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The horse boy : a father's quest to heal his son
Rupert Isaacson
Adult Nonfiction RJ506.A9 I795 2009

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From Publishers' Weekly:

In this intense, polished account, the Austin, Tex., parents of an autistic boy trek to the Mongolian steppes to consult shamans in a last-ditch effort to alter his unraveling behavior. Author Isaacson (The Healing Land) and his wife, Kristin, a psychology professor, were told that the developmental delays of their young son, Rowan, were caused by autism. Floored, the parents scrambled to find therapy, which was costly and seemed punitive, when Isaacson, an experienced rider and trainer of horses from his youth in England, hoisted Rowan up in the saddle with him and took therapeutic rides on Betsy, the neighbor's horse. The repetitive rocking and balance stimulation boosted Rowan's language ability; inspired by the results, as well as encouraged by such experts as Temple Grandin and Isaacson's own experience working with African shamans, Isaacson hit on the self-described crazy idea of taking Rowan to the original horse people, the Mongolians, and find shamans who could help heal their son. The family went in July, accompanied conveniently by a film crew and van, which five-year-old Rowan often refused to leave, and over several rugged weeks rode up mountains, forded rivers and camped, while enduring strange shamanic ceremonies. Isaacson records heartening improvement in Rowan's firestormlike tantrums and incontinence, as he taps into an ancient, valuable form of spirit healing. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Verdict: Isaacson's memoir of traveling to Mongolia in an effort to help his autistic son is weak on the autism sections and recommended as a result for travel collections only. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 1/09.] Background: Travel writer Isaacson (Healing Land) chose Mongolia so his five-year-old autistic son, Rowan, could ride horses and to seek out shamans capable of "curing" Rowan. While Isaacson can masterfully evoke the Mongolian landscape and shaman ceremonies, his presentation of autism is wanting: Rowan's "recovery" on this short trip feels simplistic and superficial. For those seeking to connect meaningful animal experiences with autism, a much better choice would be Nuala Gardner's A Friend Like Henry.-Corey Seeman, Kresge Business Administration Lib., Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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