31 Jul 2014

The Kids Who Don’t Beat Autism

The following is an excerpt from an article published in the New York Times as part of the Motherlode section.

The other day a stranger called our house, out of the blue, to discuss my son Jonah’s health. He’d seen my memoir about our family and autism in the library and he wanted to know if I’d heard about a treatment that was getting remarkable results. Something to do with ocean water, he explained.

Incidentally, this sort of unsolicited heads-up isn’t as unusual as you would think. Not for me or any parent of a child on the autism spectrum. We’ve heard it all — from gluten-free diets to hyperbaric chambers. We’ve learned to tune it out, most of it anyway. But some trace of the miracle-cure talk echoes; it can’t be unheard. Ocean water, huh? As it happens, I told my mystery caller, we’re going to Maine next month.

I could have kicked myself.

11 Apr 2014

The Sixth Stage of Grief: Buying a Puppy

The following is an excerpt from an article published in the New York Times as part of the Motherlode section.

Last fall, I received a puppy for my birthday. The gift, from my wife, Cynthia, was welcome, even if it came around 50 years too late.

Still, the undiluted joy I’m sure I would have felt as, say, a 6-year-old has been undermined by a nagging grownup question: What were we thinking, getting a dog? Probably, we were thinking – without realizing it at the time – that this has been a difficult year for our family.

Those difficulties began but didn’t end with our son, Jonah, who has autism and just turned 15. Social interaction, always a challenge for him, has become considerably more challenging during his teenage years. We figured he could use a friend. He is not only isolated from his peers these days, but he is also increasingly isolated from Cynthia and me. Jonah’s door is closed an awful lot and his self-imposed exile, not that unusual for any teenager, has still been hard to adjust to. Some days, I find myself staring at that door, wondering what happened to our adorable little boy.

07 May 2013

Autistic and Coming (Reluctantly) of Age

The following is an excerpt from an article published in the New York Times as part of the Motherlode section.

In the last few months, my 14-year-old son, Jonah, has grown taller than his mother. Which means just one thing: I’m next. In our below-average-size family, this doesn’t exactly qualify him for March Madness; still, it should be cause for celebration.

Jonah isn’t celebrating. Instead, he seems to be finding the prospect of growing up unsettling.

A lot of us do, but, in Jonah’s case, the mysteries of getting older are combined with the even more confounding mysteries of having autism. So while other kids are likely to take your word for it that growing up is a simple fact of life, Jonah is skeptical. Occasionally, he even expresses a desire to be short again, which probably explains why he asks his mother to stand on tiptoes whenever she’s next to him.

27 Nov 2012

‘Far From the Tree’ and the Literature of Autism

The following is an excerpt from an article published in the New York Times as part of the Motherlode section.

On a recent road trip, my son, Jonah, and I outvoted my wife, Cynthia, winning the right to listen to Steely Dan’s “Greatest Hits.” This provided Cynthia with time to fashion a pointed critique of the songs Jonah and I were happily singing along to.

“This music’s slick and vacuous,” she pronounced during “Dr. Wu.”

“Exactly,” I said. “We’re guys. We love ‘slick and vacuous.’”

These days, I’m drawn to anything my son and I can enjoy together. He’s about to turn 14 and has autism – two factors that increase, exponentially, the ways in which his brain works differently than mine.

12 Sep 2012

Special Needs Conference -- September 13th

Marla Vineberg Emery kindly invited me to speak at her Special Needs Fair on September 13th at the Hilton Airport Hotel in Montreal at 6500 Cote de Liesse, time is 12:30. the conference runs from 10 to 8. please check it out and come hear me if you have a chance. Cynthia and I also had the opportunity to speak to pediatric residents at the Montreal Children's Hospital the other day. Thanks for the invite to Dr. Shuvo Ghosh. It was illuminating for us and we hope the audience. Cynthia's wish list for parents also gets a shoutout in the New York Times in the Motherlode Website. Thanks to KJ Della'antonio for posting it and posting the link to this website. We love being in the Times.

24 Aug 2012

Sending a Child With Autism to Sleep-Away Camp

The following is an excerpt from an article published in the New York Times as part of the Motherlode section.

My 13-year-old son Jonah and his new best friend, Sebastian, were in the pool the other day, armed with Styrofoam water guns, when things escalated. I wasn’t there, but my wife, Cynthia, told me the story later. It seems Jonah was getting the worst of the shootout and after a while Sebastian’s mother suggested her son go easy. He didn’t. I’m guessing the fact that Jonah found the whole thing hilarious played a part in his friend persisting. But Sebastian also had another, more big-hearted reason for drenching my son.

“I have to toughen him up,” Sebastian told his mother when she warned him to listen one last time.

14 Jun 2012

Father’s Day, With Autism: Rethinking the Cool Dad

The following is an excerpt from an article published in the New York Times as part of the Motherlode section.

The cover story in the June issue of Wired magazine, celebrating geek dads, is ruining my Father’s Day. It’s got me thinking: should I be doing more?

Like building a hovercraft, dissecting a baseball, making gummy worms glow or instilling “an empowering worldview” in my child. These are just a few of the activities suggested in Wired’s “guide to being the coolest father on the planet.”

“Breathe,” my wife, Cynthia, says when I ask her what “an empowering worldview” might be. “Relax and breathe.”

23 May 2012

Bad Animals on Amazon's Top 10 List

As of May 23, 2012, Bad Animals is one of the top 10 books on Amazon's list of Hot New Releases in Autism & Asperger's Syndrome.  Check out the list here.

18 May 2012

A Bar Mitzvah, With Autism

The following is an excerpt from an article published in the New York Times as part of the Motherlode section.

It should be interesting.

At least, that’s what I’ve been telling guests in advance of my son Jonah’s impending bar mitzvah. Sometimes, I wish we’d added this phrase — part disclaimer, part promo — to the invitations that went out a couple of months ago.

01 Apr 2012

Spring news

Some news for the spring. Bad Animals comes out in paperback on April 3rd, but has already been spotted in Costco of all places. Feel like Suzanne Collins. Also American readers can look for Bad Animals in the U.S. from Arcade Publishers. I have been doing a lot of teaching lately to everyone from 12 and 13 year olds high school kids to Cegep students, University and mature students and the same message keeps coming through -- there is no end to the personal stories people have to tell and want to tell. I've enjoyed getting them to begin to believe they can tell those stories. Along those same lines I wrote a personal story about Passover in the March 31st Montreal Gazette. Oh yeah, Happy April 1st, everyone! Alas, nothing in this post is a joke. Not even the bit about Costco.

 

 

 

 

 

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