Reasonable People: A Memoir of Autism & Adoption
by Ralph James Savarese
(Other Press, 2007, 463 pages)
Ralph Savarese and his wife Emily never intended to have children, but when Emily, an inclusion specialist for disabled children, met D.J. their family was forever changed. This memoir is new father and English professor, Ralph Savarese’s, account of adopting a traumatized non-verbal autistic boy and the challenges they overcame together, including teaching D.J. to communicate. D.J. entered the Savarese’s lives in small doses, but there was an immediate connection between D.J. and his would-be father. However, it would be years before the drudgery of bureaucracy would allow the boy and his family to become legally bound, and many more years after that before D.J. would begin to heal from the physical and mental pains he experienced in foster care.
For parents, and especially educators, or even those who just want to better understand autism, this book will keep you glued to its pages. As a former behavioral aide to children just like D.J., my heart was wrenched by D.J.’s story. It is a painful story of both physical and sexual abuse, but it is also a story of hope, inspiration, and love. D.J., a poet like his father, and a political activist wants autistic children to be literate and challenged, and he is a proponent of the controversial facilitated communication technique he uses to communicate. It is scary to think that kids like D.J. are left to perish with no skills to communicate in institutions every day in our country. Read this book, and be more than reasonable. Be a person who knows better.