A Child's Journey out of Autism: One Family's Story of Living in Hope and Finding a Cure
a book by Leeann Whiffen
From Publishers Weekly
The story of Clay Whiffen started out no differently than that of countless others diagnosed with autism: his parents, author Leeann and her husband, Sean, felt they could only watch as their happy baby morphed into a child they did not recognize. At first, the parents, in their 20s, denied their son could be autistic. (In the foreword, Dr. Bryan Jepson writes that in the mid-1980s, autism was a rare condition—1 in 5,000 children; by the mid-1990s, it had become the most common developmental disability with 1 in 150 children diagnosed.) But soon, Leeann writes, "I feel compelled to do whatever it takes to help Clay.... I stay up all hours of the night investigating everything related to autism." As Sean worked hard to cover the cost of Clay's treatment, Leeann became a master networker. The Whiffens decided on an applied behavior analysis program, and "I press forward in sheer faith that what we do will help him." Although the book's dialogue is often stilted, Whiffen has written an inspirational and educational story. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Bookended by photos of Clay Whiffen—one as a picture-perfect but blank-eyed toddler, the other as an engaged child, smiling impishly—this is mom Leeann’s story of an obsessive quest to restore normalcy for her child, at any cost. At the outset, she and husband Sean were in denial for several months, and even then, after Clay’s diagnosis and her beginning research into the disorder and various interventions, she was unable to bring the word autism to her lips, as if the word itself condemned Clay to unknown horrors. Of the myriad options available, a program called Applied Behavior Analysis seemed to show the best anecdotal results. With the hefty annual price tag of $30,000, however, it would swallow a substantial portion of the family’s income. But Sean reasoned they would spend any amount to rescue Clay from kidnappers, so money should become a secondary consideration with autism, too. In the end, that and other costs, including Leeann’s health, proved worthwhile. Clay’s autism diagnosis was removed. An inspiring account of love, luck, and dogged determination.