To Siri with Love: A Mother, Her Autistic Son, and the Kindness of Machines

To Siri with Love: A Mother, Her Autistic Son, and the Kindness of Machines

by Judith Newman


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From the author of the viral New York Times op-ed column "To Siri with Love" comes a collection of touching, hilarious, and illuminating stories about life with a thirteen-year-old boy with autism that hold insights and revelations for us all.

When Judith Newman shared the story of how Apple’s electronic personal assistant, Siri, helped Gus, her son who has autism, she received widespread media attention and an outpouring of affection from readers around the world. Basking in the afterglow of media attention, Gus told anyone who would listen, "I’m a movie star."

Judith’s story of her son and his bond with Siri was an unusual tribute to technology. While many worry that our electronic gadgets are dumbing us down, she revealed how they can give voice to others, including children with autism like Gus—a boy who has trouble looking people in the eye, hops when he’s happy, and connects with inanimate objects on an empathetic level.

To Siri with Love is a collection of funny, poignant, and uplifting stories about living with an extraordinary child who has helped a parent see and experience the world differently. From the charming (Gus weeping with sympathy over the buses that would lie unused while the bus drivers were on strike) to the painful (paying $22,000 for a behaviorist in Manhattan to teach Gus to use a urinal) to the humorous (Gus’s insistence on getting naked during all meals, whether at home or not, because he does not want to get his clothes dirty) to the profound (how an automated "assistant" helped a boy learn how to communicate with the rest of the world), the stories in To Siri with Love open our eyes to the magic and challenges of a life beyond the ordinary.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062413635
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 08/07/2018
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 375,193
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.57(d)

About the Author

Judith Newman is the author of You Make Me Feel Like an Unnatural Woman. She is a regular contributor for The New York Times Style Section and People, and is a contributing editor to Allure and Prevention. She has written for Vanity Fair, Harper’s Bazaar, The Wall Street Journal, Vogue, Redbook, GQ, Marie Claire, and Cosmo. She and her sons live in Manhattan.

Table of Contents

Author's Note ix

Introduction xiii

1 Oh No 1

2 Why? 19

3 Again Again Again 31

4 I, Tunes 49

5 Vpoom 65

6 Blush 81

7 Go 93

8 Doc 111

9 Snore 123

10 To Siri With Love 133

11 Work It 145

12 Chums 159

13 Getting Some 175

14 Toast 193

15 Bye 205

Acknowledgments 219

Resource List 225

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To Siri with Love: A Mother, Her Autistic Son, and the Kindness of Machines 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"And there is the girl behind the counter too — I would as soon have her true history as the hundred and fiftieth life of Napoleon or seventieth study of Keats...." --Virginia Woolf Judith Newman says in her new book, To Siri with Love, that there are already many books about people with autism who have done extraordinary things and also about those who are severely impaired. So she set about to write of her seemingly ordinary family, focusing on her son, Gus, who is on the spectrum. The title of the book comes from a NY Times piece she did that went viral—how the iPhone’s Siri became an inexhaustible companion for Gus, a patient oracle. That’s the hook and an important theme, but the core of the work is family. We meet the characters: John--her eccentric but loving husband; Henry--Gus’s twin, who combines the wit of Groucho Marx with the hormones of a teenage boy; Newman herself, funny and self-deprecating but fiercely protective of Gus; and Gus, who loves trains and schedules and weather and Siri. The affection and connection between mother and son is warm and deep. One of the constant themes and tensions of the book is how much will Gus progress and trying to project what will his later, adult life be like. There is no easy answer provided, of course, but the love, support, nurturing, and humor of his family provide hope. His experience with Siri underlines how technology and machines are not always distancing; they can be a bridge for people with autism to approach the human world more slowly, carefully—on their own terms. Gus’s love of his possessions is more understandable—inanimate objects are more predictable than people. The trains with human faces in a television show combine both worlds—a bridge to reading facial and social cues and understanding emotions better, perhaps. The humor of the book didn’t surprise me—Newman is known as an extremely funny writer. I rarely laugh out loud reading even most humor books, but I did here. Even being familiar with the subject, I was surprised about how much more I learned about autism as a disorder and about how it affects people. Newman works in the instruction effectively, despite the book being primarily about her family. And I was surprised at how deeply moving the book was—not only regarding the challenges and issues they all have to face, but also about the love and humor and affection of their family. In the end, Gus is happy, and rather than pity him and his family, you envy them—their connection, their laughter, their embracing of their idiosyncrasies. A wonderful book--highly recommended.