Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Mozart and the Whale

One of the things I'm going to do to generate book content is write up some reviews of books I've read recently on autism and related topics. Here's my first.

Mozart and the Whale: An Asperger's Love Story
By Jerry Newport, Mary Newport, Johnny Dodd
Simon & Schuster, 2007

This autobiography is written from the separate perspectives of Jerry and Mary Newport, two individuals with Asperger's Syndrome, who met in their middle years, fell in love, separated, and reunited. The book goes much farther back in both their lives, though, giving readers a glimpse into the lives that shaped these two people.

This book is valuable reading for parents of children with autism for at least one reason: your children will not always be children. They will grow up into adults, and as such they will be dealing with the desires and demands of the adult world. The Newports, especially Jerry, are unflinchingly honest about their romantic and sexual experiences. It's a valuable examination of the subject of sexuality and disability. It's an understatement to say that this subject is underexamined; most of the time it is ignored completely.

For anyone else, this book is just good reading. The stories Jerry and Mary share range from funny to uplifting to tragic to downright terrifying. Jerry's stories resonate with me because I know that my son will face many of the same kinds of frustrations and anxieties that Jerry experienced. Mary's stories simply amaze me. This woman ran away to Haight-Ashbury at the age of 15. Her parents placed her in the custody of a religious cult that eventually abandoned her and her newborn baby in Europe. And that's really just the beginning of her stories. It's amazing that she lived through it, and her unique perspectives are equally amazing--sometimes shocking.

Their story was made into a movie in 2005--I'm going to have to add that to my Netflix.

Update on, well, everything

I thought for sure I hadn't posted anything in almost a year--turns out it has only been six months! Yay for me.

I figured I should provide a little update on what's going on in our lives, autism-wise and otherwise, so here's a short summary.
  • We're all healthy, no more or less wealthy, and surprisingly wise.
  • Evie has recently been assessed as having "mild autistic symptoms." That's nothing to be alarmed about--basically, she has a speech delay and she gets really focused on what she's doing (and really irritated when she has to stop). She has already been receiving some services, and she's on the waiting list for a couple of preschool programs.
  • Henry is wrapping up the year at Carmen B. Pingree preschool. He has completed the Level 1 attending program and--cross your fingers--appears to be getting the idea of toilet training! He will start preschool at Carmen B. Pingree this fall.
  • I am trying to figure out what I am going to do with Henry for the next 8 weeks until kindergarten starts.
  • I am also working on a book for parents of children with developmental disorders. It's a survival guide to caring for yourself, your family, and your child. The outline in flux, but I am working on producing content and I'll fix up the shape later.
That's the short version. As part of my book effort, I'm going to try to write blog posts more often to help me generate content.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The last word on vaccines ... for a while

OK, I'm running the risk of beating a dead horse here, but I just stumbled across the best summary I've seen on why the vaccine debate is a non-debate. I don't know a lot about the writer of A Free Man blog, but the post is extensively hyperlinked to original news stories. The piece he found showing that Dr. Anderw Wakefield, the scientist who first touched off this powderkeg, received payment from a law firm who represented the subjects of his study, is news to me, and shakes the already-wobbly foundations of the vaccines-cause-autism argument.

Folks, this mistaken belief is leading to a public health crisis. But it appears that American children and adults will have to start dying from measles before opinions on this topic change. And for that reason, I'm not ashamed to beat this dead horse.