Friday, May 18, 2012

Next Stop, the Moving Memoir of an Autistic Adult

I’ve read a handful of books through the years about families with autistic children and they were very enlightening. The reason this book captured my attention was partially related to excellent writing and almost as much related to the fact that this is not a book about an autistic child. This is the first book I’ve ever read that dealt with what happens when that child grows up, and tries to enter the world of grownups. What happens when he desires the things adults get to do, but doesn’t necessarily have the ability to strike out on his own? Ms. Finland’s son, David, is at the end of his school years when the book begins to tell his story. Riding the metro in his hometown of Washington, D.C. proves to be one way he can start to earn his parent’s trust and slowly see what it’s like to navigate life on his own. Throughout the book, woven in with other stories of his struggle to become an adult, are stories of David’s adventures on the metro. He sometimes gets lost. He sometimes joins charismatic groups who recruit members at Metro stations, and is at one point swayed politically because of a cup of hot chocolate handed to him by a pretty young Democrat. The book beautifully lays out the give and take that comes with being a parent to a young adult who doesn’t follow the standard course of life. After all the years of fighting for equal opportunities in the school system, what happens when graduation is behind you and decades of life are still ahead?

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