Iris Johansson (DOB: April 8. 1945) is a Swedish psychologist. Her case is unique. As a child, she was diagnosed with infantile autism. Though Iris’s father was just a simple Swedish farmer, he managed to take his daughter out of the autistic world. But what is more important, Iris remembers the reality she had been living in till the age of 12. Moreover, she has managed to describe it in her autobiographic book “Peculiar Childhood”.
For a long time, Iris was not able to learn how to dress herself, wash herself, clean her teeth or go to the toilet. Actually, she found no sense in all those actions. Her father spent several years trying to teach his daughter to eat without assistance. His efforts were not futile. Iris managed to eat her first sandwich at the age of seven.
Her father forced Iris to look into his eyes as long as possible to keep contact with her. He insisted that all the members of the family talked with her. He patiently explained Iris that it was better to touch an object or simply look at it rather than smell it…
Iris started comprehensive school at the age of 9, but during the first six months she could only hear singing voices and saw colorful words circling around the room. Her teacher tried to convince Iris’s father to transfer her to the specialized institution for retarded children. But her father stood firm. Fortunately, at the 5th grade Iris met the teacher who wasn’t afraid to waste his time and stood right in front of her explaining and repeating all the material for her. After the explanation, he asked her questions and wrote down her considerations. Then Iris had to rewrite those notes thus the teacher could evaluate her answers with a clear conscience. Due to this teaching method, Iris managed to finish school. She even entered the Institute and successfully graduated.
At her teens, she realized that she was getting more interested in people in “normal world” than in her own world, so she decided ‘to stay’ in our normal world. One day she noticed that some young boys and girls behaved unusually and she asked her parents about that. They explained to her what friendship and love meant, but she couldn’t understand the meaning of those feelings, so she just watched amorous twosomes and rehearsed facial expressions in front of the mirror. Later she got married and gave birth to a daughter but she didn’t feel any motherly love towards her. “Fortunately, I had a good husband and a kind family who took care of the girl”, Iris said.
Well, it is simply impossible to retell the whole book. I can only tell that I was stirred to the depths by this peculiar life story. I never doubted that life is a miracle. It’s amazing how miraculous life can be sometimes!