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What About the Boy?: A Father's Pledge to His Disabled Son (A true story about relationships and health within a family helping their developmentally disabled child) Paperback

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 376 pages
  • Publisher: Lestrygonian Books (September 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0615431534
  • ISBN-13: 978-0615431536
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,804,116 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


A story of intermingled triumph and tragedy, What About the Boy? will touch not only those who have dealt with autism or any other disability but also those who have been spared those agonies. In life, agony comes to most of us, but Gallup's book is a testament to living.
- Richmond, VA Times-Dispatch

What About the Boy? is an homage to parental love and sacrifice. ... It is socially relevant, exposing gaps in American medicine and underscoring the need for all parents to be vocal and vigilant when it comes to their children. What About the Boy? is a challenging book, filled with tragedy and determination.
- New York Journal of Books

From the Back Cover

Nobody knew what hurt little Joseph. Perhaps some toxin had invaded his mother's body before his birth. Perhaps it was the difficult birth itself. Or maybe the origin of his disabilities was genetic. Whatever the cause, something had gone terribly wrong — but no one was offering solutions or reasonable guidance.

He cried most of the time, and thrashed about as if in great pain. He wasn't learning how to crawl, talk, or interact normally. His parents sought medical help and were told at first not to worry so much. Later, the professionals recommended counseling to help the parents accept reality. Nothing could help their son, and the quality of their own lives was at risk.

Refusal to accept that advice launched an improbable journey that changed their lives forever.

What About the Boy? A Father's Pledge to His Disabled Son chronicles a family's rejection of hopelessness and their pursuit of a normal life.

More About the Author

Stephen Gallup has worked for many years as a technical writer. His greatest strength is in sorting through complex and often confusing subjects to expose the basic issues involved, and to show why those issues are important. In addition to his award-winning memoir, What About the Boy?, Steve has written a screenplay, short stories, numerous well-received essays, and even a poem or two.

When not writing, Steve has attempted, with remarkably limited success, to learn how to play the violin and speak Chinese. He enjoys listening to music, seeing new places, and bragging about his amazing kids. He blogs at fatherspledge.com.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 24 customer reviews
Steve and Judy's journey is incredible.
Jill-Elizabeth (Jill Franclemont)
As you read the story, you feel certain the author is not one to take shortcuts or sugarcoat the truth.
I do not want to give away too much in my review as I want people to read this book for themselves.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By The Paperback Pursuer on January 6, 2012
Format: Paperback

What About the Boy? is the true story of Joseph Gallup, born on March 5th, 1985, to parents Stephen and Judy after a long and stressful delivery. He had all ten fingers and toes, and looked like a normal, healthy baby boy, but something seemed odd about the newborn, and it was quickly discovered that Joseph was born with an underdeveloped brain and, according to doctors, would be disabled for the rest of his life. Even after being told countless times that nothing could be done for Joseph's condition, Stephen and Judy refused to accept the advice of the medical community and pledged to find anyone/anything who could help their son have the best life that he possibly could- pediatricians, medical professionals, therapists, alternative treatment centers, counseling, etc; all in pursuit of a "normal" life for their son and their family.


When the author contacted me about this book, I knew that I had to read it. I have personal experience with special needs/ disabled children and I was very interested in his experiences with his son, as well as with all of the people involved in Joseph's life. I expected that what his family went through would be heartbreaking, and that it would change their lives forever, but I did not expect to read about the attitudes of the medical community. I am part of a medical community now, and I am ashamed to see how Joseph's care was handled back then. The doctors and their medical opinions about Joseph annoyed me to no end, and I can definitely understand how Stephen and Judy felt about the entire situation. Stephen Gallup's memoir is an amazing and inspiring story of one family's struggle for an answer, for help, and for a normal life.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A. Chambers on September 1, 2011
Format: Paperback
I expected this book to make me cry. I did not expect it to make me mad. As I read about the Gallup's struggle to find answers for their son, I was so disgusted by the mainstream medical world's refusal to, at first, acknowledge anything was wrong, then later, to acknowledge that someone somewhere might know something they didn't.

This is a book about being your child's advocate. It's about pushing past all the "experts" who are basically telling you, "We don't have the answers, so you're not allowed to have questions." It's about parents who were so desperate to help their son that they humbled themselves and asked for help from people they didn't even know. It is not about Super-Parents. Steve is very transparent about just how human they are.

One thing that Steve and I agree on is that every child should be allowed to reach his full potential. He mentions one father who told him that if he had to choose between his child being low-functioning but full of the understanding that she was loved completely, or a "normal" child who didn't feel loved, he'd choose the low-functioning. Steve (and I) wondered why the two were mutually exclusive. We're not talking about making a child feel like he is less of a person or that he is damaged goods. We're just talking about making the effort to do what we can to help our children function at as high a level as they are capable of.

I found it interesting that back in 1989, the program that the Gallups used to help Joseph reach his full potential used some of the same methods I've seen in "alternative" programs in use today. Alternative programs that are working.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Julia Pitau on October 13, 2011
Format: Paperback
Intense and tearful! Just a few words to describe how I felt as I read this story. The parents' dedication to their son left me wondering if I, as a parent, would ever have the patience and dedication to give my child as they did. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading about real-life experiences; this one is a roller-coaster of emotions.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By toothitch on September 13, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book has inspired me in many ways. I am a parent of a non-verbal child with autism and can understand everything this family went through. The struggles they endured and the lack of information available regarding their son's condition, was not suprising. The book left me feeling sad,angry and happy as well as inspired. It is a story that needed to be told to offer a better understanding of having a special needs child. This is a story that gives us hope. I highly recommend it to everyone!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Paul Clayton on August 7, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Steve and Judy are a young American couple starting out in life. They're college-educated, middle class, responsible, upbeat. They have a child and before they take the baby (Joseph) home, they are told that he has an abnormal brain structure. Then the baby doesn't achieve to the normal markers (movements, attempts to crawl, to turn over) at the normal time junctures. The reader can't help but get caught up in this memoir as Steve and Judy go from doctor to doctor in a fruitless search for answers as to what exactly is wrong with their son and how it should be treated and overcome. The doctors they encounter seem to counsel only acceptance or a `wait and see' (how he progresses) philosophy.

But Steve and Judy are fighters. They refuse to accept these healers' low expectations for their son and so they seek out alternative treatments. They hear of a place where great strides have been made in helping brain injured children. A trip to the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential in Philadelphia ensues. Steve and Judy come away from their orientation at the Institutes with hope AND, more importantly, a plan of action. Steven Gallup's powerful memoir propels you along as he and his wife Judy embark on the mission that the Institutes has crafted for them to bring their son to wellness. The Institutes believes that children such as Joseph can progress to a point where they catch up with `healthy' children. As I followed Steve and Judy in their efforts on Joseph's behalf I was impressed with their strength and determination, but troubled by how expensive and time consuming the program was for them and other parents of brain injured children.
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