Being Seen

By Anlor Davin

Biography & memoir | Paperback, eBook


Being Seen is a memoir about an autistic woman struggling not only to be seen but to be understood and respected. Anlor Davin grew up in a small town on the Western coast of France. From earliest childhood she was beset by overwhelming sensory chaos and had trouble navigating the social world. Only many years later did she learn that she was autistic. Throughout childhood Anlor struggled to hold her world together and in many ways succeeded: She became an accomplished young tennis player, competing even at the level of the French Open. However, in addition to her autism a dark history hung over her family, a history revealed to her only in her teen years, and that she did not fully understand for years to come. In the days of Anlor’s youth France was in the grip of a psychoanalytic view of autism and related conditions — a view that blamed mothers for the condition and relegated many autistic children to lives of institutional confinement. Without yet having a name for her world-shattering condition Anlor sensed that it was unsafe for her to remain in her home country, and so she packed up and headed to a new life in America. When she landed she was as autistic as ever but now also had to contend with the raw basics of survival in a new culture, speaking a new language, and without support from her family. Through incredible effort Anlor was able to parlay her knowledge of the French language into a job teaching in the notorious South Side neighborhood of Chicago, one of America’s most violent. Never stinting, Anlor married, had a child, and even dreamed that she might be able to pass as a neurotypical person. However, this was not to be. The grim toll of daily compensating for her autism, of “pretending to be normal”, proved too great a challenge and Anlor’s life imploded. She spiraled downward into a kind of hell; she lost her marriage and had to let go of her beloved child. Desperate, answering an inner summons, Anlor moved West to California, where she found her way to what was to her a mysterious and ancient tradition of spiritual practice from the Far East — zen. Through this profound system of meditation and community she was able to slowly rebuild her life, this time with honest acceptance of the challenge she faced. The path took her through extreme emotional and physical duress but also led at last to proper medical diagnosis and treatment of her autism. Anlor was reunited with her beloved child. She came at last to understand the shadow that had hung over her family for generations. Today Anlor works daily to help people understand autism of the kind that she experiences, and to let people know the value of basic meditative practice in living, and thriving, in autism.


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Being Seen is a memoir about an autistic woman struggling not only to be seen but to be understood and respected. Anlor Davin grew up in a small town on the Western coast of France. From earliest childhood she was beset by overwhelming sensory chaos and had trouble navigating the social world. Only many years later did she learn that she was autistic. Throughout childhood Anlor struggled to hold her world together and in many ways succeeded: She became an accomplished young tennis player, competing even at the level of the French Open. However, in addition to her autism a dark history hung over her family, a history revealed to her only in her teen years, and that she did not fully understand for years to come. In the days of Anlor’s youth France was in the grip of a psychoanalytic v...


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Anlor (from Anne-Laure) Davin is autistic. She was diagnosed at age 46, a life-changing, and life-saving, event she traces to her Zen practice of the years preceding. Anlor is an immigrant, born in France in 1964. During Anlor’s childhood her native France was in the grip of oppressive and now discredited theories about autism. Anlor instinctively knew she had to flee France in order to survive. Upon arrival to the Unites States in 1987, Anlor lived in Chicago, Illinois, where she married and had a son. The ensuing eighteen years of child-rearing, a tremendous challenge for an autistic mother, overwhelmed her and her life slowly but surely unraveled. Forever searching for answers to the challenges of an undiagnosed autistic life she moved to San Francisco, California, in 1999. There she started a Zen practice while she eventually became very ill and “hit bottom”. In March 2000 a painful and debilitating movement disorder appeared in her left upper body. Anlor was finally formally diagnosed in 2010. With proper medical care and many other supports her life improved unexpectedly and dramatically. This healthy outcome and Anlor’s later fullness of life give her a secure place to stand and reflect with greater clarity on her journey. She now lives near San Francisco with her partner, her son living nearby.


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Anlor (from Anne-Laure) Davin is autistic. She was diagnosed at age 46, a life-changing, and life-saving, event she traces to her Zen practice of the years preceding. Anlor is an immigrant, born in France in 1964. During Anlor’s childhood her native France was in the grip of oppressive and now discredited theories about autism. Anlor instinctively knew she had to flee France in order to survive. ...


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