Population One: Autism, Adversity, and the Will to Succeed
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Teen launches Kickstarter to fund book about his life with autism (From www.thenewstribune.com) [A newspaper company]

Tyler McNamer didn’t start to speak in full sentences until he was about 10, his father, Jody, remembers. Now, as a senior in high school, Tyler has written an entire book, an exploration of his life with autism.

“Instead of speaking, writing was the way he always expressed himself,” Jody said.

The book, “Population One: Autism, Adversity and the Will to Succeed,” took Tyler a few years to write. In it, he details his experiences and perspectives from someone diagnosed with autism at 18 months old.

“Because this book is about my life with autism, I want to show people what it’s like to be inside an autistic mind,” Tyler said. “To show people and to help people.”

The manuscript is now complete, and the McNamers have created a project on Kickstarter.com, the crowd-sourced funding website for independent books, films, businesses and more. Their goal is $25,000, to be raised by May 26, to fund the book’s printing, distribution and an online monthly magazine, called Autism Works, that would feature writing from other autistic teens and adults.

“They have so much to teach us,” Jody said about his son and others with autism. “When you read the book, it’s full of stuff you’d never think about. It’s brilliant.”

McNamer lives in Gig Harbor but attends Bainbridge High School, where his mother lives and where he’d developed a comfortable community at school. He grew up speaking little, first uttering recognizable words when he was about 6.

Tyler wrote down his thoughts in a notepad he carried with him at school and remembers first being captivated by a writing assignment in third grade. From there, Tyler slowly started to develop an individual voice, along with, as his father described it, a progression toward understanding that he viewed the world differently than did most others.

In the past three or four years, Tyler said his writing has taken off as he sought to articulate that worldview.

“One of my challenges has always been finding my words and putting them together,” Tyler said.

More than 40,000 words later, and after working with a publishing coach, editor and cover art designer, Tyler’s book is ready for distribution. The McNamers hope their Kickstarter fund can offset some of the costs of those services, as well as help with the primary goal of getting “Population One” into schools.

“We want to help teachers understand how to help kids with autism,” Jody said.

He added he thinks his son has tapped into something both important and unusual that will be of real assistance to educators and others who want to reach out to those with autism.

“It’s hard to find someone who can actually verbalize what it’s like to have an autistic mind,” Jody said, describing as an example scenes in the book about Tyler’s photographic memories from when he was only 11 months old. “And Tyler has that ability.”

Tyler said the title “Population One,” explains a perspective he’s come to in reflecting on his life with autism, and how it can serve as a lesson for all readers.

“For a lot of years, Tyler spent a lot of time in his own world, and he’s come to the realization that he can interact with others,” Jody said. “We all struggle with that, to have tolerance and acceptance for everyone.”

“Everyone has their own little world, a population of one,” Tyler said. “But no one is ever alone, and they can choose to share in someone else’s world. There’s only one universe. That’s what I’m trying to say with this book.”

The “Population One” Kickstarter project had 57 backers and had raised a total of $3,681 as of press time. Click here to visit the Kickstarter page, and here to visit Tyler’s website and personal blog.

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