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As inspiring as the vast mountains of deepest Mongolia, The Horse Boy is the story of just how far a father will go to give his son a chance at a normal life. Isaacson, a travel writer, was dismayed to learn that his two-year-old son, Rowan, was autistic. Parenting a special-needs child was increasingly difficult, with Rowan's failure to interact and inability to toilet-train. Then one day, Rowan bolts toward the neighbor's horse pasture, and Isaacson chases him down - only to watch the mare, Betsy, become strangely submissive in Rowan's presence. Convinced that Rowan's bond with Betsy is meaningful, Isaacson plans a trip to Mongolia, where horses were first domesticated, and the home of present-day healers, or shamans.
What follows is an improbable journey to the farthest reaches of the earth. Accompanied by a camera crew and some local guides, the Isaacsons travel, first by car and then by horse, across rough, mountainous terrain. Isaacson frequently questions the sanity of what they're doing. Will they actually reach the shamans, and if they do, can they possibly heal his son?
Isaacon's writing style is simple, but with his keen eye, readers will feel that they're riding right alongside him, marveling at the ancient landscapes, the strange foods, and the exotic people. An account of an astonishing adventure, The Horse Boy is an unforgettable odyssey.
(Summer 2009 Selection)
In this intense, polished account, the Austin, Tex., parents of an autistic boy trek to the Mongolian steppes to consult shamans in a last-ditch effort to alter his unraveling behavior. Author Isaacson (The Healing Land) and his wife, Kristin, a psychology professor, were told that the developmental delays of their young son, Rowan, were caused by autism. Floored, the parents scrambled to find therapy, which was costly and seemed punitive, when Isaacson, an experienced rider and trainer of horses from his youth in England, hoisted Rowan up in the saddle with him and took therapeutic rides on Betsy, the neighbor's horse. The repetitive rocking and balance stimulation boosted Rowan's language ability; inspired by the results, as well as encouraged by such experts as Temple Grandin and Isaacson's own experience working with African shamans, Isaacson hit on the self-described crazy idea of taking Rowan to the original horse people, the Mongolians, and find shamans who could help heal their son. The family went in July, accompanied conveniently by a film crew and van, which five-year-old Rowan often refused to leave, and over several rugged weeks rode up mountains, forded rivers and camped, while enduring strange shamanic ceremonies. Isaacson records heartening improvement in Rowan's firestormlike tantrums and incontinence, as he taps into an ancient, valuable form of spirit healing. (Apr.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Isaacson (The Healing Land) tells the absorbing, at turns heartwarming and heart-wrenching tale of his autistic son, Rowan, and how a family horseback-riding trip to Mongolia helped change all their lives. He expresses his son's vocalizations with kindness while also conveying the boy's frustration and confusion, and his travel-writing skills enhance the story of their adventure, which is not for the faint of heart. Music and sound recorded for the accompanying documentary, a 2009 Sundance Film Festival selection (www.horseboymovie.com), are incorporated into the title's sound design. For families with autistic children and those who enjoy biographies, travel narratives, and horse stories. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 1/8/09, and Audio News Briefs, LJ 3/15/09.—Ed.]—J. Sara Paulk, Fitzgerald-Ben Hill Cty. Lib., Fitzgerald, GA
CD 978-1-60024-542-8.A father goes to great and treacherous lengths to "cure" his autistic son..Texas-based travel writer Isaacson met wife Kristin while traveling through India on assignment. The birth of their son Rowan in 2001 joyfully coincided with their seven-year anniversary. It wasn't long, however, before Kristin, a child-development psychologist, recognized early deficiencies in Rowan, as well as intermittent tantrums and mood swings that quickly increased in severity and regularity. After Rowan was diagnosed with autism at two-and-a-half, both parents considered various behavioral interventions. Some promised a possible recovery while others—chemical detoxification, viral therapy, diet modification—seemed overly radical. Only rushed trips into the forest seemed to quell Rowan's rages, which by age three had become a daily occurrence. The boy had a one-time positive response to healers and shamans from a delegation of Kalahari Bushmen Isaacson knew from his years in Africa. Rowan also demonstrated an extraordinary connection with animals, specifically with Betsy, an aging mare who genuflected in uncharacteristic "voluntary obeisance" whenever she was in the boy's presence. In learning to ride Betsy, even Rowan's verbal skills improved. Putting all these pieces together, the author proposed to a reluctant Kristin that they backpack and ride horses across Mongolia, integrating Rowan with the faith and trance healers of the "horse people" who lived there. Together with their guide Tulga, the Isaacsons experienced unorthodox rituals, mineral springs and exotic edible delicacies (fermented mare's milk, bloody "boiled and quivering" sheep's lung). They navigated the hilly terrain ofthe Mongolian steppe and, after a grueling nine-hour ascent into the mountains of southern Siberia, met Ghoste, a powerful Siberian shaman. By this stage in his quest, however, Isaacson begins to sound like a dangerously focused extremist. His determination in seeking normalcy for his son was honorable, but the dangerous situations he was willing to put his family in to achieve this goal are disturbing..Breathtaking atmosphere, solid prose and stunning cultural observations can't obscure troubling parental desperation and skewed priorities..Agent: Elizabeth Sheinkman/Curtis Brown U.K.
Dr. Temple Grandin
"This is a story everyone needs to hear."