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Strange Son: Two Mothers, Two Sons, and the Quest to Unlock the Hidden World of Autism
by Portia Iversen

Published by Riverhead Books

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Portia Iversen was an award-winning art director and television writer whose life changed irrevocably when her son Dov was diagnosed with autism at the age of two. As she and her husband, Jon Shestack, sought treatments for Dov and struggled to understand what was happening, they were stunned to learn that almost nothing was known about the disorder and only a handful of researchers were even studying it.

Faced with little hope of a medical breakthrough in Dov's lifetime, Iversen and her husband started the foundation Cure Autism Now, knowing that speeding up the pace of autism research might be the only meaningful thing they could do to help their son.

One day Iversen heard about a severely autistic nonverbal boy in India whose mother had taught him to read, write, and communicate. Soma Mukhopadhyay's methods were unorthodox, and her tools surprisingly simple -- just a piece of cardboard with the alphabet written on it -- but her achievement was astonishing: not only could Tito communicate, but he had an IQ of 185 and wrote beautiful poetry. Iversen realized that Tito could provide an unrivaled window into autism, and she organized a visit to the United States for the boy and his mother and arranged for some of the country's top scientists to study him.

Strange Son is the captivating account of these two families and how their personal journeys into autism intersected for a time and allowed Tito to explain to scientists the startling differences in his sensory perception, giving them insights that reframed the very definition of autism, and challenging everything we thought we knew about it.

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pub date: 2006-12-28 | hardcover | 9781573223119