Modern Autism Moms are a strong group, and the internet makes the exchange of information and support available 24/7. Author and educator Carol Basile Ph.D. did it alone, even without her husband’s support (in addition to a lack of autism services back in the 1970s, there was also a lack of family counseling and support). Basile blazed a trail for her son at a time when an autism diagnosis came with no clear road maps.
Basile’s poignant memoir, AGAINST ALL ODDS: Our Life Journey with Autism, follows Basile and Joe’s journey out of autism’s Dark Ages. As an educator and school psychologist for 40 years, Basile dedicated her life, not only to helping Joe, but to assisting countless special needs children. AGAINST ALL ODDS takes the classic child development theories pioneered by Eric Erikson and Jean Piaget and adapts them for children and adults with autism. Rather than focusing on concrete milestones, (first words, first steps) Basile zeroes in on the emotional and cognitive life phases that all human beings face as they journey, from infants to senior citizens. Viewed in this light, people with autism are not so different from their neuro-typical peers; everyone craves love, acceptance, and self-worth. While modern autism therapies abound, Basile shows an old school way to raise an autistic child, combining a mother’s love, classic child development concepts, and common sense.
It started when her son was a toddler, flapping his hands, and Basile sat beside him and flapped her hands too. Basile didn’t just observe her son’s world, she shared it, got inside of it, until she found what motivated her son. Armed with this information, she was able to create an environment where Joe could not only learn, but thrive, regardless of which phase of life he was in. Doctors told Basile she should consider institutionalizing her young son, Joe. Instead she got him the educational support he needed, and Joe went on to earn a Master’s Degree and become a teacher and community activist (Joe is fifty-two now, and semi-retired due to a heart condition). Basile reflects on each stage of Joe’s life journey, noting what she did well, and what she could have done better. Frankly, it’s amazing she was able to achieve any of it as a single mother on a teacher’s salary in the 1970s. But where there’s a will there’s a way, and her story makes it clear that, when it came to her son, Basile had a will of iron. AGAINST ALL ODDS celebrates not only the power of a mother’s love, but the triumph of the human spirit.
There are many memoirs written by parents of autistic children, but AGAINST ALL ODDS, Carol Basile’s tale of a determined single mother rising to meet her autistic son’s educational and behavioral challenges at time when few services were available, is both unique and uplifting.
~Rob Errera for IndieReader