Acceptance of diagnosis leads to a novel experience in Speaking Human

Life in words: Illawong's Gabriel Nakhl and the book Speaking Human, a true story of survival, determination and a mission to pursue understanding of humanity. Picture: John Veage
Life in words: Illawong's Gabriel Nakhl and the book Speaking Human, a true story of survival, determination and a mission to pursue understanding of humanity. Picture: John Veage

A story of suicide to survival, with a mathematics degree on the side for fun, is the life penned through flowing chapters in Speaking Human.

Ghost-written in reflection of Illawong’s Gabriel Nakhl, the book, which was published last year, tells the biographical journey from diagnosis to realisation.

It is a true depiction of an undiagnosed autistic savant, Mr Nakhl, 37, who discovered the intricate weaves of human behaviour.

This came off the back of years of bullying, among other misadventures, until a fork in the road narrowed, and within two years Mr Nakhl completed a maths degree and learnt Italian in about a day.

He was diagnosed four years ago. He since completed an honours research project at Charles Sturt University on the origins of dark matter.

“It all started when my world started to collapse about six years ago,” he said.

“I couldn’t understand why my life had been unusual. I didn’t believe my diagnosis, so I began to test myself. 

“I subscribed to the hardest thing I could find – a maths degree. I topped uni the course. Then learnt Arabic script in 15 minutes. There was a moment of clarity, and I focused on trying to understand people and how to speak to them.”

Proceeds from the book are also being contributed to Autism Australia.

“This bookis for people who have high-functioning autism, but who don’t know. It shows how disastrous life cn be. It’s also for families who have people they care for on the spectrum.”

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