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A Friend Like Henry Hardcover – July 26, 2007
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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.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
By the time we took Dale up to his room to settle him for the night, he was much calmer, although he insisted that Henry stay with him at all times. Even when Henry was lying beside him on top of the blanket, Dale still needed reassurance that his dog was not going away and was feeling all right. I had an idea and whispered to Jamie, who then said in Henry's deep voice, "Dale, I'm feeling much better now. Please take my Band-aid off."
Jamie gently removed the Band-aid, saying, "Dale, I'll put this in the trash-we won't need it any more."
Dale's face immediately flooded with relief and Jamie left me to say goodnight to him.
"Dale, give Henry his night-time kiss," I told him. "It's time to sleep."
He turned and did so, saying, "Night, night, Henry. Love you. See you in the morning."
I tucked Dale in and kissed him, saying, "Goodnight, Dale," as I cautiously turned to leave.
Then came his quiet, upset little voice, wanting more reassurance: "Mummy, Dale loves his dog."
I didn't want to make any more of a fuss and carried on, saying, "Yes, darling, and Henry loves Dale."
As I opened the bedroom door wider, Dale repeated softly, "Mummy, Dale loves his dog."
"Yes, that's good," I replied, still trying to leave. Then I stopped dead in my tracks as his next words hit me.
"And Dale loves his mummy."
Just five little words, yet I was numb, paralyzed with shock. Then somehow my brain started to function again, although my heart was pounding-I desperately didn't want to get this wrong. I turned around and knelt down beside Dale's bed, where I gave him a cautious and gentle hug, telling him, "Mummy loves you, too. And Daddy loves you. Goodnight, Dale."
His sweet, small voice replied, "And Dale loves Daddy."
I kissed him on the head, quietly left the room and wept-copious, silent tears. Through this mist I noticed Jamie, who had been waiting on the landing to see whether Dale had settled. We just gazed at each other, disbelieving. Then he took me in his arms as I continued to weep. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
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 read....you'll need it.
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.
The section where Dale 'speaks' at the end of the book along with Nuala's afterword are nice twists and are the perfect ending to what I feel is a triumph of literary honesty. This is a very special book.
I speak as both an adult Aspie and a mother of an Aspie child when I say that this book will break your heart into several pieces and then show you interesting new ways to put it back together again.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
parents should read this book
Beautiful story of a dog
Be prepared for your tears as this struggle was real