picture perfect family

MY PICTURE PERFECT FAMILY:
What Happens When One Twin Has Autism
http://margueriteelisofon.com/

By Marguerite Elisofon

In their family photos, the Elisofons look like they stepped out of a Hollywood movie—handsome father, beautiful mother, adorable son hugging his twin sister as she beams a radiant smile. The reality was quite different.

Out of the 11,600 children who were born today, some 171 will be diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). Receiving this news can be heartbreaking for parents whose fondest wish is to have a healthy child. Marguerite and Howard Elisofon were first alarmed, and then overwhelmed, when their daughter Samantha was diagnosed as being on the Spectrum. The family’s struggle to understand ASDs and find the optimal interventions—in the days before internet resources and autism parenting groups—are at the heart of the compelling memoir MY PICTURE PERFECT FAMILY: What Happens When One Twin has Autism by Marguerite Elisofon (Central Park Publishers; April 4, 2016).

Marguerite and Howard Elisofon eagerly anticipated starting a family. After receiving medical help to conceive, Marguerite joyfully found herself pregnant with twins. Born after only 33 weeks, Samantha’s introduction to the world was much more challenging than her brother’s. The differences between the twins continued to escalate after they left the hospital. The Elisofon’s overly sensitive infant daughter grew into a toddler who fell further and further behind her twin in language and cognitive development. Finally, at the urging of family members, they sought professional help and received the diagnosis they feared—their daughter was on the Autistic Spectrum.

MY PICTURE PERFECT FAMILY paints an engaging and at times heart-wrenching picture of the courage it takes to raise and advocate for a child who is far more than the sum of her ever-shifting diagnosis. Elisofon details the therapies, treatments, school searches and day-to-day victories of a little girl who so desperately wanted to fit into a world that didn’t understand her. She shares the considerable challenges met by the entire family including Samantha’s twin brother, Matthew. And she reveals the eventual triumphs as Samantha grows into a young woman who discovers a hidden gift for singing and pursues a college degree.

ASDs are the fastest growing developmental disabilities in the United States with an increase in diagnoses from 1 in 150 in 2000 to 1 in 68 in 2016 (1 in 42 for boys). Elisofon’s memoir is a stark reminder of the human being behind the diagnosis and the important work we must do in order to offer these children and young adults their best and brightest future.

MY PICTURE PERFECT FAMILY:
What Happens When One Twin has Autism
Marguerite Elisofon
Central Park Publishers; April 4, 2016
$14.95; 276 pages
ISBN: 978-1-938595-04-2

My Comments: I loved this book! Our school houses the autistic population in our district, and I, myself, have had a couple of high functioning autistic children in my second grade class. I found this book extremely informative from the families point of view. I feel that the Elisofons were very fortunate to be able to afford all of the help they were able to provide for their daughter. It was very enlightening to read about all the help available and how it actually helped (or didn’t). Also, since Samatha and Matthew were twins, I loved reading Matthew’s point of view and feelings. I could definitely relate to the mom, Marguerite. The marriage of Marguerite and Howard was very strong, even with all of the challenges a special needs child brings to the plate. I highly recommend this book to families dealing with autism and/or other special needs children.

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