Thursday, January 31, 2008
WITH THE LIGHT (Vol. 1): RAISING AN AUTISTIC CHILD
By Keiko Tobe
Hachette Book Group, September 2007
(Vol. 2 to be published March 2008)
Review copy received at NCTE
This is an amazing book.
520+ pages of native manga (a graphic novel read right to left), originally published in Japan, this is the story of a young fictional Japanese couple whose first child is autistic.
Masato, the father, is a workaholic whose hope for his new son, Hikaru, is that he will “move up the corporate ladder like the shining sun.” Sachiko, the mother, tries hard to be the perfect wife and mother, but increasingly, she realizes that Hikaru is not like other babies.
Sachiko deals with in-laws and friends who assume she is not a good mother, doctors who misdiagnose Hikaru with deafness, anger at a child who will not respond to her, and frustration and despair when it seems her marriage will fall apart because of Hikaru.
As Sachiko learns about autism and about how to care for and find appropriate schooling for Hikaru, she also finds supportive professionals and true friends. She and Masato rescue their marriage and learn to work together to help Hikaru grow in his own way toward the goal that he will grow up to become a “cheerful, working adult.”
The book is full of information about autism, accurate portrayals of positive and negative reactions toward autistic children and their parents, and examples of the kinds of accommodations that often help autistic children to succeed in a mainstream classroom. Because it is in the format of a graphic novel, the story feels very immediate and real. You identify with Sachiko and understand the range of emotions she goes through as she grows as a parent through her stuggles to love and care for Hikaru.