The Horse Boy is the memoir of a journey that was made into a documentary a few years back. Rupert Isaacson is the father of an autistic son, who found a glimmer of hope in the boy’s connection with a horse. This leads to an epic journey to Mongolia, riding horses and meeting with shamans that try to heal him.
Why yes, it does sound totally insane. Don’t judge.
The first chapters, including the description of the first time Rowan meets a horse, are intense. Made more intense by the fact that Isaacson reads the audio version himself. As he describes the idea for the journey..riding horses to the middle of nowhere Outer Mongolia with a six year old autistic boy..well. I was feeling for his wife. The documentary funded the trip.
The thing Isaacson does really well is relate the tension of living with an autistic child. How you never know when there will be a tantrum and when it will be ok. And when there will be a potty accident. I remember at one point thinking that it was tiresome to listen to – except that is sort of the point. How exhausting that must be.
Also interesting is the theories from the shamans on the cause of Rowan’s autism. Spirit of a dead grandmother. Karma from daddy’s fox hunting. Mom swimming in some bad lake water. The parents dutifully attacked each thing that could be attacked. But the common thing they said was that Rowan was destined to be a shaman himself.
The milestones relayed are impressive. Rowan making his first friend. Riding by himself. Reasoning – no tantrums. And OMG with the “indoor poopie!”
The takeaway for me was that autism is different for every family and whatever the hell works can only be a good thing.