Book review: Let me hear your voice by Catherine Maurice

November 18, 2008

Title: Let me hear your voice : A family’s triumph over autism
Author: Catherine Maurice
Pages: 326

Let me hear your voice is the story of a family in which two of the children are autistic. Autism is a developmental disorder characterised by very poor verbal and non-verbal communication skills coupled with strange behaviours like hand-flapping, rocking, spinning, etc.

When Catherine’s daughter Anne-Marie was diagnosed with autism in the late 80’s it was widely beleived that autism was incurable. Worse, many people beleived that autism was caused by a distant or emotionally unavailable mother (the ‘refrigerator mother’) who failed to bond with her child. Catherine refused to accept that her daugher’s condition would not improve. She and her husband Marc set about devouring every piece of autism related literature they could find.

Eventually they stumbled across the work of Dr. Ivar Lovaas from the University of California. Dr. Lovaas was using something called behavioral therapy on very young autistic children. He had managed to bring about significant improvement in almost 50% of the children. Catherine hired a couple of therapists and set up an intensivse behavioural therapy program within a couple of months of her daughter’s diagnosis.

Her daughter responded so well to the program that she was soon indistinguishable from her peers. She was enrolled in a normal school and performed well.

Catherine was devastated when her son Michel was diagnosed as autistic. He was underwent the same home-based behavioural therapy program that his sister Anne-Marie did. Michel did not adjust to the intensive therapy as quickly as sister did, he screamed and cried and threw tantrums when forced to pay attention. Catherine and the therapists went through hell trying to get Michel to calm down. Eventually Michel began to respond to the therapy and he too improved enough to be enrolled in a normal school.

Catherine does not tell us how well her children are currently doing – do they still show signs of autism? Can they live independently? Are they capable of experiencing complex human emotions like jealousy and love?

Roughly 10% of people with autism are high-functioning i.e. they have gifts like photographic memories, fantastic math abilities, etc. I sincerely hope that Catherine’s children belong to the high-functioning category and go on to fulfill their potential.

2 Responses to “Book review: Let me hear your voice by Catherine Maurice”

  1. […] children and animals. These ideas were very convincingly debunked by Catherine Maurice in her book, Let me hear your voice, which I had read recently. I am now convinced that there is a link, however tenuous, between […]

  2. joy kissoon Says:

    To Whom It May Concern,

    I’m reading this book for the first time and if this is what’s making, or made a significant breakthrough in ASD, then I’m stunned!
    I disagree with the need to diagnose and tons of research and constant collaboration with everyone that would listen when this is NOT FIXING THE PROBLEM. This is her child, don’t she know how to love, interpret, understand the needs of a whole new person and addition to our beautiful complicated universe. My dauger had all the symptoms I was reading about in Catherine’s book and my heart ached to hold her child and comfort her in her plight with a woman that was trying desperately to make a name for herself. She blamed professionals for not giving what she requested without questions, and that I believe is beause of ignorance on her part. You do not NEED TO LABEL YOUR CHILD, for there to surface a cure.
    I knew nothing of this disorder and I had no resources but myself. I never gave up I was constantly drained but never even once questioned the intelligene of my daughter. I kept her in my arms every second of the day and night except for times when I was able to safely and securely leave her behind for reasons I couldn’t avoid. I started teaching my child from the day she was born or before birth. It took me at least 5 years to successfully improve and train my hild to the leveal matching her age group. I only worked harder when she couldn’t get the learning concept. One aspet doesn’t work successfully by itself, and incidentally you teach your child to interact with their sibblings…what you do NOT do is describe your child as a phenomen. I’m extremely good at sharing love to the needfull/needy. Why don’t we as humans know how to love each other and/ even our kids. I’m truly disappointed in this woma’s behavior and do belive she was suffering from sever depression that was passed on to her kids. I’m sincerely SORRY about the plight of Anne-Marrie.
    My heart also goes out to the character Brigget, whose work met with intense disapproval and abuse of a professional. This is the professional that listened to her daughter and set teaching and training into motion. I find it strange that her own child didn’t know how to feel in her arms, and she needed to experiment instead of simply knowing, which is what Mom are excellent at.
    The people that deserves the redit had their names changed and Ms. Catherine owned their research and work because she got resources to fund their services. This woman is a sad, very sad individual. I have no respect, or admiration for anyone that describes their child as a phemonen……anything to feel a sense of accomplishment, even selling your child that in my opinion was completely normal.
    Her child made eye contact, if your child makes eye contact for even one second that second can grow to 2 sec…then 3…4..and so on. Your child is Not mentally retarded and does NOT need to be labelled. You need to stay in your child’s life and train her to be as unique as she is capable of being.
    I have 4 kids and each one is different in personality, learning abilities and interest…We are all completely unique labelling subjects your child to a lifetime sentence all so you could feel adequate about your ignorance of their plight…..I am can’t stop crying everytime I think of my baby being born to someone who couldn’t understand her and love her completely, and wonder in sadness for all the other souls trapped in this man made disaster/life’s turmoil.
    I’m truly sorry if there are editting mistakes in my correspondance I simply couldn’t stand to reread and make corrections.
    Think about each child as if it were “YOU” TRAPPED INTO NON-EXISTANCE. n OW TELL ME HOW DO YOU FEEL???

    (Joy Kissoon)CONTINUOUS EXPERIENCE WORKING WITH THE PUBLIC IN COMMUNITY NURSING, MOST PARTICULARILY pEDIATRICS. I see these kids and no amount of money or fame could make me turn the other cheek!
    I hereby give my permission to anyone who would like to challenge any part of my submission. I’ve been there done that….. and have significant years of studies and work within a professional capacity.

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