More about what happened...
I thought I'd take this opportunity to tell you a little more about myself what lead me to write my book, ├»┬┐┬ŻStrange Son├»┬┐┬Ż. My husband Jon Shestack and I started the Cure Autism Now foundation (CAN) about 11 years ago and I recently published my first book (my kids and husband hope it will be my last because it took me three miserable years). To read excerpts from my book, hear audio clips and see photos and videos of the real life characters in my book, please visit my website at: www.strangeson.com.
My attention has been focused on autism and especially autism research ever since my son Dov was diagnosed at the age of 21 months. Dov is now 14 years old, he is non-verbal and quite severely affected by autism, but I discovered that he had normal cognitive ability when he was 9 years old and he learned to point at letters on an alphabet board and in this way he began to communicate with us. Until then, we hardly knew him because he was almost completely unable to communicate.
I learned this communication method from Soma Mukhopadhyay, and her son Tito. They were living in India (their homeland) when I first heard about them in the year 2000. At the time, Tito was about 12 years old and the amazing thing about him was that although he was severely autistic and exhibited all the behaviors of the disorder, he had a high IQ, could read and write and communicate. I realized at once that Tito could be an incredible window into autism because he could tell us about his perception and his experience of the world. I asked CAN to sponsor Tito and his mother Soma to come to the US so that Tito could meet with researchers. They arrived on July 4th, 2001 and we began our journey around the country visiting neuroscientists who studied and interviewed Tito. I will write more later about some of the amazing things we discovered thanks to Tito, about his perceptual system and the reasons behind some of his unusual behaviors. For now I will simply say that Tito has radically changed our understanding of autism.
Later Soma worked with my son Dov and he too began to communicate. I will explain more about this incredible occurrence that forever changed our lives.
I am very committed to helping people understand the enormous potential that exists in many, if not most ├»┬┐┬Żlow-communicating├»┬┐┬Ż children with autism (by ├»┬┐┬Żlow-communicating├»┬┐┬Ż I mean kids who are nonverbal or who have speech but cannot use it to communicate). To this end I have started an online community to share information about how get started helping these children (or older individuals) to communicate better. I hope you├»┬┐┬Żll join us (www.strangeson.com).
Right now, I am on my way to Philadelphia where I will be doing a book-signing and reading event at Borders bookstore in Center City, on Thursday, Feb. 22nd, at 7:30 PM!
More later, -Portia