What About the Boy? A Father's Pledge to His Disabled Sonby Stephen Gallup
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Nobody knew what hurt little Joseph, and no one was offering a way to help him. He cried most of the time, and thrashed about as if in pain. He wasn't learning how to crawl, talk, or interact normally. Doctors told his parents to seek counseling, because nothing could help their son, and the quality of their own lives was at risk. Refusal to accept that advice launched an improbable journey that changed their lives forever. WHAT ABOUT THE BOY? A Father's Pledge to His Disabled Son chronicles a family's rejection of hopelessness and their commitment to the pursuit of a normal life, for themselves and their son.
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Meet the Author
Stephen Gallup grew up in North Carolina and Virginia. He studied at NC State University, earning a bachelor's degree in the life sciences, and then at the University of Virginia, where he received a master’s in English.
Although he remains a Southerner at heart, he now lives in California with his family.
Beginning in 1977, he worked in various roles in technical communication in the aerospace and wireless telecommunications industries, with projects ranging from proposals for satellite launches and feasibility studies of space missions, to user guides for trendy new cell phones. In the early years, he wrote occasional short fiction on the side, and features for newspapers.
Gallup’s life changed drastically with the birth of his son Joseph in 1985. Upon learning that there was a problem, he applied his energies to a pursuit of answers that he felt certain must exist. After a year of consulting with physicians to no effect, he located other resources. For the next four years, he and his wife Judy implemented an intensive two-pronged treatment campaign that resulted in dramatic improvements in Joseph’s condition.
His memoir What About the Boy? shows what the family did, and what happened next.
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March 5, 1985, Stephen and Judy Gallup were blessed with a new born son, Joseph. His birth was long and a difficult one. After the birth, it was made known to the Gallup's that something was wrong with Joseph and he would need to stay in the hospital for a while. He had trouble keeping his feedings down and had an "irritable' cry. Tests were taken and nothing was conclusive and there was no definite answer for the worried parents. Joseph and Judy so wanted Joseph to have a full and healthy life. They ran the gamut of pediatricians and physicians in search of an answer. They even went a chiropractor and other non-traditional health personnel. They refused all the negativity of the medical establishment. Then they found the Institutions in Philadelphia run by Glenn Doman, who believed that the brain injured child should have every opportunity to live a good life. There were many guidelines Judy and Stephen had to follow in the treatment of Joseph. He finally did learn to walk after much work from the Gallups and the many volunteers who helped them in accomplishing this no small task. There was nothing more important than Jospeh being able to walk, talk, go to school and just be a normal boy. I can't imagine what it was like for the Gallup's to live through this with Joseph. They fought a battle all on their own. Some family and friends didn't agree with what they were doing to help Joseph, but no matter what they kept going on to prove to themselves, Joseph and others that he could do it. They never, ever gave up on Joseph. I can say that sometimes I was upset with the medical establishment for not giving more help and advice to the parents. They were pretty much alone in all of this. They did a wonderful job developing Joseph into the young man he is today. Along the way, Judy succumbed to cancer; but, that made Stephen even stronger in helping his son.
I expected this book to make me cry. I did not expect it to make me mad. As I read about the Gallup's struggle to find answers for their son, I was so disgusted by the mainstream medical world's refusal to, at first, acknowledge anything was wrong, then later, to acknowledge that someone somewhere might know something they didn't. This is a book about being your child's advocate. It's about pushing past all the "experts" who are basically telling you, "We don't have the answers, so you're not allowed to have questions." It's about parents who were so desperate to help their son that they humbled themselves and asked for help from people they didn't even know. It is not about Super-Parents. Steve is very transparent about just how human they are. One thing that Steve and I agree on is that every child should be allowed to reach his full potential. He mentions one father who told him that if he had to choose between his child being low-functioning but full of the understanding that she was loved completely, or a "normal" child who didn't feel loved, he'd choose the low-functioning. Steve (and I) wondered why the two were mutually exclusive. We're not talking about making a child feel like he is less of a person or that he is damaged goods. We're just talking about making the effort to do what we can to help our children function at as high a level as they are capable of. I found it interesting that back in 1989, the program that the Gallups used to help Joseph reach his full potential used some of the same methods I've seen in "alternative" programs in use today. Alternative programs that are working. As Steve says, "We'd seen enough to know that the answer for one kid may be unrelated to what works for another, that very seldom is any answer complete, and that there's no escape from guesswork. The only feature the various success stories shared was a willingness of each family to reject experts who would not help." I did cry three times while reading the book. The first time was reading about all the amazing volunteers who had stepped up to help with Joseph's program, almost all of whom were complete strangers at the time. The second was when an Institutes staff member told the Gallups that the whole staff went out for ice cream to celebrate when they got the call telling them that Joseph was walking. At that meeting, the staff member also told them, "Joseph deserves to be told how great he is." I'm quite sure Joseph was getting message loud and clear from his parents. I also cried at the end of the book, but you'll have to read it to see why. This is the story of an amazing family. Parents who were willing to make great sacrifices for their son, and a son who was strong enough to do what the "experts" said he couldn't do. I won't say it's an easy read because there is some emotion involved, but it's well-paced and well-written. I highly recommend this book to everyone, especially parents. I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Author, Stephen Gallup, shares with readers his journey to give his son, Joseph, more than what the medical community says that he can have, a life outside of a world of his own, a life that Gallup passionately refers to as Joseph's birthright. Joseph is born via suction birth after his mother, Judy, has a difficult and lengthy labor. Joseph is diagnosed with having an underdeveloped within the first few days of his life. While struggling to navigate a medical system that is filled with little hope and contradiction in treatment, the Gallup's keep up with numerous appointments and struggle with their HMO. They see no improvement in Joseph. He seems to fall further behind, not meeting any of his developmental obstacles. After researching several treatments that are not recognized by the medical community, the Gallup's decide on a program that they believe is an answer for little Joseph. This particular program requires them to buck the system, to self pay out of their one income budget, pay to travel across the country, dedicate themselves to an around the clock treatment plan, completely revamp their home environment and enlist dozens of volunteers. I knew that this was a book that I would not be able to put down when I was brought to tears by page four after reading the tender reaction of Stephen Gallup to his newly born son. Through the eyes of Stephen Gallup, I had the pleasure of getting to know this remarkable family in a very personal way. I found myself cheering them on and sharing in their victories and disappointment. Gallup does not try to sell his reader on the simplicity of a "love will conquer all" mentality, but offers us his honest story. Other families who have experienced similar circumstances will find What About The Boy to be a breath of fresh air. I would recommend What About The Boy by Stephen Gallup to anyone. Not only is the story compelling, it fosters a better understanding for those of us who are lacking real life experience in the life of a family who is required to do so much more than what is required by the average family to bring their son to a life so well deserved.
Amazing book!! Great style, and touching story. Highly recommend.