THERE'S A BOY IN HERE: A Mother and Her Son Tell the Story of His Emergence from Autism by Judy & Sean Barron Barron

THERE'S A BOY IN HERE: A Mother and Her Son Tell the Story of His Emergence from Autism

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An unusual point/counterpoint journal by a mother and her son, chronicling the painful years the son suffered from autism and his remarkable recovery. Rob and Judy Barron's first child was born autistic. From infancy, Sean was totally unresponsive to direction and affection. He was also hyperactive, destructive, and full of rage. In her frustration and bewilderment, Judy responded by screaming, threatening, and spanking. When the Barrons finally sought help, the professionals argued what was then the party line about childhood autism: that it was caused by ""refrigerator parents,"" especially an unfeeling mother. (Current thinking is that the cause is probably biochemical.) Medication, behavior modification, and institutionalization were recommended. The Barrons eventually tried all three but preferred having Sean at home. Both parents believed that behind the bizarre behavior was a terrified but normal child. Although age and academic success--he was able to attend public school--modulated Sean's behavior, it was not until he was 17 that the real Sean emerged. He graduated from high school, went on to college, and is now living on his own, with a responsible job. Sean's story is told in stereo, through interspersed paragraphs by mother and son. Judy is heroically honest about her own lack of control. Sean, whose memories go back to toddlerhood, makes clear how pleased he was by repetition--e.g., switching lights on and off; how angry he got when his arbitrary ""rules"" were violated; and how frightened he became when a comfortable pattern--for instance, the order of school buses lined up at the end of the day--was disturbed. What cured him? It's not clear: perhaps his mother's bulldog determination that he could be rescued, the shock of puberty, some reconnected neurons--or a combination of all three. This book offers hope but no plan for reclaiming other autistic lives. Notable for its window into the thoughts and feelings of an autistic child--and for its gratifyingly happy ending.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1992
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster