Synopses & Reviews
A remarkable testament of hope and love, these pages recount Howard Butens lifelong journey working with autistic children. For three decades his pioneering, often controversial approaches have enabled him to gain access to their strange and
solitary universe—a universe he shares in a book that is unlike any youve ever read.
From his first unforgettable encounter with a wild, clawing human hurricane in the form of a little boy named Adam S., clinical psychologist Howard Buten has sought ways into the seemingly closed world of the autistic child. Whether hes done this by
letting himself be pummeled, scratched, and bitten, or by imitating the childs behaviors, or by feeling himself into what the child must be feeling, he has often been
rewarded. With extraordinary insight and in ways that are powerfully moving, he brings to life as never before the innermost selves of these children.
Among those youll meet in the clinic he founded in Paris are Lise, whose seemingly random movements are as expressive as a dancers; Florian, who can instantly tell
you on which day of the week your birthday falls for any year, past or future; Martin, whose nonstop speech echoes the angry voices he has heard all around him, but who is impervious to the emotions they contain; and Hakim, a child so lost and so violent, no other institution will take him.
Writing with a scientists clarity and a humanists heart, Buten conveys the reality of autism with passion, ruthlessness, humor, wisdom—and love. This is a book both heartbreaking and hopeful, and when he succeeds in breaching the invisible wall of aloneness that seems to separate the autistic from the rest of us, we cheer.
From the Hardcover edition.
When as a young man Howard Buten encountered his first autistic child--a clawing four-year-old human hurricane who exploded into the room--he was stunned, exhilarated, and consumed by a single thought: What must it be like to be him? Today, thirty years later, this continues to be the question that has shaped Buten's life's work as a researcher, clinical psychologist, therapist, and founder of a noted clinic for the autistic in Paris. Seeking to know this--becoming Adam, or Tom or Ali or Ludivine or the others we meet here--has on occasion allowed him remarkable access to the closed off-world of the autistic. Autism has many faces; and whether they are violent and hyperactive or inert and gentle, verbal or mute, severely retarded or startlingly brilliant, all those with the condition are marked by an air of aloneness, locked behind an invisible wall. But Buten has broken with traditional methodology to breach that wall, and each individual with whom he works comes dramatically to life. We follow case after case, we want to laugh and weep, we hold our breath--and when he succeeds in breaking through to the self within, we are ready to cheer. Packed with drama, told with brilliance, and clarified by theoretical content that elucidates the process unfolding before our eyes, this book conveys the frightening, and fascinating reality of autism with wild originality--and with insight, passion, ruthlessness, humor, and love.
About the Author
Howard Buten, Ph.D., is the founding director of the Adam Shelton Center in Paris, and divides his time between Paris and New York. He also practices two other professions: as a performing artist in Europe, he is the theatrical clown-mime Buffo, and he is the author of seven novels published in France. His first novel, Burt
, was also published in the United States in 1981, and was republished here in 2000 asWhen I Was Five I Killed Myself.
From the Hardcover edition.