I shared a poem recently and it came from this remarkable book by Dara McAnulty – Diary of A Young Naturalist. It is probably more about autism than nature. But I am stunned by the brilliance of this young autistic man whatever the intent of his writing. I’m left thinking perhaps it is the rest of us who are intellectually and emotionally deficient, not the autistic.

Would I rave about it if it was not by an autistic 16 year old? Maybe not quite so much; but, that is due more to the impact of revelation than an evaluation of the content. Dara paints the pages with his descriptions of and reactions to the common aspects of the natural world around his suburban Irish homes. I’ll certainly not think about autism or the natural world the same way again after being exposed to the brilliance of his reflective mind.

And beyond that, Dara simply nails it as he denounces the loss of species, of habitat, of biodiversity. His passion, while amplified by his autism, does not feel overwrought considering the impact of human development of the Earth’s vital systems.

One of the quotes on the cover is by Aimee Nezhukumatathill. “This book will change your life if you let it. Go on, let it.” I don’t know about life changing but my view of “common” nature and autism and the potential of young people has been altered in a good direction.

Carl Axelsen