Iamshadow's Reviews > The Only Boy in the World: A Father Explores the Mysteries of Autism

The Only Boy in the World by Michael Blastland
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U 50x66
's review
Aug 26, 2008

did not like it
bookshelves: autism, autobiography, nonfiction
Recommended for: No one
Read in April, 2007 , read count: 2

This is a re-read for me; my original review was: "I expected to like this book a lot more from the reviews I read beforehand. Though Blastland's explanations for Joe's behaviour are interesting, I never really engaged with it. I may re-read it another time, to see if I 'click' better with it."

Given that in the first chapter, the author draws parallels between his son's behaviour and the behaviour of chimps and determines that chimps' social behaviour makes them more eligible for inclusion in what constitutes humanity, I really doubt I'm going to like this any better the second time around. I'm not lacking in empathy for anyone, like Blastland, who has to make the difficult decision to institutionalise their family member, but rating someone's humanity on some scale of worthiness for inclusion based on their contribution, their social adeptness and their faculty for communication is something that eugenicists have been using for centuries as the justification for all kinds of horrifying things. I think we're all human, from the most adept social genius down to the most needy, dependant person with profound disabilities of body or brain. The moment we start discounting people from the human race because of difference from the norm, permissiveness for discrimination becomes acceptable, and that's something we should all fight as hard as we can, in all its forms, from the most virulent hate-filled spiel through to the most honeyed, disguised platitude.

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