"No Map to This Country" - compelling new autism memoir
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Author:  NNNNoonan [ Wed May 18, 2016 3:11 pm ]
Post subject:  "No Map to This Country" - compelling new autism memoir

I am the mother of two autistic children, and the author of a new autism memoir titled "No Map to This Country." Here's a very short excerpt to give you a feel for the tone:

"Part of the torture of autism is that the future is so impossibly unsure. Your child might become a fully functioning member of society and appear no different than anyone else, even if he does have to look at mouths instead of eyes and can't stand to give his own kids a bath. Or, he might be so violent that he requires institutionalization...Either way, you're expected to work your ass off for it."

For a much longer excerpt, you can visit my website, Our experiences with dietary treatments for autism play a big role in the story, and I am also the owner of the large recipe website

I'd be very happy to answer any questions about the book, our experiences, or the things that worked for us (they were different for each child.) I will also respond to PMs if you want to keep personal questions off the board. Thanks very much for offering this great forum!


Author:  ppowers1124 [ Tue May 24, 2016 3:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: "No Map to This Country" - compelling new autism memoir

It's nice to meet you Jennifer. I too am a mom to a young autistic son. We have something in common. We both have a child/children with autism and we both wrote a book about it.

My autism journey started with my son when he was about 14 months old and he was spinning, flapping and toe walking, wasn't talking or responding to us. We reached out for early intervention and began at about 18 months. When he aged out at 3, he began preschool. That is when my son began to socialize somewhat. And before we knew it in about 6 months he was more responsive and things were getting much better in regards to his 'classic autism' symptoms. We tried the GFCF diet for awhile but it didn't help my son. We also went the route of the biomedical approach but didn't really see many results plus it was very expensive. My son will be graduating kindergarten this year and going to a new school. He's always been mainstreamed but I'm sure the new school will pose it's challenges, but nothing we can't handle. My son is verbal but has apraxia which presents it's own challenges but is verbalizing nicely and making strides every day. He also has aggressive behaviors, but only at home so we are working with a behavior team to get that under wraps.

You are right in your statement about the future of an individual with autism. We do our best as parents but it is still an unknown future and all we can do is hope for the best, right?

Take care and be well.


Author:  NNNNoonan [ Tue May 24, 2016 5:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: "No Map to This Country" - compelling new autism memoir

Hi Paula! It's nice to meet you. I'm glad your son was able to improve with minimal intervention -- every kid needs something different, as we all know. Good luck at the new school!


Author:  NNNNoonan [ Mon May 30, 2016 7:40 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "No Map to This Country" - compelling new autism memoir

I spoke on a panel at the annual AutismOne conference in Chicago this past week. There is a lot of great medical information presented by MDs each year, but sometimes we loosen up a little as well.

Author:  NNNNoonan [ Sun Jun 12, 2016 8:34 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "No Map to This Country" - compelling new autism memoir

Very flattered to receive this new review of my book:

You need to understand that when I marvel at the skill with which "No Map to this Country" engages the reader, draws him into the story, and maintains breathtaking suspense until the very end, all the while effortlessly educating that reader in complex medical discoveries and controversies, this is not the reaction of an easy mark. I am a harsh critic with high standards. If you log onto the back issues of the weekly where I once toiled as a reviewer and type in my name, the first thing to come up will be the letters to the editor written by readers offended by my unflattering evaluations. I am particularly scathing when faced with shoddy writing and literary construction; one colleague remarked after an interview I conducted with NBA star Bill Walton that he was afraid Walton was going to come over the table to get at me. It was a tense exchange because I could not veil my disdain for the book he and a hack ghost-writer had produced, a memoir whose theme was the hard work required to achieve excellence which sadly displayed no inkling of how to achieve that excellence on the printed page. So when I say that this memoir by first-time author Jennifer Noonan is a dazzling accomplishment, you should understand that I am not blowing smoke.

I came to Noonan’s memoir with no expectations, and put it down utterly amazed. It is one thing for a mother faced with an unexpected and heartbreaking challenge to find the strength and wisdom to see her journey through to the end. It is quite another to capture your reader from the first page and take that reader on a journey of his own, full of suspense, dramatic turns and frequent surprises. I finished the book in a day and a half because it was so engrossing that I picked it back up the second I had finished whatever else I had to do. Before I started it, knowing only the subject, I would have told you in advance that this was not my kind of book. First person narratives telling of hard struggles in the face of dire medical adversary do not much figure in my reading. You can imagine my surprise when this one grabbed me with all the impact we expect from a bestselling thriller. It had similar ingredients: a hero with whom the reader can identify, who is thrown into a sudden crisis, struggles to get her bearings, and realizes that she must exert all her ingenuity to solve a series of puzzles, where success is anything but guaranteed, and failure will bring disaster and despair. The toll, physical and mental, is high, but the hero pushes onward in the face of one setback after another, facing a new challenge the moment another seems to have been met.

Given how compelling this book was for someone who has had only the most tangential contact with our current epidemic of autism, I need hardly say that anyone with friends or family closer to the front lines will want to read this book. Because autism is a subject that arouses controversy, I will not attempt to summarize the many discoveries the author made in the course of her fight to find an effective treatment for her stricken child. A large part of what makes “No Map to this Country” a success is the way Noonan takes the reader along on her own journey. She battles her own preconceptions and leaves behind many of her false assumptions only in the face of direct evidence. What she discovers does have relevance to larger disputes in the medical community over how autism works and how its negative effects can be minimized, but it is obvious from her story that while there are new developments in the field that everyone dealing with the condition should know, each case is its own individual puzzle, with an individual solution, if indeed it happens that any real “solution” is possible. Noonan will leave her reader with no illusions about the incredible demands an autistic child can impose, or the grueling effort required for a parent determined to that her child attain his or her full potential. The author does not sugarcoat the obstacles thrown up by the ignorance and even the malice of medical and educational professionals, to say nothing of the minefield of the insurance system. But thanks to her storytelling skills, Noonan’s readers can follow the twists and turns of her struggle with no requirements other than an open mind and a willingness to be drawn into a riveting tale.

Author:  NNNNoonan [ Fri Dec 02, 2016 11:54 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "No Map to This Country" - compelling new autism memoir

Pleased to announce that "No Map to This Country" was recently written up in a peer-reviewed medical journal. (Link is a PDF download, unfortunately there is no online text version.) Proper citation:

Psychiatric Services October 2016, Vol. 67, No. 10, pp. e16 - e17

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