no map to this country


I know that I’m prone to hyperbole about books that I’ve discovered.  By “discover” I mean not hearing of it through other channels, and coming across it on my regular forays to the brick & mortar of B & N.  If I skim the book and am enamored, I’ll purchase it.  Sure, I might find it cheaper online.  But buying it in the flesh helps stave off the inevitable closing of the very environment that fuels my appetite for immersion in books.  Real, live books with a spine and the fresh smell of cellulose turned paper.

no map to this country, a $15.99 paperback, is an absolute gem!  Authored by a mother who has two kids on the autistic spectrum, there are many reasons to love this book.  It is a gut-wrenching view from an intelligent and informed mother who is entirely devoted to her children.  That’s not just my opinion.  A back jacket endorsement by Manuel F. Casanova, M.D., SmartState Endowed Chair in Childhood Neurotherapeutics at University of South Carolina  and Professor of Biomedicine at the USC School of Medicine is elaborated on his blog, Cortical Chauvinism.


Among the many reasons to love this book, what I suspect will jump out at you is Chapter 27, An Alternative Vision.  It details how Jennifer took her daughter Marie to see Dr. Denise Smith in Austin, Texas.  If Dr. Smith’s name sounds familiar to you it may be because another self-adovcate, Cavin Balaster previously sung her praises (about whom we blogged here).  A synopsis, if I may:

  1. Marie’s teacher stopped Jennifer in the hallway an asked her if she’s ever had her vision checked.
  2. Although two prior eye exams advised that everything was fine, Marie’s teacher was convinced that there was a vision problem.
  3. Jennifer took Marie to see Dr. Denise Smith, a developmental optometrist who had experience with autistic kids.
  4. Dr. Smith diagnosed convergence insufficiency, and demonstrated that to Jennifer.  It made sense, because Jennifer noted that Marie often looked at her with one eye closed.
  5. The weekly trip to Dr. Smith’s office was inconvenient, but Jennifer didn’t have confidence that anyone close would be as thorough or skilled as Dr. Smith and her staff.
  6. Over time Jennifer learned from the therapists how to tell when Marie was truly focused on an object by being a good observer.
  7. Marie’s reading and her eye contact both improved considerably.

An acknowledgement at the end of the book reads: “To our vision therapists, London and Maggie.  We made it one.”

3 thoughts on “no map to this country

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