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Another theme in the story is the abuse of the autistic child. Although Donna Williams provides some excuses for her mother's abusive treatment of her where she was embarrassed and overwhelmed by her daughter's behavior, there is no excuse for abusing an autistic child or any child. Not being aware of autism, a condition that gained recognition in later years, Donna's mother was hard-pressed to understand or have sympathy for the child who did not develop in the same way as her other children.