The Only Boy in the World: A Father Explores the Mysteries of Autism

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9781600940033: The Only Boy in the World: A Father Explores the Mysteries of Autism

The Only Boy in the World is a memoir, an investigation into what makes us human, a study of aberration, and a love story. It's about all the odd ways journalist Michael Blastland's autistic son, Joe, has of seeing the world and understanding others, and what that tells the rest of us about how we also tick. Through the strange stories of Joe's scrapes and confusions, he makes luminous the routine skills by which the rest of us mostly avoid the disasters that befall him. The book strives to this understanding by combining Technicolor scenes from Joe's bizarre life, from the long catalog of his social accidents, with scientific and psychological understanding of how we normally relate to other people. Illuminating the emotional core of the book are the ways that Joe and his father relate through all the turbulence to one other.

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About the Author:

Michael Blastland has been a journalist for over twenty years. He is currently a radio producer and on-air presenter for the BBC's Radio 4, where his focus is the journalism of ideas. The father of two children, he lives in a small village in Hertfordshire, England.

From Publishers Weekly:

BBC Radio journalist Blastland offers the heartfelt and honest story of his 10-year-old autistic son, Joe. Unlike some memoirs, which tend to focus on diet changes and medication trials and caretaker failures, Blastland uses each chapter to raise broad philosophical issues that define what it means to be human—such as intention, innocence, self-consciousness—in order to evaluate where Joe stands. Does Joe consider himself the "only boy in the world," with everyone else—even his dad—more like some "universal vending machine" that he pokes repeatedly to get what he needs? How does Joe think about himself, if he has so little awareness of others, and no capacity for imaginary play? What is it like to live completely in the literal world—with no fantasy, no jokes, no lies? At times, Blastland comes to profoundly sad conclusions. With Joe craving the familiar to the point of obsession, it's difficult for him to learn anything, since learning involves novelty. In the end, though the big philosophical issues remain unclear, Blastland knows he's learned a lot from trying to understand his son. (Sept.)
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