Out of Silence: A Journey into Language

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9780805019988: Out of Silence: A Journey into Language

This is the story of one particular little boy trapped in silence, struggling to regain language. And it is the story of every one of us who uses language in much the same way we breathe: effortlessly, intuitively, taking this gift for granted in our daily lives.
In a work that captures the whole universe of language, Russell Martin probes this most profound and complex human trait but never abandons his central concern, always circling back to the troubling question of this speechless child. Investigating the mystery of what went wrong and why, he spins a tale of detection, unearthing disturbing truths and reaching surprising conclusions. In the end, his is a spellbinding drama: a tale of one family's determination to help their child find his way back to words; a story of one school's willingness to make room for this child: a story, too, about big, seemingly insurmountable problems and small but noble victories.
In combining this story with an elegant inquiry into the totality of language. Martin takes us on a voyage of discovery into the very essence of what makes us human. Moving us with the miracle of language, he tells a tale that is cause for celebration.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

Juxtaposing the pain of childhood autism with theories of how language develops and functions, Martin (A Story That Stands Like a Dam, 1989, etc.) evokes the miracle of speech and the tragedy of its loss--in a loving tribute to his nephew, Ian, and his family. After speaking his first word at 18 months, Ian woke up from a feverish sleep induced by a DPT shot unable to speak at all; isolated by inner demons, inexplicable tantrums, obsessions, and rituals, he was to be deprived for four and a half years of the ordering, socializing, connecting function of language. Martin traces the history of autism, names award-winning psychiatrists (such as Bettelheim) who blamed it on parents, covers the recognition of its epidemic proportions, especially among the children of middle-class parents in the 60's, and touches on the quiet substitution of an altered DPT vaccine in 1992 for the lethal variety that destroyed Ian. Martin's concern is with language, semantics, neurophysiology, learning theory, even the importance of narrative (at which he excels). He offers the medical reasons why Ian reacts to loud noises and to changes in his routines with terror and rage, and for the inner voices that confuse him even as he pursues peace through ritual, custom, familiarity. Eventually Ian attends school and learns to convey the ``nightmare'' of his life, the inscrutable world he inhabits, the conflicts among his thoughts, desires, expressions, and behavior. It is in this triumph that the greatest pathos of the book lies, showing a divided consciousness, aware and at war. A remarkable story demonstrating immense knowledge that has no power, good intentions that betray, and, at the very heart of it, the terrible price a child and his family paid because the most important information was in the small print that a country physician did not read. Crucial reading for parents and professionals. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

Martin's account of how an autistic child was brought out of his silence and acquired language is made more poignant by the fact that 10-year-old Ian Drummond of Colorado is his nephew. Given to bizarre rituals and violent tantrums, and bombarded by a cacophony of sounds due to a brain-related hearing impairment, Ian struggled inside a seemingly inescapable hell. Yet, aided by his parents, he gradually learned to communicate, first through American Sign Language, then with a portable speech synthesizer, and most recently by typing his thoughts, wishes and feelings on a computer keyboard. Martin, author of a book on neurology, Matters Gray and White , interweaves his nephew's heroic story with speculations on the mechanisms of autism and language acquisition, buttressed by recent findings of linguistics, brain research and learning theory. Of special interest is his disturbing charge, backed by corroborative studies, that Ian's autism resulted from an allergic, encephalitic reaction to the pertussis component of the DPT (diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus) vaccine administered to him when he was 18 months old.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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