A mother and her autistic son offer a mixture of self-help manual, memoir, and treatment guide.
Debut author Jon Wallace was considered a miracle baby. Born later in his parents’ lives, after his father had a vasectomy, Jon initially seemed to be a typical little boy. His mother, Ann (The Bridge: Think of These Things, 2016, etc.), and her husband, Larry, attributed Jon’s sleep difficulties and occasional behavioral problems to their own overindulgent parenting. By the time Jon was in preschool, they realized they needed to determine what special arrangements he required. Although his diagnosis of autism was surprising and heartbreaking, Ann had more difficulty reconciling her feelings of guilt for not obtaining early intervention services sooner. She traces her experiences in finding the right schools and teachers to help Jon flourish, recounting her journey from timid soul to lioness. While Jon had some missteps—such as trusting a guru who didn’t have his best interests at heart—he developed some abiding interests, like martial arts and spirituality, that provided stability. Now in his late 20s, Jon, with the love and support of his parents and others, has settled into an independent, productive life. This engrossing book is divided into five main parts: Early Years, Middle Years, Present, My Research, and Summation. While the first three sections read more like a memoir, the fourth, focusing on research, deftly summarizes Ann’s extensive body of knowledge on suspected contributing causes to autism (and a host of health problems). For the most part, Ann, a songwriter and therapist, presents the material dispassionately, although her opinions can be discerned. Nonetheless, her balanced approach is a striking departure from some books on autism. She also includes, in full, an article on the overuse of the diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome. Although Jon is credited as co-author, his most visible contributions are a few chapters solely written by him, although his memories undoubtedly informed much of his mother’s well-written and accessible narrative.
Despite its lack of new information, this intriguing book presents advice in a reassuring, approachable manner, providing hope to parents and others caring for children with autism.