Friday, 18 May 2012 17:48

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.

Anyone who’s organized a bar or bat mitzvah, a communion, a sweet 16, even a relatively big birthday party knows how much there is to prepare. But when your child has autism, as Jonah does, the preparations never seem to end; nor does the worrying about everything that might go wrong. So, yes, it’s even money that on the day of his bar mitzvah Jonah will do something interesting. I’m betting that just as the rabbi is briefing him on the significance of this time-honored ritual, Jonah will give a shout-out to his favorite animals, yaks and zebras.

That’s Jonah’s move. He’s a sweet, lovable child who, quite regularly, says or does something we can’t explain to other people — something that will invariably seem kind of weird.

But then everyone around here is acting a little weird lately. Jonah’s Hebrew tutor, for instance, is concerned about his dropping the Torah, thus dooming us all to an Indiana Jones-style curse. My wife, Cynthia, has concluded that there are too many guests and too few tables. “Someone’s sitting on the floor,” she keeps muttering. As for me, I fall asleep humming the tune to “Que Sera Sera.”

Whatever will be, will be. Our new family motto. It marks a dramatic change from how our son has been raised for the last decade.

Read the rest of the article in the New York Times


Bad Animals: A Father’s Accidental Education in Autism

badanimalsJoel Yanofsky tried for years to start this memoir. "It's not just going to be about autism," he told his wife, Cynthia. "It's going to be about parenthood and marriage, about hope and despair, and storytelling, too." 

BC National Award for Non-Fiction Video

Joel Yanofsky at BC National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction

Click on the image to watch the video