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Following Ezra: What One Father Learned about Gumby, Otters, Autism, and Love From His Extraordinary Son

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Overview

A heartwarming, intimate and amusing memoir of a father's experience raising his autistic son.

When Tom Fields-Meyer's son Ezra was three and showing early signs of autism, a therapist suggested that the father needed to grieve.
"For what?" he asked.
The answer: "For the child he didn't turn out to be."
That moment helped strengthen the author's resolve to do just the ...

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Following Ezra: What One Father Learned about Gumby, Otters, Autism, and Love From His Extraordinary Son

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Overview

A heartwarming, intimate and amusing memoir of a father's experience raising his autistic son.

When Tom Fields-Meyer's son Ezra was three and showing early signs of autism, a therapist suggested that the father needed to grieve.
"For what?" he asked.
The answer: "For the child he didn't turn out to be."
That moment helped strengthen the author's resolve to do just the opposite: to love the child Ezra was, a quirky boy with a fascinating and complex mind. Full of tender moments and unexpected humor, Following Ezra is the story of a father and son on a ten-year journey from Ezra's diagnosis to the dawn of his adolescence. It celebrates his growth from a remote toddler to an extraordinary young man, connected in his own remarkable ways to the world around him.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
When their middle-son Ezra was 2, Fields-Meyer and wife Shawn (parents of two other boys, Ami and Noam) grew concerned about his unusual behavior. Ezra avoided eye contact, was non-communicative, and demonstrated serious difficulty coping with stimuli or engaging "normally." After he was diagnosed with autism the following year, Fields-Meyer and his wife worked with Ezra's teachers and friends to help him integrate into the wider world as much as possible. While Ezra struggled with aspects of social interaction (like tact), his gift for numbers, lists, and minutiae eventually allowed him to interact with people in ways his parents never expected. They never tried to force him into a mold of "normal" behavior, and everyone benefited from this approach. Fields-Meyer's touching memoir ends with Ezra's bar mitzvah, an event that both signaled the end of his childhood, and served as a benchmark of his ability to function in surprising ways. Neither terror nor saint, the charming Ezra's triumphs are more remarkable for their lack of super-human accomplishment, illustrating how ordinary families can persevere and thrive with love and patience. (Sept.)
-Rabbi Naomi Levy
"Following Ezra is a revelation. I could not put it down. This inspiring memoir of a father raising (and being raised by) his autistic son is a great lesson about patience and the blessings that can come when we let our unique children lead us."
Kirkus Reviews

A father celebrates his son's differences and advises others on how to view autism as a parallel journey rather than a restrictive label.

Chronicling son Ezra's toddler years through his bar mitzvah, journalist Fields-Meyer (Business Mensch: Timeless Wisdom for Today's Entrepreneur, 2009, etc.) approaches autism from a topical perspective, creating a loving tribute that favors "following" his son's interests instead of imposing behavioral or social expectations. Subjects range from the initial diagnosis to Ezra's deep enchantment with animals, and from learning to read to the rewards and challenges of parenting a child who is spirited and unfiltered in his expressions. This is not the average medical memoir concerned with educating the public, nor does it trace a common tragedy-to-triumph trajectory; the author strongly emphasizes supporting Ezra himself over the condition. Advised early on to "grieve for the child he didn't turn out to be," Fields-Meyer quickly realized that there was nothing to grieve, and no sense of blame. Together with his wife and Ezra's brothers, he adapted to life at a slower pace, allowing frustration and wonderment alike to play out naturally. Characteristics of autism, which can include repetition, fixation, facial nuances, lessened eye contact and a superb memory for obscure minutiae are not treated as symptoms to normalize but as opportunities to enter Ezra's world—whether that means learning the running times of animated films or appreciating honest insights.

Determinedly upbeat, the author depicts parenting with grace and every child as a gift.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780451234636
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/6/2011
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 197,058
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Tom Fields-Meyer is an author and journalist. A former senior writer for People, he has written for dozens of publications, including The New York Times Magazine and The Wall Street Journal. A native of Portland, Oregon and a graduate of Harvard, he lives in Los Angeles with his wife and their three sons.

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Table of Contents

Prologue: Following Ezra 1

Chapter 1 He's Gone 5

Chapter 2 A Different Mind 24

Chapter 3 Lots of Little Fears 39

Chapter 4 The Boy Who Shouted 56

Chapter 5 Finding My Son at the Zoo 69

Chapter 6 The Reader 81

Chapter 7 Gumby, Cheerios, and Red T-shirts 95

Chapter 8 Typing Lessons 114

Chapter 9 I Just Know 126

Chapter 10 Chasing Elmo 145

Chapter 11 Is Your Dog Friendly? 162

Chapter 12 Right and Wrong, Death and God 175

Chapter 13 Three Questions 190

Chapter 14 Remembering the Future 207

Epilogue: Back in My Brain 236

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 9 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2011

    A wonderfully written, uplifting story for all audiences

    I loved this book. "Following Ezra" is a wonderful, uplifting story about the evolution of one parent's relationship with his autistic son. As author Tom Fields-Meyer notes, it's the book he would have wanted to read when he learned his son Ezra had autism. But this book is much more than that -- it's the book all parents should read when they learn they are becoming parents. With love, humor and a true desire to let Ezra lead him, Fields-Meyer teaches us all that what our children need most is parents who love and appreciate them no matter what challenges they may face. I found myself laughing out loud on one page and shedding a tear the next as the author traces the triumphs, disappointments and revelations that come with raising a boy like Ezra.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 9, 2011

    Inspiration

    As a new parent, i can relate to Tom's love for his child, his pride in Ezra's accomplishments. As a parent with a typical child, I don't have the experiences and struggles of raising an autistic child as the author articulates so well. This is a book I haven't put down. We can all learn from Tom's patience, and from the incredible young man who is Ezra.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2011

    AMAZING!

    My daughter has autism, and I've been trying to find ways to cope with it... His book is a complete 180 from all other books about it. An inspiration for any parent!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2013

    Ryan

    Kay

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2013

    Gabriel

    Plz take the hint

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 16, 2012

    A must read for anyone with a child on the spectrum

    I devoured this honest, sometimes humorous and very real story. Having a son on the spectrum who is just 5 now, I can relate to a lot of the content in this book. My husband and I both read it and it changed our view on how we should be handling our own son. Our boy has some very similar personality traits to Ezra and we found ourselves laughing out loud. Loved it. Again, loved it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2012

    Highly recommend!

    Very insightful book on autism.Would recommend to any one that wants to know more about the day to day life of an autistic child. Loved it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews

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