A Friend Like Henry: The Remarkable True Story of an Autistic Boy and the Dog That Unlocked His World

A Friend Like Henry: The Remarkable True Story of an Autistic Boy and the Dog That Unlocked His World

by Nuala Gardner

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Now a New York Times Bestseller!

"The incredible story of a family with an autistic son, Dale, who conquers his disability thanks to the special bond he forms with Henry, a golden retriever puppy ... This is a fascinating and inspiring real-life account."-Woman & Home

A Friend Like Henry:
The remarkable true story of an autistic boy and the dog that unlocked his world

When Jamie and Nuala Gardner chose a puppy for their son, Dale, they weren't an ordinary family choosing an ordinary pet. Dale's autism was so severe that the smallest deviation from his routine could provoke a terrifying tantrum. Family life was almost destroyed by his condition, and his parents spent most of their waking hours trying to break into their son's autistic world and give him the help he so desperately needed. But after years of constant effort and slow progress, the Gardners' lives were transformed when they welcomed a new member into the family, Henry, a gorgeous golden retriever puppy. The bond between Dale and his dog would change their lives ...

"This touching story is an emotional rollercoaster." -Book Review

"Emotionally charged, this is a story that raises powerful issues in a deeply personal and insightful manner." -Irish Examiner

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781402214066
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication date: 09/01/2008
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 262
Sales rank: 632,623
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Nuala Gardner is a nurse and midwife. She and her husband, Jamie, have two children, Dale and Amy, both of whom have autism. Nuala is also the author of All Because of Henry.

Susan Duerden, an Audie Award-winning audiobook narrator, has won multiple AudioFile Earphones Awards for her work. Susan's career spans film, television, voice-over, and animation. She has played critically acclaimed, award-winning theatrical roles internationally, including in London's West End and Off-Broadway.

Read an Excerpt

By the time we took Dale up to his room to settle him for the night, he was much calmer, although he insisted that Henry stay with him at all times. Even when Henry was lying beside him on top of the blanket, Dale still needed reassurance that his dog was not going away and was feeling all right. I had an idea and whispered to Jamie, who then said in Henry's deep voice, "Dale, I'm feeling much better now. Please take my Band-aid off."

Jamie gently removed the Band-aid, saying, "Dale, I'll put this in the trash-we won't need it any more."

Dale's face immediately flooded with relief and Jamie left me to say goodnight to him.

"Dale, give Henry his night-time kiss," I told him. "It's time to sleep."

He turned and did so, saying, "Night, night, Henry. Love you. See you in the morning."

I tucked Dale in and kissed him, saying, "Goodnight, Dale," as I cautiously turned to leave.
Then came his quiet, upset little voice, wanting more reassurance: "Mummy, Dale loves his dog."

I didn't want to make any more of a fuss and carried on, saying, "Yes, darling, and Henry loves Dale."

As I opened the bedroom door wider, Dale repeated softly, "Mummy, Dale loves his dog."

"Yes, that's good," I replied, still trying to leave. Then I stopped dead in my tracks as his next words hit me.

"And Dale loves his mummy."

Just five little words, yet I was numb, paralyzed with shock. Then somehow my brain started to function again, although my heart was pounding-I desperately didn't want to get this wrong. I turned around and knelt down beside Dale's bed, where I gave him a cautious and gentle hug, telling him, "Mummy loves you, too. And Daddy loves you. Goodnight, Dale."

His sweet, small voice replied, "And Dale loves Daddy."

I kissed him on the head, quietly left the room and wept-copious, silent tears. Through this mist I noticed Jamie, who had been waiting on the landing to see whether Dale had settled. We just gazed at each other, disbelieving. Then he took me in his arms as I continued to weep.

Table of Contents

Prologue IX
Chapter 1 The Arrival
Chapter 2 A Different Child
Chapter 3 A Lonely Battle
Chapter 4 Henry: A Really Useful Dog
Chapter 5 The Voice
Chapter 6 The Kick
Chapter 7 Make or Break
Chapter 8 A Fitting Tribute
Chapter 9 The Miracle
Chapter 10 Independence
Chapter 11 Tough Decisions
Chapter 12 Harry
Chapter 13 A Whole New World
Chapter 14 Granda George
Chapter 15 Letting Go
In His Own Words
Reading Group Guide

Customer Reviews

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Friend Like Henry 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A Friend Like Henry can be enjoyed by educators, families and the general public to enhance understanding of autism and the benefits of having a family pet.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought the book was wonderful. The parents took time and patience in helping their child. Although they had some difficult times the child became more out spoken and able to handle every day situations.
Robin_in_Natick More than 1 year ago
This story captured my emotional heartstrings. One cannot help but empathize with this mother of two autistic children who has devoted her life to giving them a worthwhile and productive life. As the owner of a golden retriever, I can relate firsthand to the love a dog like Henry can contribute to a child's well-being. We get to know Henry and understand his value to Dale's development. I cried when Dale said "Tree", and when he first told Henry that he loved him. Then I was moved to tears a half dozen additional times before the story concluded. I wish I could contact Nuala Gardner directly to thank her for sharing her remarkable story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I work with children with autism, and I happen to own dogs, one in which is a black lab named Henry, and I can see the direct connection that children with special needs have with dogs. Yes, this story is about a Mum looking for answers, but it is also about a dog, that is forgiving, and non-judgemental who becomes not only part of the family, but also part of the solution, ulimately unlocking the difficult puzzle of autism. Autistic kids generlly can't understand other peoples feelings, but through his pet dog, a boy learns to feel, learns to care for, and learns to love.
krysolomon More than 1 year ago
I was very disappointed in this book. The title implies that the book is about how a special dog miraculously helps a child overcome autism; but the book hardly even mentions the dog. It is most a biography of the boy with autism and his mother trying to become pregnant. Would not recommend this book to those expecting a heartwarming story of a young man and his dog.
jayde1599 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Synopsis: When Nuala and Jamie struggled to enter their son Dale's world of autism, they looked for help. They sought professionals, schools, and intensive therapy - but nothing connected to Dale as well as a golden retriever named Henry. Dale was able to bond with Henry and communicate to and through Henry. With the dog's help, Dale soon began to thrive and come back into his parent's world. Pros and Cons: As a relative and special education teacher for students with autism, I am always critical when I read a book saying someone/something has "unlocked" the mystery of autism. It is not that easy. Nuala writes about the struggles: the tantrums, the frustration, the drive to advocate for her child. I appreciated that she was honest and that the Dale was not "cured" when Henry came into the picture. She discussed the emotional toll that her life had on her. The chaos of living with someone with autism is also felt.This is a success story in that Dale eventually was able to communicate with people, make friends, and be mainstreamed in school. It took a lot of hard work from Nuala & Jamie, Dale, his team, and a special dog. The bond between Henry and Dale is clearly displayed throughout the book. Included in the book are some of Dales words on his life, a few photos and some artwork that Dale drew. Highly recommended.The only thing that bothered me was that the book could have used some editing.
paperdust on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I would highly reccommend this book to anyone who knows, or teaches, children with cognitive learning disabilities. This is the memoir of one mother's plight to bring up her autistic child; the social prejudices she faced not just from strangers but from people within the industry; and how dear Henry played a pivotal role in helping to bring her son back. I had a good cry in parts. Agreed the book could've been shortened. This is a topic rarely broached; it is a condition that is difficult to diagnose and some people chose to live in denial. Thank you Nuala for so bravely and honestly sharing Henry and Dale's world with us. xxx
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I abandoned this book about half way through. The title implies that it will be about a boy and his dog, but the main character was the mother and the biggest issue was her struggle to get pregnant.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book opened my eyes to a world that I did not know, the world of autism.   The book is not about the dog as the name implies, but it is a great story about a family and their struggle with autism; and more importantly, their courage to face and overcome the challenges that autism brought to their lives. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Appears to be aa very honest accounting of what its like to be blindsided by the condition of severe autism for both the victim and those who love him. The canine/human connection in this case is huge in implication and insight with respect to the workings of the young mind.
I_like_clean_reads More than 1 year ago
Like another reader, I was disappointed in this book, mainly because the entire book does not focus on how the Golden Retriever, Henry, helps severely autistic Dale. Too much of the book is devoted to Nuala's attempts to become pregnant, with the last 70 pages or so being devoted to her pregnancy with Amy who ends up being mildly autistic. BUT, what did me in with this book was the author's admission that she told her son, Dale, to tell those that were bothering or harrassing him (he was a teenager at this point) to "F*** Off!" What type of a parent teaches their child that? Sorry, folks, but that did it for me. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I purchased this book a few years ago when I was on Oxford, England.  It beautifully depicts the struggles a family endures when a child has Autism.  I highly recommend it.  It is a valuable tool also, for teachers.  I give it 5 stars!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A very heart warming story. As a mother of a child on the Autism Spectrum and I work with special needs kids, I found this book to be very good. One of my favorites. I laughed and I cried. I so understand this mother and I want to thank her for sharing her story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book so funny
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