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Elijah's Cup: A Family's Journey into the Community and Culture of High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's Syndrome Hardcover – March 26, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This expressive and deeply felt memoir explores how the diagnosis of the author's son, Elijah, with Asperger's syndrome (a high-functioning autism) changed her life. As a young child, Elijah had delays in language and motor skills, and also suffered seizures. Paradiz, an assistant professor of German studies at Bard College, details the subsequent dissolution of her marriage (although she and her ex-husband are now friends) and her own depression, events triggered by the problems of coping with Elijah's needs. After Paradiz hired a babysitter with Asperger's syndrome and read several accounts written by people diagnosed as autistic, she understood that her son was a visual rather than a verbal thinker. (According to the author, Albert Einstein and Andy Warhol both had Asperger's syndrome.) This realization led her to provide Elijah with the repetitive activities he needed to enjoy his life. She describes their time together at Autreat, a camp for autistics that emphasizes self-advocacy, an idea that has been rejected by more traditional parents and teachers, who believe that autistics cannot know their needs. This is a moving personal story that highlights a new way of thinking about people diagnosed as autistic.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Elijah, Valerie and Ben Paradiz's only child, had some developmental problems in his early years, which were diagnosed as epilepsy. Yet the pressures of caring for the boy gradually drove Valerie and Ben apart, and they finally separated, which increased the demands on Valerie. Still, no one mentioned autism until live-in sitter Sharron Loree and Elijah's third pediatric neurologist both suggested it. Sharron, herself diagnosed with Asperger's, was able to meet Elijah on common ground. Furthermore, she and Valerie gained insight from a video and other information about Temple Grandin, the famous veterinary scientist who has autism, and they found respite and friendship with Jim Sinclair and his Autreats in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Valerie doesn't offer a typical autism story, for, as a sophisticated translator and teacher, she is highly literate, comfortable quoting from Wittgenstein and Nietzsche, and well able to avoid the personal and emotional excesses often seen in similar, less intelligent and less thoughtful testimonies. William Beatty
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (March 26, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 074320445X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743204453
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,006,765 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By BeatleBangs1964 VINE VOICE on September 16, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Valerie and Ben are devastated when their then 2-year-old son was diagnosed with autism in addition to epilepsy. Ben has trouble accepting the diagnosis and in time the marriage dissolved.

Instead of condemning Elijah to a life of labels and misperceptions about autism, Valerie Paradiz educated her small upstate New York community as well as the world at large in this book about her personal experiences with autism. Her son and father are both on the spectrum and this book is one of many that points out the genetic basis autism has.

Elijah was enrolled in special programs from the age of three and his greatest progress is made at home and with a friend he and Valerie meet. Sharron, an independent artist is herself struggling with Asperger's, the spectrum partner to autism. She recognizes in Elijah similar traits and experiences she contends with and finally receives a diagnosis. She bonded immediately with the boy and was his regular sitter for some years.

I like the way Valerie worked with Elijah; I like the way she taught him more appropriate ways of responding to peers, such as Trevor in the chess club. Trevor came away with empowered with knowledge and a chance to be more accepting of someone he sees as being "different" and Elijah understands what he can do to regulate his behaviors and move more comfortably in social circles.

I like the conversations mother and son had; I also like the outdoor programs for people on the autism/Asperger's (a/A) spectrum that are described in the book. Best of all, having autism is CELEBRATED!

I've banged on the different drum for a long time about how being on the a/A spectrum is something to celebrate.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By David Group on August 28, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful book of one mother's struggle to deal with a child with Asperger Syndrome, and the strain it can place on day-to-day life. There are also some fascinating anecdotes which reveal that some famous individuals may have had Asperger's-- Einstein, Wittgenstein, Andy Warhol, Andy Kaufman. The book does have some minor faults, though: the writing is a bit confused in a few spots, forcing me to read carefully to try to figure out what exactly was going on, and she introduces terms without fully explaining them ("perseverating", for example). The book, as wonderful as it is, it not as complete a guide for those looking for answers as I would have hoped. For that, I recommend the excellent HITCHHIKING THROUGH ASPERGER SYNDROME by Lisa Pyles.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Phil Schwarz on June 3, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Valerie Paradiz's book Elijah's Cup is a real gem - a must-read. It is heartfelt, lyrical in its imagery, and engaging in its narrative style. But beyond that, it is a milestone in the history of autism literature. It is a parent's narrative - but it is no ordinary parent's narrative. More than any book before it in its genre, it succeeds in understanding and communicating the perspectives of those of us who, like Valerie's son Elijah, are on the autism spectrum.
Valerie instinctively sought out and took seriously the input of adults on the spectrum in the course of trying to figure out how best to be a parent to Elijah. She instinctively sought the meaning and purpose in autistic behavior - in reaction to sensory stimuli, in learning through repetition and pattern-making, in a different yet no less valid set of aesthetic sensibilities. She refused to accept the cavalierness with which the medical model of autism dismisses the relevance and meaning of autistic behavior, sensory preferences, and cognitive style, and instead correctly understood them as the ways in which we attempt to make sense of the world and communicate with it. She refused to accept as adequate the diagnostic definitions of autism that reduce us to a laundry list of negatively stated traits. She understood that Elijah, and the rest of us, are more than that.
This is what we adults on the spectrum have been trying to tell the world ourselves for the past decade and more. It is downright radical stuff to be coming from a parent. Yet it is especially important that it is coming from a parent, and from a gifted and lyrical writer to boot.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Patricia Luker on August 22, 2003
Format: Hardcover
What can one say about a book written a parent about her child with Asperger Syndrome that isn't like the rest? From the beginning, the reader can tell that he or she has a real gem. The writer, Valerie Paradiz, describes her son, Elijah's early years, including the many seizures he had and the odyssey of doctors and medications. After a few years, the seizures abate, but he is found to have Asperger Syndrome by his babysitter, Sharron Lorree, who has the disorder, also. Sharron becomes a dedicated friend and takes to Elijah like a duck takes to water. In this nifty little book, Paradiz takes an abrupt right turn AWAY from the doom and gloom and the quest for a cure that so many other parent stories about their children focus on.
Instead, the author takes her son to Autreat, a retreat in New York State for people with autism and the people who support them. Run by Jim Sinclair, a major figure in the self-advocacy movement and a proponent of "autistic culture, " the principle of allowing people with autism to be themselves and to accommodate their needs by what has been derisively called "self-stim," where in fact, it is a way to meet one's sensory needs, to communicate or to better adapt to one's environment, or all of these. While at Autreat and after, Paradiz takes on an increasingly positive attitude toward her son's autism, focusing on the STRENGTHS, instead of deficits.
In addition, the author gives the reader insights into the relationship between her and her estranged husband and how they are able to reconcile their relationship.
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