“Reasonable People is a work of righteous fury, a keenly written memoir and a sustained polemic about autism. It is a literary investigation that swarms with life—I couldn’t put it down—and to read it is to be changed by its deeply felt suffering, its stubborn joy.”
“Articulate and Passionate, Savarese’s intricately crafted memoir of his son’s early years challenges us all to embrace diversity, to triumph over adversity, and to become not just reasonable people–but a reasonable society.”
Morton Ann Gernsbacher, Ph.D.
“Reasonable People is at once an extraordinary story of one boy’s complex emergence into language and connection, and an urgent manifesto for every human being’s right to self-determination and love. ‘I try to get free you try’ writes DJ Savarese. With poetry, humor, and a fierce intelligence as deep as it is wide, Ralph Savarese—together with his son—shows us how.”
“Through the methodical, careful teaching of the meaning of language, DJ, a non-verbal person with autism, was able to successfully communicate his shocking family history. This book will be exceedingly valuable for all parents and teachers who are working with non-verbal individuals.”
“This is a book about…transformative love….It is a critique of who we are, and a promise of who we might be, and it is written with both passion and eloquence.”
“As well as being an engaging memoir, Reasonable People’ enriches our understanding of autism. I hope, and expect, that Reasonable People may do for autism what Michael Berube’s Life As We Know It did for Down syndrome. Together these parental memoirs encourage the inclusion in public schools and public life of children who were once thought not to belong there. The value of such books is immeasurable, and to write a good one requires a combination of narrative and descriptive skill, good judgment, compassion, and ruthless self-analysis. Reasonable People has all the necessary features. It is a remarkable achievement.”
G. Thomas Couser
“Reasonable People is the story of a homemade disability rights movement, one that defies many contemporary institutional and social service expectations about autistic children. This is also a book with a historian’s care for facts and a poet’s concern with emotional candor. It belongs on the shelf with the best work in disability history and memoir.”
“This is the crucial book, a gem of clarity and hope for anyone who wishes to understand the experience of subjectivity in autism. As the father writes about his son’s traumatic history in this very book, his son is listening. This book shows us how an entry into language, which finally gives DJ his own story, also imposes traumatic memories, nightmares and anguished fears. Mr. Savarese shows us the place where language itself is traumatizing, breaking into the logic of the body’s responses and imposing another, intergenerational logic. As DJ learns a world of words through his mother’s steely dedication to provide him an education, he tunes into his father’s signifiers, emerging from his isolation in a way that most would predict would be impossible. As a clinician who works with children, I am humbled by the scope of a single family’s love and its effect on their child’s voice in the world.”
Annie Rogers, Ph.D.
“Reasonable People is the story of a passionate family and their journey with and of their adoptive son DJ as he dances with the shadows of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder whilst trying to tame the wildness of mind and emotion which won’t listen fluently to each other and the blessing and curse of a dramatically divided identity. Struggling to develop comprehensible interpretive language until late childhood, and often being simultaneously emotionally and behaviorally ‘feral’, I can deeply relate to DJ’s struggles.
As someone for whom typing gave me my own first look at an intelligent, deep and caring person which testing and observation hadn’t found, I stand by and stand up for the celebration of typing which allowed DJ to channel his own functionally non-verbal chaos into a ray of hope that is typed language. Here, he could demonstrate a wholeness of self, a passionate and compassionate self and artistic self, which could progressively allow him to work through the labyrinth of divided identity, deal with his abusive and traumatic past, his transition into adoption and the foreignness of a caring and committed family and beyond to the goal of an empowered and empowering life as a young adult.
Ralph Savarese’s book is only one story of trauma, adoption and of autism, each of which will have many faces, many manifestations. But it is an important one as a contribution to the diversity of literature on the combination of these three and maintains an open minded, humanistic and holistic view throughout. DJ’s final chapter is a wonderful addition to the growing genre of works by those with autism whose typing is as valid and equal a form of communication as signing is to many in the deaf community.
Donna Williams, Dip Ed, BA Hons
“In this comprehensive, charming book about the author’s adopted autistic child, DJ, Savarese covers a wide swath of literary, socio-cultural, educational, and psychological influences on the rearing of a challenging, often unruly, mute young child. The reader is intriguingly led by the hand through the trials and triumphs of parents finding their way to engage their child, and seeking the family and educational services appropriate to his condition. We learn about DJ’s horrific past with his biological parents and foster caretakers. Gratefully we read of how a youth, together with his dedicated, nurturing parents, learns to communicate with his adoptive family in any way he can, stemming the often inexorable tide of anguish and despair that children like DJ experience. An inspiring, informative read.”
Karen Zelan, Ph.D.
“I loved the book, although it really was painful to read about DJ’s life in foster care. The awesome dedication of Emily and Ralph transformed a hurt, isolated, non-verbal, autistic boy into a wonderful advocate for facilitated communication and inclusion in education and the community.”