Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A wonderful story - Book recommendation

Will and I just started listening to the book Life Animated and so far it has been an emotional journey for both of us.
Will and I get suggested books to read ALL THE TIME.  And to be honest we just don't have the chance to sit down and read a book.  That would be nice, maybe one day...
But we are in the car a lot, and Will loves audiobooks. 

Here is a summary of the book:
Here’s how this survival story begins. Just shy of his third birthday, a seemingly typical, chatty child became mute. He suddenly didn’t sleep or eat, and cried inconsolably. His only solace: the Disney animated movies he loved before the autism struck. But they had changed, too—they’d become gibberish, because the boy’s ability to understand speech had also vanished. So he memorized them, dozens of them, based on sound alone. What follows are a series of startling breakthroughs, as, for years, the family began to communicate with their lost son in movie dialogue. Recite one line, he’d look you in the eye and recite the next. But was he understanding?

Will and I both have cried in multiple spots.  We have held hands and looked at each other without saying anything, but just understanding each others feelings.  Max is this child.  Max has the same issues.  There are other families just like ours.
Max does the same thing the little boy in the book does.  He memorizes movies.  He recites the lines and talks to the characters.  But when you ask Max about the characters or about a movie scene he won't respond or repeat lines from the movie, he only does this when the movie is playing.  He goes into another world when he watches Winnie the Pooh, Mickey Mouse, Elmo, Perry the Platypus, and Wall-e.  He understands them, and for a split moment he is a typical child, responding, being social, and even repeating words.  But as soon as the show is over the moment is gone.  I am glad Max has characters in his life to connect with.  I am glad there is something that he can communicate with. 
And Will and I feel lucky to have Max and his movies in our life.

Another summary of the book:
In fact, their young son had invented a language to express love and loss, the bonds between brothers, the nature of beauty, and the true meaning of the words “happily ever after.”
At its core, this brilliantly crafted narrative—written by the father, but shaped by his wife and children—isn’t about autism or Disney, though you’ll never view either one quite the same, again. It’s the story of a family’s resilience when their world is turned upside down. It’s about perseverance and hope.
A child disappeared into confusion, frustration, and silence. But deep inside his dark cave of isolation, he and his family began to dig for diamonds, working year by year, trial by trial, on a most improbable project: to find a way each of us can learn to animate our lives.
Will and I have been looking back at pictures of Max, and we have been talking about things we now notice as "not typical" or "on the spectrum."  I even think in some pictures Max is honestly trying to tell us something isn't right.  I feel so lucky that Will and I both listened to the spirit and started seeking out help for Max.  Max is learning in his own way, through movies, tv shows, and books.  He has friends who are very real to him.  He has his own "Winnie the Pooh" who he talks to and communicates with.  His friends might not be people, and socially he might be far behind other typical boys his age, but he is learning and progressing.  Will and I notice a difference in our family, and it isn't Max who has made a huge change, it is us.  We are allowing Max to be himself, we are allowing him to stay in his world.  Max is slowly entering our world, but we needed to jump into his first. 

I am looking forward to listening to the rest of the book with Will. 

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