BAD ANIMALS by Joel Yanofsky


A Father's Accidental Education in Autism
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With self-deprecating humor and searing honesty, Montreal-based feature writer and book reviewer Yanofsky (Mordecai and Me: An Appreciation of a Kind,

2003, etc.) reveals the painful frustration and the powerful bond of love between him, his wife and their 11-year-old autistic son, Jonah.

The author explains why he decided to add his family's story to the massive collection of books already available on the subject: “The uninspiring everydayness of living with autism, its routine weirdness, its unbearable bearableness, its incremental ups and downs, is what so often gets unstated.” He writes of the pain of “coping and not coping at the same time,” and watching people, including himself, undervalue his son. Yanofsky relates the difficulty of knowing which experts to consult, whether to pursue dietary cures or behavioral therapy, even whether to consider the autistic spectrum as a disability or merely a different way of perceiving the world. At age 4, Jonah was diagnosed at the high end of the spectrum, and Yanofsky and his wife chose applied behavioral analysis therapy, an exacting discipline that requires parents to participate along with a therapy team. Stories about bad animals—the inspiration for the title—became metaphors shared by Jonah and his father as they discussed his behavior and the ups and downs of their relationship with each other. By the end of the book, Jonah has decided to rename the animals: “Worst-Monkey-Ever” became “Jumpy the Monkey,” and the monkey’s father, formerly “Worst-Daddy-Ever,” became “Grumpy the Daddy.”

An eloquent memoir of Jonah's sometimes-almost-imperceptible growth, increasing social skills and developing self-awareness that also addresses the broader issues involved with parenthood.

Pub Date: May 1st, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-61145-414-7
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Arcade
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2012


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