Cleaning Bookshelves….

In the early Autism days, I would stay up till 2-3am reading autism books and researching on the Web. The stress of Autism itself would be exhausting and the urge to read and read till the wee hours of the morning turned me into an insomniac. It got to a point where the insomnia was so bad that my husband and I had to make an agreement that we don’t talk about autism after 7pm. I don’t read, do research or try to think about autism (though that was super hard!) after 7pm. This forced us to have a cooling-off period and actually enjoy the rest of the evening together after the kids were in bed. Just like my rule not to drink anything containing caffeine after 1pm, I just can’t go to sleep easily at night after that.

So as part of managing life with Autism, combined with the effort to recover our kids, we also have to manage our own emotional and mental health. Once in a while, we have to do a spring clean so to speak. And we have to maintain a daily cleansing regime, otherwise you end up with too much emotional baggage and not enough strength left to nourish yourself, your soul and your relationships.

As part of my ‘agreement’ with my darling hubby to justify the price of the iPad, I promised to no longer buy printed books. Only online versions from Kindle Amazon or iBooks. Also, our small apartment was getting cramped and space is a premium. Every few months, we had to do a spring clean especially with our bookshelves. Being a prolific reader (I read 3-4 books at a time) I could spend countless hours in the bookstore and buy books by the bucketload. When Autism arrived at our doorstep, my love for Sci-Fi/Fantasy and chick-lit books were replaced by Autism books.

Though I love my books, at times I had to give them away to friends and family. I tried selling them off, but we were offered RM3.00 per kg. I’d rather my beloved books go to a loving home than being part of a mouldy dusty heap in a 2nd hand shop. Anyway, back to Autism books. Of course, I couldn’t give away my special-order special delivery Autism books, they are far too precious. Plus I found that I would read and reread them over and over. But we were running out of space, it was getting ridiculous!

Bookshelf crying out for help!

Our one bookcase was crammed with my collection of Sci-Fi books, the chick-lits that I couldn’t bear to be parted with, numerous autism books, May’s ABA program notes, both girls’ medical test reports, conference notes, ASD products literature, leftover jars of supplements and naked hardcover books because the girls love to take the dust jackets off. Not to mention hubby’s serious non-fiction books. He used to hide my girly books behind his books out of embarrassment when people came to visit!

I wonder what a psychiatrist would say if he ever took a peek at my bookshelf. Does this represent a chaotic sociopathic mind? Or merely a typical Autism mum who is juggling countless balls in the air kinda bookcase?

Look how thin the Kindle is

So ever since I bought my first iPad in April 2010, I have never bought a printed book ever since. Then I was given a lovely Kindle as a present from a close friend. And I’ve never broken my promise to my hubby for I don’t even browse in bookstores anymore. I can get my books downloaded wirelessly in a minute. I no longer have to wait for ages before a book I like to be sold in local bookstores. And I no longer have to pay delivery charges when purchasing from overseas. I also loved the convenience of having all my books at hand wherever I go. No more having to lug around heavy books in my handbag any more.

In Malaysia, you can purchase books online from Kinokuniya or from MPH . Both bookstores can deliver to your home for an affordable fee. If your book is not in stock, you can also ask the store to order them in for you. No more wasting time going from shop to shop looking for that obscure ASD book.

For overseas purchase, I usually purchase from Amazon. Some parents prefer to purchase online from Better World Books as the delivery charges are lower than Amazon. If you can’t afford to buy books, don’t forget the great list of books on loan from ANDI Initiative. ANDI’s list of books are ever growing and provide a great free resource for parents in Malaysia.

For ebooks, if you don’t have a Kindle or an iPad, you can also download the Kindle app on your laptop, PC and even your smartphone (if you can read from a screen that small)



I recently finished reading a couple of the books I won at the raffle at Autism One. I already have the first book Cutting Edge Therapies for Autism 2010-2011. But I won the latest book 2011-2012 and found it to be even better than the first one. This is a book worth reading for everyone whether you are new or seasoned to autism.

I’ve never been a big fan of Nutrition books per se, however I found the Special-Needs Kids Go Pharm-Free a wonderful read. I like Judy Converse’s point of view as a dietitian. Rather than being a proponent of too-limiting diets, she takes a wholesome view of nutrition for our kids. And reading of nutrition, this also remind me to take my fish oils, minerals and antioxidants! So don’t forget to nurture your soul and your body.

Stop and smell the flowers

So what’s this I call emotional spring cleaning? It’s when my mind gets too cluttered, when there’s too much conflict in my innermost thoughts, when I feel like I can’t think rationally and clearly. I find that I need to clean out the excess baggage, to get rid of the cobwebs and binding chains that hold me back. When things get too much, I take a little time-out to regroup my thoughts, to find balance and inner harmony. At times, this is frigging hard especially when we feel that we are living in a whirlwind tornado that is called autism. For me, part of the clean-up process includes cleaning out the bookshelf (as you can see, that’s long overdue), going for a Thai massage (the deep tissue massage and acupressure really takes my mind to a level of peace) , reading a non-autism book once in a while and going on date nights with hubby. I also like to travel when I can. Each of us have different coping mechanisms, different stratagems to emotional spring-cleaning. My girls exemplify this perfectly, they stop to smell the flowers. In doing so, they force me to stop and take a deep breath too. I’m going to hold off cleaning out my bookshelf for yet another day. Instead, I’m going to play with my girls, for that’s the best therapy ever. For there’s always lots of love, laughter and joy…..

3 thoughts on “Cleaning Bookshelves….

  1. You can get more out of a bookcase if you lay your books down flat instead of standing them up. Your books won’t warp either.

  2. Pingback: The Goosebump Parade | Spectrum Mum in Malaysia

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