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Wilmington mom writes children's book about Asperger syndrome

Star-News - 6/16/2018

June 16--The N.C. Blueberry Festival in Burgaw is terrific fun, but most folks wouldn't think of it as a literary event.

This year, though, the festival served as a launch pad for a new local children's book: "I'm Not Just Different ..." by Allison Davis Demming of Wilmington.

"I'm Not Just Different ..." was featured Saturday in a special fundraiser at the Depot Museum in downtown Burgaw, along with other titles from Demming's publisher, Cool Water Ripple Books of Lockhart, S.C.

Demming has family roots in Pender County. "My grandmother, Edith Sherman, worked at the Pender County Library for 25 years," she said. "She was the Bookmobile Lady." In memory of her grandmother, Demming donated all proceeds from sales of her book during the festival to the Pender library, and her publisher chipped in funds as well.

"I'm Not Just Different ..." is framed as a picture book, but it has a message for parents as well. Demming explained that it's the true story of her son, Alex, who turns 30 later this summer.

"All his teachers said he was a bright little boy, but he was just ... different," Demming said. "We couldn't put our finger on it."

For one thing, Alex would scream when things grew too loud or too confusing. "He was overstimulated, and he couldn't explain it to us," Demming said.

It wasn't until Alex was in fifth grade that he was finally diagnosed as having Asperger syndrome, a developmental disorder sometimes described as a mild form of autism, although some psychologists object to that classification. Others interpret it as a different way of thinking. Asperger's patients are often highly intelligent -- Hans Asperger, the Austrian pediatrician who first described the condition, sometimes called his subjects "little professors" -- but may have difficulties in relating to others.

Alex's story has a happy ending. He eventually earned a master's degree in creative writing from East Carolina University, and he now works with the local comedy troupe Pineapple-Shaped Lamps.

"I'm Not Just Different ..." sells for $20 and can currently be ordered through the Cool Water Ripple website. Demming said the book should be available through, starting sometime in July, and it will soon be available at Redix locations downtown and at Wrightsville Beach.


Paul E. Hosier, the former provost at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, is now retired as a botany professor, but he's keeping his hand in. The University of North Carolina Press will release his guidebook, "Seacoast Plants of the Carolinas" ($28 paperback), on June 25.

The 504-page illustrated volume includes detailed profiles of more than 200 plants, including their value to wildlife, relationship to natural communities and landscape use. A separate section details the impact of climate change on the coastal zone and its plants. Gardeners, landscapers and nature lovers in general are part of its target audience.

Reporter Ben Steelman can be reached at 910-343-2208 or


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