A CHILD CALLED NOAH: A Family Journey by Josh Greenfeld
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We will have him in our home and find ways to live in joy with him. And when I cannot enjoy him as much as I would like to, I will love him even more."" Him is Noah, the Greenfelds' second, autistic child (""an actuarial speck. . . a genetic smudge"") and this is a diary account of the Greenfelds' first five and hardest years with him. It is much more vulnerable than Clara Park's excellent The Siege (1967) or Robin White's Be Not Afraid (p. 314). In fact Greenfeld doesn't quite understand the stoicism of other parents who have written about their experiences; there is very little of the above living ""in joy"" with the constant latrine detail and up-all-night messes and tantrums. Every day there may he some sign of hope; every other day they think of institutionalizing him since Greenfeld and his wife Foumi haven't the physical or psychic energy to cope with him and the situation exhausts their own relationship. At first Noah just seems more beautiful than other babies (autistic children are), gentler, more opaque, perhaps only a ""floppy baby."" Months and many tests later reveal that he will never be anything except severely retarded, whatever semantic or diagnostic distinction is made. They try two forms of therapy which in time, or is it time?, seem to help a little -- a megavitamin regimen and operant (reward) conditioning -- the latter with the help of a program out of UCLA. At the end of the five years there is definite hope for them all -- Noah is manageable and livable. Mr. Greenfeld writes exceptionally about this child ""wandering through his own captionless comic strip, one that lacked a last panel"" and the book has the most intimately involving appeal of any that we have lived through.

Pub Date: May 22nd, 1972
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston