cover image A REAL BOY: A True Story of Autism, Early Intervention, and Recovery

A REAL BOY: A True Story of Autism, Early Intervention, and Recovery

Christina Adams, Author . Berkley $15 (336p) ISBN 978-0-425-20243-2

Adams's son, Jonah, was two years and eight months old when he was diagnosed as autistic. Eighteen months later, child development specialists evaluating Jonah couldn't believe he'd had a history of autism. What made the difference? Adams—with the help of her lawyer husband—devoted herself completely to Jonah's treatment, starting immediately with a rigorous gluten and casein-free diet. They enrolled the young boy in a 40-hour a week, one-on-one ABA ("applied behavioral analysis") program for autistic children, supplemented with individual speech therapy and physical therapy. Jonah also took various drugs to reduce perseverative behavior and overall anxiety. Adams, a self-described "Autism Mommy," worked full-time on the intervention process, advocating for Jonah's needs with the school system so they'd cover his high bills, cooking Jonah's special foods and interfacing with each therapist privately and then collectively to help Jonah integrate the lessons into real-world situations. It's pleasing to see Jonah make such a dramatic improvement, although some readers may feel uneasy at how quickly this two-year-old was labeled autistic, or feel disturbed by the intensity of his treatment plan. With the number of children on the autism spectrum growing, Adams's upbeat, inspirational account has a ready-made market—at least with other autism "super parents." Agent, Marcy Posner. (May 3)