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FOLLOWING EZRA by Tom Fields-Meyer

FOLLOWING EZRA

What One Father Learned About Gumby, Otters, Autism, and Love from His Extraordinary Son

By Tom Fields-Meyer

Pub Date: Sept. 6th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-451-23463-6
Publisher: NAL/Berkley

A father celebrates his son’s differences and advises others on how to view autism as a parallel journey rather than a restrictive label.

Chronicling son Ezra’s toddler years through his bar mitzvah, journalist Fields-Meyer (Business Mensch: Timeless Wisdom for Today’s Entrepreneur, 2009, etc.) approaches autism from a topical perspective, creating a loving tribute that favors “following” his son’s interests instead of imposing behavioral or social expectations. Subjects range from the initial diagnosis to Ezra’s deep enchantment with animals, and from learning to read to the rewards and challenges of parenting a child who is spirited and unfiltered in his expressions. This is not the average medical memoir concerned with educating the public, nor does it trace a common tragedy-to-triumph trajectory; the author strongly emphasizes supporting Ezra himself over the condition. Advised early on to “grieve for the child he didn’t turn out to be,” Fields-Meyer quickly realized that there was nothing to grieve, and no sense of blame. Together with his wife and Ezra's brothers, he adapted to life at a slower pace, allowing frustration and wonderment alike to play out naturally. Characteristics of autism, which can include repetition, fixation, facial nuances, lessened eye contact and a superb memory for obscure minutiae are not treated as symptoms to normalize but as opportunities to enter Ezra’s world—whether that means learning the running times of animated films or appreciating honest insights.

Determinedly upbeat, the author depicts parenting with grace and every child as a gift.