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Making Peace with Autism: One Family's Story of Struggle, Discovery, and Unexpected Gifts Hardcover – August 30, 2005

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Editorial Reviews


"Families will gain much insight into how one family successfully coped with the challenges of raising an autistic child. Mothers, fathers, and siblings should read this honest account of family life with autism."—Temple Grandin, Ph.D., author of Thinking in Pictures and Emergence: Labeled Autistic

"This is a book that every parent and professional working with autistic children should own, read, and reread. These children have such enormous potential in their own way. It is so refreshing that this family sees it too."—Margaret L. Bauman, M.D., associate professor of neurology, Harvard Medical School

"Senator's story reminds us that while there are currently no medical treatments or cures for autism, we must maintain hope."—Karen London, cofounder, the National Alliance for Autism Research

"Senator's common sense approach and courageous journey give readers a practical and entertaining experience."—Doug and Laurie Flutie, cofounders of the Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism, Inc.

"This book reaches out to other families in a voice that inspires hope, but without losing realism. The everyday struggles are in the foreground but throughout her positive spirit illuminates a path that will make the journey easier for other families, and will help them feel they are not alone."—Simon Baron-Cohen, M.D., director, Autism Research Centre, Cambridge University

About the Author

Susan Senator is the mother of three boys, the oldest of whom has autism. She is the author of Making Peace with Autism, a memoir of her family’s struggles and triumphs. Her writing on autism has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Boston Globe. She has been featured on the Today Show, CNN, MSNBC, Voice of America, and NPR.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Trumpeter (August 30, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590302443
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590302446
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,082,852 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Susan Senator is mother of three sons, the oldest of whom has fairly severe autism. Senator is the author of one novel "Dirt: A Story About Gardening, Mothering, and Other Messy Business," and two autism parenting books, "Making Peace With Autism: One Family's Story of Struggle, Discovery, and Unexpected Gifts," and "The Autism Mom's Survival Guide: Creating a Happy and Balanced Life While Raising a Child With Autism." She began her writing career in 1984, as an escape, while working on her Master's Thesis at the University of Pennsylvania. She ultimately wrote four novels, and in 1997 published her first autism parenting article in Exceptional Parent Magazine. This led to many, many articles on various aspects of autism, parenting, and family life in places like The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and The Washington Post, all of which, along with her blog, can be found at Senator has appeared on the Today Show, CNN, MSNBC, and NPR's Weekend America. She was also a guest at a dinner at the White House in honor of Eunice Kennedy Shriver and Special Olympics, where she met the President. Senator's first book, "Making Peace With Autism," was given the Exceptional Parent Magazine Award of Distinction. Senator's philosophy is that it is certainly possible to have a happy family life even given the difficult context of autism -- it's just not what you might have expected.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Suzanne Amara TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 16, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I felt so happy while reading this book! Lately I have been reading all sorts of books about autism---after 11 years being an autistic spectrum mother, I finally felt ready to! So many of these books are about "miracle" cures brought about by parents who are incredibly focused and put "curing" their child first in their lives---before their other children and at times I almost feel before enjoying and appreciating the austistic child---it's like they only will be valued completely if they are "normal". The author of this book obviously loves her son Nat extremely much, and does so much for him, but she also ACCEPTS him. He is on the lower functioning side of the spectrum (another thing that doesn't often get written about lately) and although he makes much progress, she accepts certain things are just how he is--his silly talk, for example. I felt so encouraged about my own life and my son's life after reading this. He has Aspergers, and so we have some different issues to deal with, but we have dealt with our form of "silly talk" for years---we call it The Strange Noises---high pitched train-whistle-like squeals. I think during this reading was the first time I decided to simply accept this---perhaps try to regulate the time and place, but not to feel it had to be changed.

I really want to thank Susan Senator. It is hard to be as honest as she was here. I also have 3 children, and it meant so much to read about her worries and doubts about her other children---not to have them be an aside in the book, but a big part of it. ALL our children are important and interesting and valued!

I would call this one a MUST READ for those who love anyone on the autistic spectrum!
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Katharine Beals on October 26, 2005
Format: Hardcover
How refreshing to read an unflinching and substantive account of autism that tells it like it is. Kudos to Susan Senator and to Trumpeter Books! Most mainstream publishers and bookstores have done a terrible disservice to parents of autistic children by ignoring all but the miracle cure memoirs. To a new parent scanning the special needs shelves of her local Barnes & Nobel, it must appear that autism has been cured many times over-whether by Applied Behavioral Analysis, Floor Time, the Diet, Auditory Integration Therapy, the Option Institute, or (yes, it's true!) the Mozart Effect. Only after much sweat, tears, and money down the drain does one learn what the sensation-obsessed book industry prefers to withhold: that most autistic children are never cured. Susan Senator's book is a much-needed corrective, offering practical advice instead of pipedreams, coping strategies instead of quackery, and companionship, rather than one-upmanship, in autism's many challenges.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By BeatleBangs1964 VINE VOICE on September 2, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent first person account of a parent whose son has autism. Nat Senator was born on November 15, 1989 just at the time more research and information was being done on autism and its spectrum partner, Asperger's Syndrome. The oldest of three sons, Nat exhibited autistic behavior almost from infancy. His language development was delayed; he sought comfort in sitting quietly, avoiding a noisy peer ("coming even" after sensory bombardment, a common behavior and coping mechanism among people with autism) and vigorously protesting noisy guests at a family Seder.

At 8, Nat became a brother for the first time when Max was born. Their yougest brother Ben was born when Nat was 14 and Ben was 6. Max was described as the "peacemaker" and "trailblazer" who was able to interpret a lot of Nat's behavior. Ben balanced out the fraternal temperaments with his direct, forceful approach. He appeared to be Nat's counterpart as Nat was apt to retreat. Max was also described as "wearing the mantle of the oldest brother" because of Nat's great needs.

Nat was able to attend school with lots of support and made great progress. The boy's mother wisely did not buy positive reports at face value; it was she who insisted that school staff place more emphasis on having Nat make eye contact and reduce his self-stimming behaviors.

At the end of the book, Nat explained that his "silly talk," as he called it which consisted of neologisms was his way of having something he did not have to explain to others. He said that when people talked to him, their questions came at him too fast and he found that confusing and overwhelming, a common plaint among the autistic population.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By LIZARD on November 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I just finished this book last night, and as a mom of a child with autism, I was not only touched and assured but relieved to finally read an account from a parent who was not claiming some miracle therapy or chemical treatment cured her child or helped him "recover." Ms. Senator reaffirms what we parents of autistic children know--that autism is a serious, life-long condition that involves tremendous struggle and sacrifice on the part of everyone in the family. I have no regrets about everything I have done or will continue to do for my son, and he is doing wonderfully, but I now know that "recovery" is a virtual impossibility for him, and, I think, for most kids with this condition. Susan Senator's love for her son eminates through this book while she fully acknowledges the impact that his autism has had on her, her husband, and her other two sons. This means more to me than any tale of alleged recovery. She and her family are an inspiration to me and, I think, to anyone who reads this honest, compelling story. Even if autism isn't a part of your life, I urge you to read this book. It will educate you on autism and, I believe, open your eyes to what daily life with it is like for everyone who loves the autistic child.
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