When Horse Became Saw (Extract)

Melbourne University Publishing
Meanjin, 2008, Volume 67, Number 3, 2008, pp. 85 - 91
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This extract comes from a book-length work of creative non-fiction that documents my son's regression into severe autism at the age of eighteen months, and my family's struggle to provide him with appropriate therapy. The book will be published by Penguin Australia in March 2011. It was funded by two New Work grants from the Literature Board of the Australia Council (2006, 2008), as well as an Early Research Project Grant from UTS, and a Faculty Project Grant from UOW. This 2008 Meanjin extract received enthusiastic media attention in a review in the Age newspaper (13/08/2008), and in an ABC Radio broadcast (2/08/09). The extract depicts the initial stages of my son's regression, which lays the foundation for the book's structure. This comprises both narrative and researched components, and applies an innovate methodology to the creative non-fiction genre: the bodies of knowledge required to understand and treat autism as well as a critical appraisal of them become part of the lived experience dramatised in the narrative. The research underpinning the extract is extensive, and falls into two areas. The first is the investigation of clinical matters: aetiologies and definitions of autism (DSM-IV); the history of behaviourism (Skinner) and the autism-specific therapy Applied Behavioural Analysis (Lovaas). The second deals with social and ethical issues, and investigates inadequate public resourcing and its consequences for children with autism and their families.
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