Monday, October 3, 2011

Review and Give-Away: Seeing Ezra

I recently had the pleasure of reading Seeing Ezra: A Mother's Story of Autism, Unconditional Love, and the Meaning of Normal by Kerry Cohen. Through Cohen's parenting memoir, we meet Ezra, a little boy on the spectrum who will remind you quite a bit of Ryan - cute, charming, armed with a bucket of animals and letters. Like this blog, Cohen's story is less about her son and his challenges than it is about her - as a mother, as a wife, as a woman - learning to understand and accept her sudden recruitment into the autism army. It's a quick and pleasant read.

I found myself making little check marks in the margins as I found Cohen putting words to feelings I had experienced over the last couple of years. Frustration at sitting outside a party: check. Anger at strangers giving unsolicited advice and unnecessary pity: check. Seeking an escape route from this strange new life? Father with Aspie tendencies? Husband depressed because he wants to move? Check check check.

Cohen has few kind words for the parade of professionals responsible for conducting diagnostic testing; how can someone who has never met her son pretend to know anything about him without treating him like a data point, she argues. Seeing Ezra chronicles her internal journey to a place where she feels comfortable enough with herself to stand up to all the therapists who want to make her son "normal." She bristles at the idea that something must be done to fix her son, because she has never seen him as broken. He is perfectly Ezra.

I recommend Seeing Ezra, especially to ASD parents and to therapists who may need to be reminded that the kids they are working with are, first and foremost, kids - kids who like to play and laugh and who need nothing more than love.

Thanks to the generous folks at Seal Press, The Ryan Files will be giving away a copy of Seeing Ezra to one lucky reader. To enter, go to my Facebook page and write "Love is normal" on the wall. I will select a winner at random on October 18th. Good luck!

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