Saturday, April 8, 2017

In a Different Key by John Donvan and Caren Zucker

In a Different Key by John Donvan and Caren Zucker is an extremely interesting book on autism.  The book manages to take a subject of which I had no direct knowledge of and hold my interest from the very first page.  The book begins by drawing the reader into it with the story of Donald a little boy growing up in Mississippi.  His mother, Mary was just exhausted with caring for him.  She kept him home which was not the norm of the 1930s but when he was joined by his little brother she begins to accept that maybe the doctor is right and maybe an institution would be good for him.  Beaman, his father is a very involved father especially of the 1930s but Donald was a boy who would not interact with anyone. If you tried to hug him he pulled himself away.  He rarely spoke to anyone and if he did answer a question it most likely had nothing to do with the question.  He appeared to enjoy being alone most of all.  Both parents agree he is not normal but are beside themselves for what to do.  Donald wouldn't eat, he preferred to wear no clothes, it seemed as if he couldn't feel the cold weather, and though at an early age he could sing many songs and recite from memory he quit talking to people in a meaningful way between 2-3 years old.  For a year Mary and Beamon left Donald in the institution but what few smiles Donald had they noticed were gone and finally Mary had enough and the family came back and took Donald home.  Still they struggled with all of Donald's oddities and didn't know what to do until Donald was given into the care of Dr. Leo Kanner.  Dr. Kanner eventually diagnosed Donald as "autistic disturbances of affective contact".  Donald was the first diagnosed case of what became known as autism.
The book then tells of other cases and scientific trials, exams, and treatments rounding out the progress of the treatment of autism until the present day.  The book holds the attention though I have only a passing acquaintance with the disorder I read many parts of the book 2 and 3 times because of the interesting way the authors have of telling the story.  I would recommend this book to any of those who have children with autism spectrum disorder or work/interact with these children.  This book explains many things of the difficulties that these children and their family faces on a daily basis in an honest and interesting way.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

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