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Would you like to go driving with Raymond Babbitt (portrayed by Dustin Hoffman in the 1988 movie Rain Man), go shrimping with Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks in the 1994 movie by the same name), or simply share the innocence of James Robert “Radio” Kennedy (Cuba Gooding Jr., 2003, Radio)?

Many publishers who have supported books about childhood disabilities (including Autism) have cautioned authors that personal experiences are not in demand. Over the past decade more than 100 books written by the family members (dominantly parents) of people with autism, Asperger’s, and a few other disorders have been marketed. Generally these works emphasize the commitment of parents, the struggles and difficulties presented by living with and caring for and about persons with disabilities, challenges faced day to day including those presented by the systems to be navigated, and associated triumphs and related “cures.”

Rain Boy is entirely different. There is no attempt to call attention to anyone but Shane and the evidence of how he is special through his communications with his father. The book, in fact, has a very refreshing focus and is fundamentally a celebration of the gifts and challenges accompanying the life of one child with autism.

The charm and tragedy are conveyed through a number of illustrative anecdotes. These vignettes highlighting Shane’s disabilities, challenges, savant, and more were first shared with family and selected close friends. The anecdotes underscore some of the characteristics of his disorder.

It is unfortunate that countless other scenarios have eluded preservation and many more have been censored. The rationale to share with a broader audience now is to raise awareness and understanding, to find readers who empathize and recognize such stories put into the contexts of their own personal experiences, and to otherwise entertain all readers.