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

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

4.2 9
by Tom Fields-Meyer
     
 

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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

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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.

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."
From the Publisher
"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." — Rabbi Naomi Levy, author of To Begin Again and Hope Will Fin

"A riveting account of raising one special boy, Following Ezra is a powerful story for parents of any child. This inspiring book shows us that seeing meaning and depth in our children's idiosyncrasies is crucial to raising strong, secure and resilient kids. Tom Fields-Meyer has written a beautiful, funny, tender book."—Michael Gurian, New York Times bestselling author of The Wonder of Boys

"Anyone who is raising a child with special needs should read Following Ezra. It shows how warmth and humor—yes, humor—can help not just the child, but the family, more than most of us could ever imagine." — James Patterson, New York Times bestselling author

"The moving, fascinating story of a father's journey toward understanding and hope."—Daniel Tammet, New York Times bestselling author of Born on a Blue Day

"Following Ezra is an unsentimental, beautifully written memoir about a boy whose limitations and gifts are as extraordinary as his impact on the reader's life. Like Ezra himself, this book is by turns funny, painful, poignant and scrupulously honest." — Rabbi David J. Wolpe, author of Why Faith Matters

"I trust the parent who yields to wonder and celebrates the unexpected. Love is the river that runs through this book. Dignity and grace light each page." — Beth Kephart, National Book Award finalist for A Slant of Sun,

"When Tom Fields-Meyer's son Ezra was diagnosed with autism, the author decided to forego mourning for the child who might have been, and concentrate instead on the delightful kid he had. Following Ezra is at once a meticulous description of what it is to parent a child who has autism, and a salute to the kid whose mind takes both of them to mysterious, profound, and silly places we so-called typical adults can scarcely imagine."—Carolyn See, author of Making a Literary Life, and grandmother of a child with autism

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 Publishing Group
Publication date:
09/06/2011
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
1,318,305
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

-Beth Kephart
"I trust the parent who yields to wonder and celebrates the unexpected. Love is the river that runs through this book. Dignity and grace light each page."
-Rabbi David J. Wolpe
"Following Ezra is an unsentimental, beautifully written memoir about a boy whose limitations and gifts are as extraordinary as his impact on the reader's life. Like Ezra himself, this book is by turns funny, painful, poignant and scrupulously honest."
From the Publisher
"When Tom Fields-Meyer's son Ezra was diagnosed with autism, the author decided to forego mourning for the child who might have been, and concentrate instead on the delightful kid he had. Following Ezra is at once a meticulous description of what it is to parent a child who has autism, and a salute to the kid whose mind takes both of them to mysterious, profound, and silly places we so-called typical adults can scarcely imagine."—Carolyn See, author of Making a Literary Life, and grandmother of a child with autism
-James Patterson
"Anyone who is raising a child with special needs should read Following Ezra. It shows how warmth and humor—yes, humor—can help not just the child, but the family, more than most of us could ever imagine."

Read More

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