“No Map to this Country” by Jennifer Noonan.
(Da Capo/Life Long Books, p 316, $19.99)
This book is about the “A-Word.” A could stand for Atomic, since explosion is implied, but in this case it is about autism. Autism is a trend that keeps on gaining momentum, and its label, once inflicted on a child, reverberates as a social suicide for families. The merit of Jennifer Noonan’s journey is precisely to expose the daily struggle families with autistic children must live through, bringing her resourceful personality to the front.
When her son was diagnosed, like most parents, she found herself entering a world, she was unprepared for, a world laden with misinformation and guidance. Her struggle was not to investigate the whys but rather to locate the unique abilities and challenges of her child to change his plight.
“No Map to this Country,” captures the initial sense of despair watching her child scream and spin, while feeling powerless to help, to her decision to put a stop to it. Gathering her own information, leading an endless crusade, she tackles the world of dietary, immunology, and metabolic research, and so to unveil a treatment fit for her son. She began experimenting with alternative diets, supposed to be beneficial to autistic children. I will not reveal whether she succeeded, but her journey allowed her to sound her limitations. With stark frankness and uncanny humor, Noonan narrates how through a six-year ordeal and with determination, she managed to rescue her own family from implosion. Autism not only impacts children but families above all.