When David Cohen's 3-year-old son, Eliot, is diagnosed as autistic, he has no idea what the condition is or what it means. He sets out on a global quest, taking in Europe, the Far East, North America and New Zealand, in order to learn more about the incurable neurological malady, which in Britain and the United States is estimated to afflict as many as one in every 150 children. He meets some of the world's leading autism researchers, clinicians, epidemiologists and educators along with other parents grappling with the same bewildering condition, including a mother who was driven to kill her autistic daughter. He pieces together the life of Leo Kanner, the scholar who first described autism in 1943. He meditates on what makes a good life, the nature of communication and the meaning of fatherhood and sonship. A Perfect World is a unique international survey, drawing on scores of lengthy interviews conducted over four years, as well as being a moving family memoir. It offers new insights on the diagnosis of autism, intervention therapy, research and special-needs learning. It is a story that will appeal to parents, teachers, community workers, health specialists and fans of travel writing alike.
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