we all tried to be just slightly more compassionate...
And talking about compassion, I loved the mother here. Even if she doesn't always understand, she has so much love for her child, and it is so apparent in the last scene. That was so sweet. And I also really, really loved the closed paragraph, how hopeful it is.
I'm not sure if I did a great job at showing it with this review, but I really enjoyed this story a lot. Thank you so much for entering the challenge!
Lots of love,
Thanks, Chiara. The part about mistakes is so true in our society. We only celebrate the successes-rarely the effort. What's important? the destination or the road you take?
Hi Barbara! I’m popping by to spread a little holiday cheer!
As a whole, I think this piece was really, really wonderfully executed. I loved that you established the “multicolour days” theme early on, and it remains a really prominent feature throughout. It’s also a really brilliant way of communicating this child’s thought process, and providing explanation for why he behaves the way that he does in certain situations. As someone who worked in a pediatric occupational therapy clinic ages ago (so like, I’m not certainly an expert but do have some experience working with children with autism), this story really felt like something that accurately gets at what’s going on in their minds.
On that note, I really think your sentence structure also works well for writing from a child’s perspective - the short sentences and tangible emotions work really fantastically here. The whole section of “People are always happier when you are perfect.” feels so real and like such an accurate summation of how he’s feeling, and then when you bring it up again towards the end of the story - “It’s the color of regret. I wasn’t perfect.” - it just… it’s so heartwrenching and SO GOOD.
And then this ending line - “I’m going to walk straight into rainbow and I won’t be afraid of any of its colors.” - it ties everything back together and makes the story feel complete.
You really knocked it out of the park with this one - it was an absolute joy to read and feels so, so real.
Thanks Taylor and thank you, again, for the picspam. It's awesome and I added it to my story.
Thanks for reminding me of this story. I meant to read it anyway, as I am very inerested in autism, but never got around to it.
I love the way you show the child's confusion over what is meant by expressions like "step on it" and the difficulty being able to read more complicated emotions from faces.
Aw, that part about people not being happy when you make mistakes is sad.
*laughs at the snitch being a kid in a yellow shirt* I guess that is one way of working that. And I can see why a child with autism would be upset at a Muggle approximation at Quidditch. It isn't going to be very close for a whole number of reasons.
"What in the world do cannibals having to do with people wanting to eat me?" Should that be "have to do" instead of "having to do"?
You've written that the boy "asked" his mum if he could go to the playground but that she "replies." One is past tense and the other is present.
It surprised me a little that the kid breaking the rules was only two. I like the way you wrote that, so that it looked like a kid being troublesome and even a bit pushy and then it turned out it was just a child too young to understand the rules.
Thanks for the review. Editing is not my forte. As long as you understand the story, I don't sweat the small stuff.
This piece is beautiful lovely. I am speachless and in near tears having read this. I have worked with students with autisim and it holds a special place in my heart. You have depicted those who have autisim very well. You did a nice job of capturing how things operate in that world and while it was only a small bit how you wrote the mother was lovely. It just spoke to me in so many ways. It is not often that I find good representations of those with autisim and this was just beautiful.
Your story spoke to my heart and I cannot say enough good things about this. You made things very tangible for a reader and I love this story so hard that I cannot even express myself in a coherent fashion. Thank you for taking the time to write this and to write it well. (I don't know if this comes from research or experience but either way thank you for taking it into consideration.)
Thank you for your kind words. It comes from experience. I'm the mom in the story.
Hello! Thank you for entering the Unreliable Narrator Challenge, I'm here to review your entry!
This is an interesting story for many reasons, and really stands out as there aren't a lot of stories like this, that feature an autistic narrator. I don't know if you've read it, but this fic reminds me a little of a novel I read years ago called The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, mostly because the narrator is also on the autism spectrum and has very strong feelings about certain colors he dislikes.
One of the things that struck me was the way you used color in this story, and how the narrator associates different feelings with colors, I love this, and I don't know if this is typical or not for autism, but it definitely has an element of synesthesia (the mixing up of different sensory signals, in many cases associating colors with certain sounds or numbers). I also don't see much of a pattern to the narrator's color scale (that's not a criticism, just an observation). Green is good, and then up the rainbow towards red it seems to get worse, but blue also seems to be undesirable. I am sure it all makes perfect sense in the their head, though, as evidenced by the clear divide between green and bluish-yellow :D
I’ve told you 5 times to get dressed.” She did? I remember her telling me once at the breakfast table. -- I really liked this line. It could be that Mom is exaggerating, or it could be that she did say it five times while the narrator was deep in their head thinking about waffles and the color of the day, and that was what was taking priority. It was a very subtle way of reminding the reader that a lot is going on outside of the actual narration of what is happening, because the narrator's priorities are focused internally rather than externally in that moment.
Likewise, the building being blue and orange is the way it projects on the narrator's mind. I love that. You don't describe the way it looks to eyes, but to the narrator's mind and it's really effective.
The scene where the narrator has a tantrum at the end was really heartbreaking, like he knows he shouldn't, but everything that went wrong during the day kind of adds up - and then it's what he thinks about it afterwards that really gets to me, how he made a mistake and that's why he's upset with himself - because he wasn't perfect. Gah. That's hard enough for a kid who isn't on the spectrum, and I imagine in the narrator's case it's even harder. Poor kid. :(
I think you did a great job with this and the way you used the POV was very clever. Thanks again for entering the challenge!
Thank you. Your review helped me feel validated because you mentioned so many of the ideas I was trying to get across with an unreliable narrator, particularly how is mind is so busy and often so separated from the world around him, the build up of anxiety and the guilt.
The colors were supposed to go green, blue, yellow, orange and then red-not quite rainbow order but it's in this order for three reasons a) cool colors and then warm colors, b) green means go and red stop/anger so they are the end points and c) the child I based this on's favorite color is green.
No, I haven't read The Curious Incident of the Dog in Nighttime. I'll have to look it up.
Thanks for the review.
Hey there. Here for the House Cup Maze #1 Task!
I'd like to start by saying that I don't know much about autism firsthand, but something about the title of your story just drew me in.
I think you describe perfectly how the way a day feels changes by the way of different colors as hours pass by, and the way the colors blend in with every part of the story you're telling fits very well within the narrative. It's easy to understand how autism can feel like this endless psychological maze one would have a really hard time going through, let alone escaping, and how sometimes having a focus, like your protagonist does with HP, can help attenuate and change one's emotions.
I'm a little curious as to why you chose to write this piece, since it isn't a theme I've seen around all that much. Plus I'd never heard of the book (Dr. Seuss isn't all that known around here), but this sure was an interesting read! It's strong, yet short and simple, and your descriptions were captivating. It kind of makes me wander how different or alike a similar narrative would be if the protagonist was shown at different ages.
All in all, I really enjoyed this xx
Thank you. I like your description of the psychological maze. That's exactly what I was going for.
My Many Colored Days is not one of his more popular books. I bet even most of the 3 and 4 year olds around here haven't heard of it, but it fit perfectly with my story.
As for why I wrote it? It's a biography of sorts. I'm the mom.
Hi! I stopped by for the “Maze One” challenge.
The title with “Autism” caught my eyes, my friend’s children seem to have a similar experience to the protagonist’s in your story. So I had an interest.
I guess their mother has the same feeling just like this child’s mother in your story. I think their mothers feel like they are also in a maze to understand them, too. And the children may feel this world as a maze to survive. It must be scary to imagine noisy people will try eating you.
Oh, this child feels good and excited on a green day. Harry Potter Camp sounds fun. I’d like to join, too. Mmm…for me, French toast, please. I like orange, too. Oh, I feel for this child who couldn’t have waffles for breakfast.
I think you captured the child’s movement with Autism very well. I spotted:
I stab the French toast with my fork as I practice my breathing…Green…1, 2, 3…
: the word as it bustles around me until her voice pulls me in from my delectable fog, these are brilliant.
Agh, the child knows what tardiness is like, then found a book to read on. My friend’s children are just the same. And I understand how their mothers feel under the circumstances.
The next words hurts. : You are only good when you are perfect. These words educate me. We have to keep it mind that mistakes are okay with anyone, especially around childrens' behaviours.
Ha ha ha, a snitch was a kid in a yellow shirt. I really feel for this kid. I felt happy for this kid when the hamburger was given.
The latter highlight scenes let me think about the children with Autism again. And I wonder who makes the rule to live in this world. Nobody has the right to decide the rules to live in this world.
Thank you for sharing a beautiful piece of your works. You used the protagonist’s psychological maze featuring colors effectively with various situations which often happen with the children with Autism. Many kudos on your writing!
Thank you for the review. I'm glad you enjoyed it.