A friend like henry by Nuala Gardner – Book review

A true story of an autistic boy and the dog that unlocked his world. This book became a personal journey of reassurance and encouragement as I read through this empowering story.

Every parent waits with anticipation for the birth of their child and especially their first born. But what awaited Nuala and Jamie Gardner was ‘an unknown and harrowing journey’ for them and their cherished son Dale. ‘Every waking minute with him was a maelstrom of conflict as they plunged from one violent tantrum to the next.’

During the first 12 months, Nuala had real doubts about Dale’s early progress and voiced her concerns to many professionals. She felt that their son ‘was like a slowly ticking time bomb’. He was already two and unable to speak a single word. But there were social dilemmas too. ‘An increasing number of family and friends were expressing their concerns about Dale’s unusual behaviours – lack of speech and social interaction – and they were often confronted with judgmental stares and comments from passers-by’. To watch the child you love so much, suffering and unable to communicate his problems was more than Nuala could bear.

It wasn’t until Dale was two and a half years old that a friend suggested that her son may have autism. So, what did this mean? What would be the implications for their family? Where would this road lead? The channels for diagnosis repeatedly closed in their faces and it wasn’t until Dale was almost four that he was finally diagnosed with classic autism.

And then, who would have imagined how Thomas the Tank Engine would assist Dale and open a whole new world of learning. But the major breakthrough was still to come. When Henry, the golden retriever puppy (so named after Henry the tank engine) came into the household, even bigger things were about to happen. Dale’s life was ‘transformed from a lost and lonely child to a happy five-year-old boy’. Henry changed not only Dale but the life of the entire family and set him on the road to leading a full and normal life.

Then, when their beautiful daughter Amy was born, inner fears once more emerged in Nuala’s mind. Could history repeat itself?

This is an excellent book giving us an insight into the world of autism through the experiences of this one family. A book of inspiration and hope.

A friend like Henry can be found online at Booktopia, Dymocks, Amazon or Book Depository.

About the Author

Heather Pfeiffer

Heather is a retired school teacher and librarian, who has had personal involvement in the world of autism.

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