Finding Ben ( A mothers Journey through the maze of Asperger’sParents, Story Relating to Autism
One mother’s remarkable journey from resentment and guilt to unconditional love. Barbara LaSalle’s first son, Ben, seemed to be an extraordinarily gifted child. For the first few years of his life, he amazed his mother with his brilliance and creativity, speaking in full sentences before age one and reading competently by age two. Yet lurking beneath this boy genius’ amazing abilities were a crippling social aloofness and fear of change. Ben had an encyclopaedic mind – he could memorize maps of big cities, storing information like a minicomputer – but his face and voice showed no emotion. Losing her child to his own inner world, LaSalle’s joy of motherhood soon turned to misery, resentment, and guilt. For years, she remained unaware that Ben suffered from Asperger’s Syndrome – the “little grownup” disorder – a neurological condition considered a high-functioning form of autism. In this frank, emotionally written account, Barbara LaSalle reveals what it’s really like to parent a child with a neurological disorder, communicating her son’s unique perception of the world while describing her own struggle to love an “unpresentable” son. Burdened for many years with the fear that the world might look at Ben and somehow see her own failure, LaSalle is now able to delve deep into her own story, and Ben’s, to tell the unvarnished truth, painting a powerfully honest portrait of how a mother’s love can turn into bitterness at having to raise a special-needs child and how, by opening herself to the wisdom of others, she can at last learn to love her child – and herself – once again. With two remarkable stories to tell, “Finding Ben” is both a fascinating look at a baffling neurological disorder and the profound story of one mother’s personal journey from frustration and resentment to love and acceptance.