Reading Progress: Far From the Tree

Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity - Andrew Solomon

I've Read 221 of 976 pages


Through the odd serendipity of social media, I was led to Andrew Solomon's TED talk entitled Love No Matter What and after several other recommendations, decided to tackle his book Far From The Tree about families raising children who are "other" whether through disability, sociopathy, or genius and their paths to embracing diversity, and acceptance of the children they have.


The introduction of Far From the Tree emphasizes the process of forming horizontal identities and peer groups.  While the synopsis of Far from the Tree says that the book ostensibly focuses on the experience of parents raising children far different then their own and their path to unequivocal love, the first two chapters, the ones discussing the Deaf and Dwarfs, are as much about the "children" themselves, many of them now adults, and their formation of horizontal identities.  While the 3rd chapter, about Down Syndrome briefly mentions People First and self-advocacy groups, Mr. Solomon did not spend nearly as much time  visiting with or discussing the child's perspective and I missed it.


For Down Syndrome, deafness and dwarfism, I was an outsider looking in.  I just started the chapter on Autism, the chapter where I and my family are looking at least a bit from the inside out.  And I find it distressing that the first group he mentions is "Cure Autism Now"  which is now part of Autism Speaks. Far From the Tree was published in 2012, and the Autistic Self-Advocacy groups were likely just coming together when his research was completed (which the introduction said took about 10 years).  But while Solomon gave a relatively evenhanded discussion of the controversy over cochlear implants for deaf children and limb lengthening surgery for dwarfism, I find myself skeptical that he can get to acceptance, diversity and love for Autistic children and validation of Autistic adults if he starts with the Cure-bies.


I think I am going to put the book down for a few days for my gut negative reaction to fade so that I can listen with an open mind to what Mr. Solomon has to say.