Boy Alone by Karl Taro Greenfeld This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

September 30, 2012
Everyday more and more families lives are changed as young children are diagnosed with autism. Children with autism interpret the world differently from other people. They face problems everyday with completing simple tasks and actions. The family unit that supports the child with autism also faces challenges day to day. Karl Taro Greenfeld, the author of Boy Alone, writes about his family’s struggle to get through life with his autistic younger brother Noah. Through Karl’s memoir, Noah grows up an isolated boy, due to the symptoms of autism restricting him and limiting the amount he could enjoy his life.

The author thoroughly takes you through Noah Greenfeld’s life while growing up with a different view of the world. The family starts to notice a slow development in Noah’s early years for example, he is behind in learning the everyday activities of his life. The thought of having Noah tested for any disorder worries the family. Once Noah is diagnosed as being retarded with autism Karl writes a common response for any family that has learned they have a child with special needs, “ My mother, at first, refuses to consider that Noah might be retarded” (Greenfeld 24). The family struggles on their own for a few months, trying to figure out how to help Noah with his disruptions and reactions each day. It is stressful for parents with an autistic child to function with no help from specialists. UCLA’s Lovaas program provided therapies to children with autism in California where Noah’s family ends up moving to improve Noah’s life. They are told that through this school Noah’s disabilities will slowly disappear. After spending time at UCLA, Noah’s autism is not improving as they were told it should have been. As time passes, Karl grows into his teen years and into drugs and smoking because of feelings from his childhood that he did not matter. The family needed to move once again, this time leaving Noah behind with a specialist where he was improving independently and continuing his life. The rest of the family moved on with their lives, and received on-going information about Noah’s progress. During the final section of the book Karl reflects about the brutal memories of his early childhood when the family focused their energy on Noah and Karl felt alone and often angry.
Authors writing about the subject of autism show the conflict that can exist in homes raising an autistic child. Today, few people realize the major sacrifice that parents and siblings make to help shape the life of these disabled children. Siblings of an autistic child lose some of their childhood trying to care for their brother or sister. Karl was not able to have a lot of childhood memories and even felt neglected because of his brother Noah. Children like Karl can end up having problems also because of the stress caused by their sibling and the expectations their parents have of them. Autism becomes a large part of a family’s life when supporting a family member encountering autism.

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