I get sent a lot of books on The SEN Resources Blog to read and review, but this week I was sent a brilliant one that really caught my eye. It’s called Why is He Still Here? and it’s written by Max Toper. Max Toper is an eighteen-year-old author from London, at age five he was diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder. He is a qualified Cisco Certified Network Associate, a onetime community manager, and has enjoyed writing since the age of seven. Max has not only written the book himself but he’s also financed and published it himself too!
I’ve read the first few pages of his book so far and I must say, it is fantastic. I love Max Toper’s honesty and I strongly believe that his book will really help a lot of young people, parents and teachers. I’m really looking forward to finishing reading his book.
I asked Max Toper if he would write a Guest Post for The SEN Resources Blog, so he can explain why he wrote it. Here’s what he wrote:
To say, “Why is He Still Here?” my upcoming memoir, was a labour of pure love, would be, as they say, a massive understatement. I wrote about the rawness of my childhood, the trials and tribulations of my early adolescence, and had to fit it all into a book of acceptable length. Naturally, there were things that didn’t make the cut. And though I’m more than happy with the finished product, my outlook on the material, I wrote about changes every day.
I’ve concluded that this “changing outlook,” is part and parcel of growing up—which is one of the books leading undercurrents. When I got asked to write this blog, I expected to come away with a description of my book not unlike anything I’ve said before. But one thing led to another, and I ended up scouring old memories and physical memorabilia that helped me write the book.
Having now finished the project, I perceived them differently than I did while still writing. Some old messages from my online escapades made my stomach turn, whereas others I looked upon in a fond new light. My old Ipod nano still has a crack in its screen, one obtained from a nasty fall out of my similarly worn purple-school bag. All these objects, they represent a whole other universe, one where I never thought I’d be the person I am today.
I’ve learned that it’s easy to look back on only the trials and tribulations of the times I wrote about. But the small things, like the random-screenshots I took with my guild online; or the countless monopoly games I played with my former teaching assistants are just as important. These small memories all add up and create an atmosphere of an era, one I appreciate more and more than I look back—despite its flaws.
As I always say to people, my answer to why I wrote “Why is He Still Here?” changes every day. Today my answer is simple, I wanted to take the tooth and claw worlds of special-needs education and the online game I played out into the open, hoping people will emerge from the book with a changed outlook on both.