of a woman with Asperger's Syndrome
with her teddy bear)
My Teddy Bear is the fascinating record of the author's journeys
undertaken with her beloved teddy Bearsac, through familiar
cites of Europe and regions as remote as China and Mongolia.
It is both a travelogue that expounds the joys and problems
of travelling through different countries and cultures, and
an illustration of the highs and lows of Asperger's Syndrome,
a condition characterized by issues with social and communication
skills, but also by such strengths as logic, focus and loyalty.
of Bearsac's trips:
America, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Sri Lanka, Holland, Hungary,
Croatia, Slovenia, Germany, Poland, Japan, Estonia, Latvia,
Russia, Mongolia, China and 4 days on the Trans-Mongolian train.
Born 1967, in
North London within a 'dysfunctional family', Debra boarded
at a 'Special Needs' school with her brother. Despite her schooling,
Asperger's syndrome - a high functioning form of Autism - was
not picked up. Unimpressed by mainstream employment and society
Debra found hope within the learning difficulty and disability
rights fields and more recently a voice within the Aspie community.
At 38 she was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome. This put her
life in to perspective and set her free. The combination of
two passions 'Bearsac' her beloved teddy bear and travel has
become the mainstay preoccupation and, like many Aspies, her
preoccupation has become more than just a hobby, thus this book.
© Debra Schiman 2008. A Pen Press Publication
free to click here to order on Amazon!
note this book is for adults and has a small amout of content
you may find unsuitable for children.
I would 'personally' give an 'advisory' rating.
please email reviews
putting book review in the subject line
This book was
written a year ago, and the travel~, ND (Neuro Diversity)~ and
SpLD (Specific Learning Differences) information provided is
certainly still as fresh and valuable today as it was then.
Fortunately, more awareness about ND/SpLD has lately been circulating
via the media, whether it's based on scientific/academic or
on 'circumstantial' evidence. The latter is the case in this
travel log book.
The author, Debra Schiman, diagnosed at the age of 38 with Asperger's
Syndrome (a high functioning form of Autism), has produced an
unusual and informative volume both for typical/normal as well
as a-typical or ND/SpLD readers. It's unusual in the way that
her inseparable travel companion, teddy bear 'Bearsac', contributes
to describing her experiences. Together, they demonstrate the
Asperger's way of processing information, socialising and communicating
while travelling to various European and exotic destinations.
Thus, they point out as well as unravel some of the mysteries
surrounding the challenges for people who travel alone in general
and for those with Asperger's Syndrome in particular.
This travel log, set out in chronological order, covers the
span of seven years from 2000, in which Debra and Bearsac visited
seventeen destinations, described in thirteen chapters. On the
one hand, this volume is practical as a guide book, regarding
the places that were visited. Many interesting sight seeing
highlights and/or tips are usually sprinkled randomly in each
chapter. On the other hand, Debra provides an insight into the
world of 'Aspies', as she calls them. In the first part of the
book she lets us discover the ways in which the Aspies, or a-typical,
neuro-diverse people are wired differently from the so called
'norm'. She achieves this through her descriptions of the way
she and Bearsac communicate and interact with 'natives' they
encounter in near and remote parts of the world. She also presents
the way they both react to or get involved in indigenous customs
and cultures. In the latter part of the volume she adds more
detailed explanations of Asperger's Syndrome symptoms, when
they arise; the strengths and weaknesses Aspies may demonstrate
and how 'typical' people might react in turn when meeting Aspies.
This interplay is fascinating and colourfully depicted in easily
readable style and often rich vocabulary. Finally, Debra also
reveals how her journeys with Bearsac have helped to set her
free in her travel through life by learning to do her own thing,
not to necessarily conform to the norm and to be happy that
(Book review by: Eleanor
May-Brenneker MA, Independent Neuro Diversity/SpLD Consultant)
is not the first to hook a travelogue on an essentially inanimate
object - comedian Tony Hawks once travelled round Ireland with
a fridge to win a bet - but what makes Schiman's new book distinct
is both the extent of her travels (taking in parts of the US,
several European countries and both Sri Lanka and Japan) and
her chosen "companion", a teddy bear rucksack which she has
developed into a character called Bearsac. "I know he is not
alive, but Bearsac has really become a live 'character' and
to not animate him would be to kill him," she explains at the
start - because this is very much about their travels together.
Over the years, Schiman has found the ways people react to her
companion both entertaining and revealing, but Bearsac has a
role to play with her own social and communication skills. The
real focus of the book, after all, is Schiman's personal insight
into the highs and lows of Asperger's Syndrome, particularly
when travelling in cultures quite different from her own. It's
this element that raises the book above being simply a glorified
travel diary with a quirky hook.
Able magazine - March 2009
I would like
to recommend Travels with my Teddy Bear by Debra Schiman to
be a cracking good read. It is informative throughout, moving
in parts, mainly amusing and sometimes laugh out loud hilarious.
I loved it and was rivetted.
As a Bearsac
fan since meeting him the Northern Line I had to buy the book
and am so pleased to have done so. It was great to hear about
Bearsac but it was excellent to hear how things are from Debra.
Even though it was not the central theme, I learnt more about
Asperger Syndrome from this book than medical books as it was
from a personal perspective of an adult. The traits come through
so clear, even when she does not say they are traits of the
condition. I adore her way of describing things, it's like I
can smell, taste and see them. She certainly is not the shy
type of Aspie and the people she meets in her travels seem to
gravitate to her because of her individuality.
Rebecca Spinstead - Morden
Wow! Loved the
book. The bit with the woman in Rome and the bit with the waiter
in the restaurant in China made me laugh so much I almost wet
Sam Marlow - Luton
I have read the
book twice and think it excellent. I think it must be so much
harder to travel when you have the problems with getting overloaded
by unfamiliar things going on in the environment. The book made
me think about how daunting it must be to travel alone with
these difficulties. I would be too scared to ever go abroad
on my own even with a teddy as streetwise as Bearsac!
Rebecca Cohen - Mill Hill
book: quirky, unique, funny, factually informative and great
to read about Asperger's in relation to travelling.
I have seen the organ grinder and his cats many times in Geneva,
as my work takes me there now and then, so it was great to read
about them in a book. I have just seen You Tube videos of him.
Toby Reeves-Johnson - Harpenden
I really enjoyed
this book. It was fascinating to read about how people with
Asperger's Syndrome experience things that don't bother or get
noticed by other people. People often assume that those with
Asperger's are shy and can't speak to people they do not know
well; so it was great that the book demonstrates the reverse.
I feel inspired to do some lone travel. Who knows, maybe I will
even take a teddy bear with me on my next holiday!
John Watson - Colindale
What a great
way to travel - alone with just a teddy bear! I now want to
take my dear old teddy on our summer hols, despite the shame
my teenage son will feel!
A superb read. The writing demonstrates a uniqueness only someone
on the autistic spectrum could posses; the drier humour might
be lost on some but the more obviously zany antics of Bearsac
and Debra are roll on the floor laughable. Imformative too.
Sam Rotwell - Coventry
The pages opened
me to a new outlook on life, one of freedom from the concerns
of what other people think. How free one can be in one's own
company, how free one can be from the stereotypes of a condition
or disability, how free one can be in being themselves. Next
time I meet a person making their teddy bear talk to people
on the bus I will not let my own insecurities bring out my judgemental
attitude. It was my curiosity about the ''mad'' woman on the
bus that found me on Bearsac's website and the wisdom that changed
my perspective and sold the book to me. Thank you Debra and
made me laugh so much that I got stared at many times by people
on the train to work; but now I have learnt not to worry about
being stared at by strangers and it's thanks to the author and
the way she presents herself in the book and on her website.
I so loved this
book, more than the other travel books I have read, for its
natural real-person perspective. I felt that I had shared part
of the life of a person on the autistic spectrum. But mostly
it gave me insight. My teenage stepbrother has autism and has
discomfort on family holidays so it was great to understand
what it might be like for him as he is not very verbally communitive.
Sally Hatton - Radlett
I have Asperger's
and this book has inspired me to travel.
Willam P Branson - Longbridge (Nr. Birmingham).
feeling the fear and doing it anyway, being free-spirited, not
worrying about others' prejudices - it all comes through in
this wonderful book.
Silvia Watson - Harrow
Of all the books
written by or about people on the autistic spectrum I have read,
I find this one breaks the mould. It does not follow the usual
s**t life full of barriers that have been amazingly overcome
by the misunderstood genius who can't make friends. But then
I guess Autistic Spectrum Disorders is not the main theme. The
book's strength, maybe, is in that that is its secondary theme.
The reader is not overwhelmed but is taken on a journey to understanding
without the 'obligation' to understand and accept but with the
gentle kiss that opens ones eyes to the sunrise of a better
Danielle C - Contae Chorcaí (County Cork) Ireland.
You really won't
believe this but I am actually ur BIGGEST fan ever!!! I work
in Borehamwood and half my work colleagues have seen u around,
I told them you were lovely and they have all read the book
lol, now you and bearsac are famous in my office lol!
Your book was absolutly hillarious, I loved it and my eyes were
glued, I usually take months to read a book but it only took
me a week on the buses to finish it! I really want a picture
with bearsac so I hope to bump into you soon!
Charlie x p.s. my brother has Aspergous syndrome and
u have helped me to understand it better thank u.
I love grisliness
of this book; the gory detail used such as: the use pumice stone
to rub away dead skin from her feet, cheeses like slabs of congealed
vomit, manky flesh torn bones, the pride she takes in the her
poo in the woods! It is an unconventional contrast to the pretty
details that arise randomly through her writing.
James Matthews - Peterborough
I love this book!
The book mainly deals with three subjects: travelling, talking
teddy bears and a condition called Asperger's Syndrome. It is
funny, touching and it includes an overwhelming amount of travelling
information. It's interesting to see how people react when they
meet a "talking" teddy bear in different countries. The book
made me think that we shouldn't judge too quickly what is normal
and what is not. I recommend this to anyone who has ever loved
a teddy bear and also to anyone who is addicted to travelling.
Johanna Lehikoinen, Finland
I bought this
book because I love teddies. I had not previously heard of Asperger's
Syndrome prior to reading the book and did not notice the subtitle
nor read the introduction until the first mention of having
Asperger's Syndrome within the later chapters. It then became
clear that what first appeared as slightly over-described descriptions
or reactions to everyday sensory stimuli that most people don't
notice was sensory impairment and is often experienced by people
with Asperger's. Despite these descriptions and it's subtitle
'Travelogues of a woman with 'Asperger's Syndrome' with her
teddy bear' Travels With My Teddy Bear neither begs for our
sympathy nor flaunts the triumphs of overcoming an impairment.
It simply demonstrates the elements that play a part in the
author's day-to-day life whether linked to Asperger's or not.
With newly acquired knowledge of Asperger's I then start to
feel that the traits bubble along gently not detracting from
the general theme of travelling through countries and cultures
that can be both daunting and satisfying for any lone traveller.
Trudy Bradshaw - Burnely
Through her averagely
written but engaging travel journals the author has brought
to light with this book some misconceptions of people with Asperger's
Syndrome in a 'see if you have the sight to' 'but engage anyway,
if you don't' forgivable and touching casualness. She does not
'tell' but 'casually evidences' that not all with the condition
on the autistic spectrum are held back by the traits and barriers
assumed to be impenetrable by 'meek victims of circumstance.'
The reader feels as though they walk with her and her beloved
teddy and share in a part of her take on life. Maybe not for
the discerning lover of literacy, but this book is certainly
worth a read if one is looking for something a little different,
informative and easy to read.
I have just finished
reading a wonderful book called "Travels with my Teddy Bear"
written by Debra Schiman. It is an account of the travels that
Debra has made with her trusted companion teddy bear/rucksack
Debra was diagnosed with "Asperger Syndrome" when she was 38;
Asperger Syndrome is a less severe form of autism. People suffering
from Asperger's can function pretty well in "normal life", but
sometimes they get overwhelmed when there is a lot of noise,
a specific smell or large crowds. Debra then puts in her earplugs
and digs her face into Bearsac, so she can smell his familiar
Debra and Bearsac
have travelled all over the world, even to Japan, Moscow and
Mongolia, often using the local public transport system; I really
admire their courage and, though there are often disappointments,
the book gives you a real good feeling. At times the book is
also very funny: especially when Bearsac tries to connect with
other people, animals or teddies the situations become hilarious.
One word of caution though: there is a very sad part at the
end of Chapter two (it had me shedding a few tears).
Peter and his teds Antwerp (Belgium)
I had the pleasure
of meeting Debra and Bearsac on my train a just over a month
ago and bought a signed copy there and then. Debra has Aspeger's
Syndrome however this is not a "wo is me" tale but a frank and
honest and very very funny travelogue of her travels alone (well
apart from Bearsac) around the globe. It is a fascinating insight
into the cultures of the many varied countries both in Western
and Eastern Europe, Mongolia, the Far East and Russia. I guarantee
it will make you laugh out loud many times and the style means
it is a great book for the train/bus/lunch break as the chapters
are broken into many separate paragraphs. Check out Bearsac's
website for more details of Debra and her bear (great photos
of him with many many celebs and on their travels). Definitely
worth a read and if you see them about don't be all British
and reserved but stop and say hi....plus have some sweets ready!
Wow - what a
book!! I love it. The information about the places you visit
is great. I feel as though I'd been there with you. It's so
clear and interesting. Also the book gives a great deal of insight
into what life with Aspergers Syndrome is like, and how you
deal with situations that I would probably find ok, but that
cause you to be disturbed. I have just ordered three more books
for people that I feel really must read this, either because
they have a relative with Aspergers or other conections with
it; or just because they love bears.
Eileen Priddy and Finlay (the bear)
My Teddy Bear is written in beautiful English. The sentences
are not just grammically correct but laced with humour and elegant
variation. Underlying the book is the deep sensitivity of the
teddy bear himself
(or possibly part of the author's psyche.)