The Horse Boy: A Memoir of Healing

by Rupert Isaacson

horse boy

When his son Rowan was diagnosed with autism at age two, Rupert Isaacson was devastated, feeling that all the dreams he and his wife had of their child shattered away. Their lives become an exhaustive nightmare of tantrums, care, treatments and diagnosis. But one day something extraordinary happened. Rowan met Betsy, a neighbor’s mare, and a special bond seems to develop between the child and the animal. When Rupert took Rowan riding on Betsy, Rowan improved remarkably. He was struck with a crazy idea: why not take Rowan to Mongolia, the one place in the world where horses and shamanic healing intersected?

A heartwarming, spellbounding journey of a family to Mongolia, in hope of healing its autistic son. Isaacson is a travel writer, so he captures the details of the trip vividly. There are joy, set backs, doubts, fears and acceptance. I also get to understand better what autism is like. I now know not to harshly judge people as bad parents if their kids are throwing a tantrum or behaving inappropriately.

It’s also interesting how the author’s wife comment that an autistic child seems to have the essence of total enlightenment. Indeed I remember reading that detachment means that your emotion is like a sword in the water or the air, it goes through without a trace. I don’t think most people are able to do that, but Rowan does seem remarkably able to let bygone be bygone. I am also intrigued by the author’s comment of how some shamans display autistic characteristics and also how some of the shamans say that Rowan will grow up to be a shaman.

The book described a brief interview with Temple Grandin. I happened to have attended one of her presentations a few months ago (and truth be told, only knew of her then.) Listening to her then, and reading this book now, makes me wonder how autism affects a person. Can all autistic people, given the right condition, be able to blossom into someone who are not only self-sufficient, but great achievers? Or are they cases of savantism?

I highly recommend going to the Horse Boy movie site to view the photos and videos. It has some of the photos in this book’s insert and more, and it’s so much nicer to see them displayed in full color glory.

And here’s update about Rowan’s life.

Published in: on October 3, 2012 at 10:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

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