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A Friend Like Henry Hardcover – July 26, 2007

332 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


'I sat down for a few minutes to skim through A Friend Like Henry...Hours later, I was still there, with tears running down my cheeks - for the appalling difficulties faced in dealing with the condition and with officialdom, but most of all for the extraordinary devotion and empathy between the boy and his dog. Just buy it, please.' Sarah Stacey, Mail on Sunday 'Truly affecting ... terribly touching' David Sexton, Evening Standard 'More than just a heartwarming tale about a healing relationship between boy and dog. It is also a mother's painful search for love from a child' Herald --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Nuala Gardner is a nurse and midwife. She and her husband Jamie have two children, Dale and Amy, both of whom have autism. Dale is 18 and planning a career working with children with autism.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton Ltd (July 26, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340934018
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340934012
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 8.7 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (332 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,496,537 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 37 people found the following review helpful By A. Riley on October 15, 2008
Format: Paperback
I kind of feel like I don't even know where to start talking about this book. I knew very little about what families with autistic children go through, and after reading this book, a first hand account of a mother with two autistic children, I feel I can empathize much more with the struggle they go through. And while all the daily tasks and events, the simple communications and learning events most parents take for granted are extraordinarily more difficult, this book is in no way a downer.

First of all, I think the Gardners are fantastic parents. They worked tirelessly to help their son live the most normal life he possibly could. After years of working with him and using his obsessions (such as with Mickey Mouse and Thomas the Tank Engine) to teach him about human emotions and connecting with other people to minimal results, they discovered he loved dogs. And so they researched and searched until they were able to find a golden retriever puppy...the breed they thought would be a perfect fit.

A wonderful testament to the glory of dogs, this dog loved their son and became a companion to him and helped this family "get their son back."

This book is the story of a life...of Jamie and Nuala's life, of Dale's life, and of Henry's life. It's about struggle and triumph...parental love and the love of a dog. It's profoundly moving, inspiring, and educational. I highly, highly recommend it. Just be sure to have a box of tissues nearby when you'll need it.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By anna kruger on November 30, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have a great respect for any parent of a handicapped child and this mother was exceptional in her relentless passion to help her son. However I would not have purchased the book if I had known it's content was more pertaining to her struggle with coming to terms with her son's autism. The cover and write up led me to believe the book centred around the Labrador. Henry only came into the story after approximately 37% of the book was read and then the mother's detailed infertility issues also became a large feature. If a reader has a desire for more insight into the understanding of autism and how to handle it then this is an excellent book to read.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Denyse King on October 31, 2008
Format: Paperback
a friend like henry,written by Nuala Gardner and published by Sourcebooks is a parents' book about autism...with all the fluffy bits removed. Honest, blunt, significant, rewarding. A well written, meaningful and very readable book.

a friend like henry is a book that tells the reader how frustrating, enlightening and magical living with autism can be, both for the person on the spectrum and those that live in the world parallel to ours.
I am happy to say that at no time in this book is it ever implied that Dale should be 'cured' of his autism, it is obvious throughout the book that the search is for coping mechanisms and behavioral modification.

One of the things I enjoyed most was that Nuala does not claim that pet therapy is the only solution to the above dilemma but she does openly and honestly share one way of using an autistic child's obsession to their family's best advantage.

One of the things I disliked the most about this book (besides the use of all lower case for the title and author name), was the way it rewired all my emotions and made me cry every few pages. I found that I had to pace myself through this book by reading it in between several others in order to give my emotions a break. I nearly couldn't continue on reading it at the end but I am not going to tell you why, as it will 'ruin' the ending for you. However, I am happy that I did carry on.

After reading this book I am still convinced that our N3S is still the child most likely to be savaged by a dog but I picked up a few tips encouraging on behavioral modification which we will apply through other mediums.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By BeatleBangs1964 VINE VOICE on January 25, 2011
Format: Paperback
On February 18, 1994 the Gardners made a fateful decision. They decided to go ahead and get a therapy dog, ostensibly a pet for their son Dale, who, then 5 had autism. Dale at that time was marginally verbal and devoted to his stuffed Mickey Mouse, Thomas the Tank and to following routines.

The dog, whom Dale named Henry after a character who was featured with Thomas the Tank would prove invaluable. He learned alongside with Henry. When Henry was being housebroken and rewarded with a treat each time he used the great outdoors, Nuala used this as a teaching moment for Dale. Dale, then 5 became fully toilet trained after seeing Henry master this skill. His drawing skills also improved. Shortly after Henry arrived, Dale drew a recognizable picture of a dog labelled "Henry." It was the first representational drawing he had made.

Nuala and Jamie Gardner would "talk" through the dog to teach Dale and communicate with him. They would pretend to "be" the dog and speak as if the dog were, as in "I love it when Dale plays with me," and "I wish Dale would share his blanket with me." In time, this method paid dividends. Dale's behavior became less autistic and by the time he was 7, was able to tolerate a birthday party. He was also able to accept seeing familiar objects in different settings, such as a tire being used as a swing. He had fewer meltdowns and ordinary words such as "okay," "proud" and "school" no longer sent him into a frenzy. By 2000, he was promoted to the local public school in his Scottish town.

Thanks to Henry, Dale's world expanded. He got to go to Disneyland for his 8th birthday in 1996. He almost got to move to Austin, TX when Jamie was exploring a job possibility at the well-known technology firm, AMD (American Micro Device).
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