read: 13 December 2005
Susan Senator had noticed that I have read a lot of books about autism and sent me a copy of her book. It’s the story of her family grappling with the diagnosis and reality of their oldest son Nat’s autism. Senator gives a warts-and-all play by play of her family learning techniques for dealing with their son and learning to have some sort of a happy life despite being a somewhat reluctant non-traditional family. This was the part of the book that I found the most interesting. Senator clearly had some notions of what parenting would be like and what life with her husband would be like, raising a family, living someplace nice, etc. When that all gets thrown on its ear, at a time before autism diagnoses were so prevalent, she has to reinvent the wheel and choose a new path. Her stories of trying to both come to terms with her new life herself, and then learning to become a powerful advocate for the needs of her oldest son and the emotions of her two younger sons is poignant and an interesting read.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell if this book is trying to be a self-help guide for parents in similar circumstances to Senator and her family, or more of a tell-all about the difficulties of raising an autitic child. Sometimes Senator’s raw emotions and venting-sounding frustrations can be hard to read. As someone who doesn’t really contemplate parenthood, I sometimes had a hard time understanding some of her choices and decisions -- giving a bar mitzvah for a child who pretty well seemed to not comprehed it, for example -- but she does a great job explaining herself, so even if at the end you don’t see eye to eye with her, you can still understand where she is coming from. She and her husband both have blogs [hers, his] which are excellent companion reading.
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