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book review: "Love That Boy"...

Saturday, September 24, 2016
...by a man who was a journalist, correspondent assigned to the White House for years. His name is Ron Fournier, a parent of a son with Aspergers' syndrome, on the autism spectrum. Lorie is Tyler's mom, and pushed Ron into taking a number of road trips with Tyler, for them to spend time together. It was supposed to expose Tyler to the world, and build a relationship between father and son. They visited a number of presidential home places, preserved for visitation by the general public, and actually visited several presidents during their time together.

The title of the book comes from a comment Pres. Bush made after Ron and Ty went to the White House when the Press corps has an opportunity to meet with the sitting President while the residence is decorated for the holidays. Normally spouses/dates will accompany journalists, but Lori insisted Tyler should have the experience. One of the things Lori hoped for, as a mom who has struggled with helping a child fit into the educational system as he learns basic coping skills, is for Ron to help Tyler learn how to 'read faces'. To be able to look at people's expressions and begin to develop the ability to understand what language means in conversation as he would interact with other people. Not a skill that comes easily to children with Asperger's. Which is why they seem to have a knack for highly inappropriate responses, comments, emotions in social settings.

The biggest thing Ron learned was the value of acceptance. To see that he needed to devote less of his time with Tyler by being embarrassed or making amends to perfect strangers. And more time enjoying his son, meeting him on equal footing. Tyler is extremely bright, with a near photographic memory, comprehensive adult vocabulary, obsessive interest in history, especially stories of US Presidents. But sorely lacking in social graces, as those with Asperger's often are. Their travels helped Ron to see what a smart, able bodied capable individual Tyler is, and the potential he has for being a productive member of society. There are things in his life he will always need assistance with, but he is growing into a remarkable young man, with some amazing skills and abilities.

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