Magazine article The New Yorker

Dealing with the Disabled

Magazine article The New Yorker

Dealing with the Disabled

Article excerpt

A specific diagnosis of a disability may provide a welcome explanation for puzzling behavior, and even offer relief through medication or therapy. But as Debra Ginsberg explains in RAISING BLAZE (HarperCollins), her memoir of bringing up her own "extraordinary" child, a diagnosis can sometimes create more questions than answers. Blaze, who was choked by his own umbilical cord during delivery, expresses himself with enigmatic figurative phrases; loud noises send him screaming around the room. The doctors' assessment was vague to the point of tautology: "pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified." Ginsberg struggles with the public-school system and its rigorous notions of acceptable behavior, where even happiness is monitored: "I am struck again by how difficult it is to navigate a world where we have to be mindful of when laughter is appropriate."

According to Jeanne Safer, in THE NORMAL ONE (Free Press), the families of disabled or difficult children also suffer. …

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