A PLACE FOR NOAH by Josh Greenfeld
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Regrettably, the hope arising near the end of A Child Called Noah (1971) goes unrealized. ""To look at Noah. . . is to see all the chemistry and the electrical activity of the human brain untranslated and unregulated."" The Greenfelds' ""autistic"" son (they dispute the designation) remains unable to communicate in any consistently meaningful way, and their contempt for experts who claim to have solutions has escalated dramatically. Josh Greenfeld's journal of Noah's second five years again testifies to the family's ambivalent endurance. Days are full of chewed curtains, extra laundries (he's imperfectly toilet-trained), and agonizing recognitions. ""At best we're involved in a holding pattern over an airstrip we don't want to land on: the institution."" Behavior modification and megavitamins have failed as profoundly as previous therapies. Furthermore, their fair-weather researchers have moved on to other grants, leaving Noah virtually unimproved, his parents dismayed by such hollow humanity. Greenfeld prefers ""brain-damaged"" to the imprecise term ""autistic,"" and his recurrent run-ins with inexperienced professionals invariably pit his eyewitness understanding against their textbook cliches. Ultimately wife/mother Foumi organizes a daycare center that works; and through it all, Noah's elder brother Karl emerges as loving and remarkably clear-headed. Many possibilities are rejected but the search for a lifetime home continues; the sole remaining criterion--a place that will do the least harm. Although Greenfeld strikes a few false notes, his thoughts rarely settle into self-congratulation or self-pity. More eloquently than any formal study, he demonstrates the fatiguing routine and emotional seesaw of living with a child like Noah.

Pub Date: April 24th, 1978
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston