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Autism, the Invisible Cord: A Sibling's Diary Paperback – August 15, 2012

4.7 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Cain uses a diary format to tell the fictional story (Dewey number notwithstanding) of 14-year-old Jenny, an ordinary teenager learning to live with—and, in some cases, without—her autistic 11-year-old brother, Ezra. Inspired by a teacher to write a term paper on her experiences, Jenny begins the journal, alternating day-to-day occurrences (trying out for the school play, etc.) with deeper reminiscences of Ezra’s difficulties as a child struggling to communicate and empathize with others. Ez is totally without artifice and hilariously honest: “Your hair looks like road kill,” he deadpans to a mail carrier. But Cain’s focus is solidly on Jenny as she navigates her “happy, splintered family” and realizes that “I have SPECIAL NEEDS too!!!” Occasionally, Jenny’s voice is oddly formal, but Cain does a splendid job juggling the different spheres of her life, lending this eight-month diary an understated, realistic feel. Four pages of tips for living with an autistic sibling conclude, driving home that this would be a fine, compassionate read for kids in Jenny’s position. Grades 4-7. --Daniel Kraus --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

Let me commend [Barbara Cain] on writing such an accurate portrayal of living with an autistic sibling I felt like I was Jenny! The parts where Ezra runs away, throws a temper-tantrum in a restaurant, Jenny's parents fight constantly, only one parent was able to go to Jenny's events...were all very good. --Anna Damiani, older sister of a boy with autism

With so much focus on the scientific mysteries surrounding autism spectrum disorders (ASD), it is possible to lose sight of the struggles faced by families of individuals with ASD on a daily basis. Cain brings these experiences to life and reminds us that for many families, the mysteries of the disorder are far less academic. Questions about how and when to discipline, handling inter-generational conflict with grandparents, and dealing with the complexities of raising a typically developing child alongside a child with a disability, are just some of the issues these parents confront everyday. More importantly, Cain reminds us that the experience of living with a child with ASD is not limited to parents; siblings are at the forefront of each challenge and every triumph, and they are profoundly affected as a result. --Somer Bishop, PhD, Assistant Professor, Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

With an exquisite ear for language and heartfelt empathy, Barbara Cain has captured the psychological essence of an adolescent sibling`s experience with autism. Offering a perspective not previously seen in the literature, this engaging narrative will not only be useful for professionals who work with families impacted by autism, it will have great popular appeal for both general and young adult audiences. --Jane Giddan ,MA, CCC-SLP , Professor Emerita, Dept. of Psychiatry, University of Toledo Health Sciences Center; Creator of Autismnet.net; 1996 Professor of the Year, Autism Society of Northwest Ohio

With so much focus on the scientific mysteries surrounding autism spectrum disorders (ASD), it is possible to lose sight of the struggles faced by families of individuals with ASD on a daily basis. Cain brings these experiences to life and reminds us that for many families, the mysteries of the disorder are far less academic. Questions about how and when to discipline, handling inter-generational conflict with grandparents, and dealing with the complexities of raising a typically developing child alongside a child with a disability, are just some of the issues these parents confront everyday. More importantly, Cain reminds us that the experience of living with a child with ASD is not limited to parents; siblings are at the forefront of each challenge and every triumph, and they are profoundly affected as a result. --Somer Bishop, PhD, Assistant Professor, Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

With an exquisite ear for language and heartfelt empathy, Barbara Cain has captured the psychological essence of an adolescent sibling`s experience with autism. Offering a perspective not previously seen in the literature, this engaging narrative will not only be useful for professionals who work with families impacted by autism, it will have great popular appeal for both general and young adult audiences. --Jane Giddan ,MA, CCC-SLP , Professor Emerita, Dept. of Psychiatry, University of Toledo Health Sciences Center; Creator of Autismnet.net; 1996 Professor of the Year, Autism Society of Northwest Ohio

With so much focus on the scientific mysteries surrounding autism spectrum disorders (ASD), it is possible to lose sight of the struggles faced by families of individuals with ASD on a daily basis. Cain brings these experiences to life and reminds us that for many families, the mysteries of the disorder are far less academic. Questions about how and when to discipline, handling inter-generational conflict with grandparents, and dealing with the complexities of raising a typically developing child alongside a child with a disability, are just some of the issues these parents confront everyday. More importantly, Cain reminds us that the experience of living with a child with ASD is not limited to parents; siblings are at the forefront of each challenge and every triumph, and they are profoundly affected as a result. --Somer Bishop, PhD, Assistant Professor, Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

With an exquisite ear for language and heartfelt empathy, Barbara Cain has captured the psychological essence of an adolescent sibling`s experience with autism. Offering a perspective not previously seen in the literature, this engaging narrative will not only be useful for professionals who work with families impacted by autism, it will have great popular appeal for both general and young adult audiences. --Jane Giddan ,MA, CCC-SLP , Professor Emerita, Dept. of Psychiatry, University of Toledo Health Sciences Center; Creator of Autismnet.net; 1996 Professor of the Year, Autism Society of Northwest Ohio
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Magination Press; 1 edition (August 15, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1433811928
  • ISBN-13: 978-1433811920
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 6 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #779,763 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read the book in an hour, and all I can say is, what a delight! It's a sweet and gentle account of Jenny and her life with Ezra, her autistic brother. There's not a trace of victimization in the book and indeed I recommend it highly to anyone who has a sibling living with autism in their life.

Barbara's story - told in the form of short diary entries - really shows what is feels like to grow up with a brother who's different - the joy, the hurt, the desire to protect him and the hope he will grow up and make a life on his own.

Reading her words, I thought of my own childhood, and that of my son, who also has autism. If we'd had sisters, would they have been like the Jen of the book? I hope so.

Kudos to Barbara for a wonderful story that any sibling or family could treasure.

John Elder Robison
NY Times Bestselling author
Look Me in the Eye, Be Different, and Raising Cubby
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Format: Paperback
Jenny's little brother has autism, and he is being bullied by an 8th grader at Jenny's school. Jenny decides to use her writing talent to craft an article about bullying for the school paper. Throughout the year, Jenny begins to see that the cord that ties her to her brother isn't as thick as she thought. Her brother begins to develop some independence and to survive even without Jenny's constant assistance. She starts to dream of attending a special summer program for journalism, but will Ezra survive without Jenny there?

I really enjoyed this story. It's a quick read, and it addresses bullying, autism, and the life of a middle school student. It has a happy ending and is free from any red flags. There aren't enough good books featuring characters with disabilities.
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Format: Paperback
I facilitate a book club for siblings of children with Special Needs - primarily Autism.
This book was perfect for us because it talks about the specific behaviors involved with Autism, but defines Autism in a unique way - as an "Invisible Cord." It was a great jumping off point for asking "What is Autism?" and exploring the ways in which Autism affects the sibling, as well as the spectrum child.
This book is valuable for helping the kids understand not only their siblings with Autism, but also their parents. It illustrates that, even if parents react differently to the spectrum child's behavior, they probably have the same good intentions.
I appreciate that the book presents the humor and talent of people with Autism, through Ezra's literal interpretation of idiomatic expressions and his intuitive understanding of technology. And, I like the ways in which Jenny challenges alleged "truths" about Autism, by pointing out the times when Ezra CAN imagine and DOES feel empathy. I have been impressed with how the children in our program focus more on their sibling's abilities than disabilities, and I think this book will help them assert, and advocate for, what their siblings CAN do.
What I like most about the book is that it gives siblings a sense of agency. Jenny doesn't just experience, she responds. The very fact that the book is written in journal form give siblings an idea for what they can do themselves - they can keep a journal too. And, they can find ways to stand up against bullying.
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Format: Paperback
I came across the author of this book while browsing through Twitter profiles. I compulsively look for tweeters with `autism' in their profile description and hit the jackpot when I came upon Barbara Cain's. Not only did she have `autism' in her profile, but she also had the word `sibling'. There is a good chance that a person with `autism' and `sibling' in his or her profile is someone to whom I could relate. My older brother Michael is autistic, you see.

The Invisible Cord sheds light on some of the family dynamics that arise when a sibling is autistic. The narrator is Jenny, a 14-year old, who is the older sister of Ezra, an autistic boy. Ezra is verbal and able to attend school. Jenny chronicles the worries of her teen-aged life in a secret diary. Interwoven with the normal teenage angst about boys, popularity and BFFs are some very adult concerns. Jenny is faced with the issues of the disruptiveness of her brother: embarrassment of his repetition of Viagra commercials, for example, and her need to keep the door to her room locked so he does not destroy her possessions. The special treatment Ezra receives from her parents seems unfair to her and adds to her feelings of invisibility. But when her brother is bullied, she steps into the fray without hesitation. She shows her resourcefulness in her plans to address bullying in the school newspaper. During the course of this project, she opens up to some of her friends and learns about the support she can receive, while getting to know their stories. I was surprised by the emotional impact at the end of the book, when all Jenny's hard work paid off. One could see her mature in the pages of her secret diary.

In my case, I grew up in the 1950s and 1960s with a very low functioning, nonverbal older brother.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am a sibling of an autistic person and I've been searching for books like this all my life. There are very few. The main character was realistic and so were her friends. She expressed feelings typical of sibs.
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