avid Patten was born in 1954 with a cognitive disorder (later diagnosed in the Autism Spectrum) that profoundly challenged his ability to process the world around him. Unable to concentrate or learn the basics of reading and writing, he withdrew into an inner world. Because he grew up in a time when his dysfunctions were not understood, David was labeled lazy, stupid, a troublemaker. He was blamed, punished, pathologized, and unable to get the help he needed. By the time he was a teenager, David had drifted into the dark underbelly of American life.
David attempted suicide at age fourteen, attended one of America’s most dangerous inner city schools for troubled youth, became a drug dealer in Chicago’s criminal underworld, and spent nine months as a virtual prisoner in an abusive experimental psychiatric home. He then spent fifteen years in a spiritual community where he practiced meditation and inquired into the very nature and inherent limitations of identity itself.
Eventually, David’s exceptional abilities in abstract and analytical thinking, and his acute observational skills, led him to become a highly sought-after crisis manager and trouble shooter traveling around the country debugging computer systems for major corporations and even U.S. military installations.
Told with the gripping power of a novel, Dummy offers a unique window on a troubled young man’s search for self-respect, independence, and love at all costs. David’s inspiring escape from the prison of cognitive disabilities offers unparalleled insight into the inner experiences of dyslexia and autism-spectrum disorder. His story of gradually transforming disabilities into skills, and hopelessness into freedom, and finally finding a grace that lit the darkened room of his existence, is a testament to the power of the human spirit.