Welcome back. For the month of April, we have chosen to read Songs of the Gorilla Nation by Dawn Pince-Hughes.
Initially written in 2004, Prince-Hughes discusses her personal journey and struggles with undiagnosed autism spectrum disorder. For those who are unfamiliar with Autism, it is generally characterized as a developmental disability which impacts an individual’s communication abilities, social interactions, and in some cases an individual’s behaviors. At age 16 the Prince-Huges experiences a brief episode of homelessness. Prince-Hughes shares how a move to a new state and severe bullying which included both physical and mental abuse led to drinking, depression, and spiraled into homelessness. Prince-Hughes also shares how she found understanding and social connectedness in the Gorilla nation and how this helped her find stability in an otherwise chaotic situation.
In the United States, there is anecdotal evidence which suggests that individuals who are diagnosed with autism or who are noted to have autistic traits have an increased risk of experiencing homelessness. In our region, 5% of individuals who are experiencing homelessness are also diagnosed with a developmental or cognitive disability. Although every circumstance is unique, we chose this story to open a discussion about homelessness and cognitive and developmental disabilities and the unique challenges that individuals who experience both may face.
I look forward to reading along with you and discussing Songs of the Gorilla Nation in more detail later this month.