July 2010

A mother’s heroic quest

By Elaine Hall
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In attempting to reach her autistic son, Elaine Hall developed imaginative new ways to connect with other autistic children. These miracle breakthroughs, as well as a performing arts program she started for autistic children, were the subject of an award-winning HBO documentary, Autism: The Musical. Hall relates this incredible journey in her heartwarming memoir, Now I See the Moon.

Once a highly successful film and television acting coach for children, Hall consistently distinguishes herself by employing creative approaches to motherhood. When she learns that Neal, the two-year-old boy she adopted from a Russian orphanage, is autistic, she recalls a Chinese proverb: “Barn’s burnt down—now I see the moon.” And here is where the hero quest of a devoted mother begins.

Hall enters her son’s world, flapping her hands, crawling under tables and spinning as Neal does in order to understand his heightened sensory perceptions, his difficulty with communicating through speech and his remarkable gifts. She witnesses his protectiveness toward other children, his occasional psychic ability and his high intelligence, and she learns to empathize with the physical pain and panic he experiences when subjected to loud noises.

Hall writes unflinchingly about the strains and sacrifices of parenting an autistic child, yet more importantly, her work encourages parents to accept their child’s uniqueness, to question and rethink what is best regardless of established practices, and to appreciate the miracles that come with never giving up on developing pathways to communication.

Now I See the Moon is an amazing story written by an indomitable woman and an important book for anyone wanting to nurture and appreciate the special gifts of autistic children.

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Now I See the Moon

Now I See the Moon

By Elaine Hall
ISBN 9780061743801

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