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on 4 June 2009
I liked this book the first time I read it. Then I went and read it again, and realised that very little of the book is actually about the boy and his dog. Most of the book appears to be about the mother and her struggle to get the boy recognition and help for his autism - very worthwhile perhaps, but it seems to be all about her and what she has done for her son. Perhaps 50 pages of the book are about the dog, mostly when he goes to live with them, then a few mentions here and there throughout the book, then at the end. Hardly worth the title, should have been a Boy, a Mum and a Dog.
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on 5 June 2010
There are so many reviews that tell you what the story is about, that I wont repeat all the details but instead tell you why I think it's worth the five stars.

On a more personal note, I actually live about an hours drive from where this family live and that made the reading of the story that more personal.

I have four friends with autistic children (two that are very close friends) and the exceptional descriptions of Dale's behaviour that Nuala wrote, were like "eureka" moments for me when I was like "aha" I remember "x" doing that and so on (before they were diagnosed).

I found the book exceptionally educational (as well as emotional and humorous!). I came away at the end with enormous respect for Nuala and her husband Jamie. The reason I put in the title of this review as being hopefully life changing is because I now fully hope to actually approach the parent of a child having a tantrum and ask if they need help instead of immediately judging them and thinking the child just needs discipline. I know this will be exceptionally hard to do because even my friend with the autistic child says she still jumps to that conclusion when she sees bad behaviour in a child. But I did put some of my intentions into practise on holiday recently: As a family we were playing pool in the games room and this boy came up and started to tell us where to aim and what balls to go for. I started rolling my eyes and grimacing at my other half before I suddenly thought to myself that maybe he might be aspbergers and this was his obsession and I then was just content to let him get on with it. This could of course been nothing to do with it but if nothing else, if I've learnt to be a little more tolerant as a result of reading this book I'm happy with that positive outcome.

One of my friends is very much invovled with the school at Struan and could tell me that the picture Dale drew of Henry (shown in the book) is on display at the school (the book doesn't do it justice) and to this day Dale works with children with autism.

One of the things that this book screams is the lack of support for family with children who are not "normal" and I have realised only this second that I have been behaving in a different manner with my children since I read the book. I have one who has co-ordination problems, and one who is just a handful...the book made me realise "is that all I have to deal with?...You are incredibly blessed" Instead of being frustrated by their difficulties I have embraced their positives which are of course plentiful. The book has as well made me passionate about supporting autism fund raising. I'm not going to wait to be asked to support what they spend their life doing...I'm going to offer to help or attend events!

I picked this book up in WH Smith for £1.99. I have been back to buy two further copies! One is being sent to my sister in the states (she works with autistic children but is also a dog lover), one has gone to my mum and my original copy has been given (by request) to the deputy head at the school where I work for his summer reading. I can't wait to ask him in August what he thought!

Nuala, Dale, Jamie and Amy may you pray that you have made "a life changing experience" in my life.
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on 31 October 2008
a friend like henry,written by Nuala Gardner and published by Sourcebooks is a parents' book about autism...with all the fluffy bits removed. Honest, blunt, significant, rewarding. A well written, meaningful and very readable book.

a friend like henry is a book that tells the reader how frustrating, enlightening and magical living with autism can be, both for the person on the spectrum and those that live in the world parallel to ours.
I am happy to say that at no time in this book is it ever implied that Dale should be 'cured' of his autism, it is obvious throughout the book that the search is for coping mechanisms and behavioral modification.

One of the things I enjoyed most was that Nuala does not claim that pet therapy is the only solution to the above dilemma but she does openly and honestly share one way of using an autistic child's obsession to their family's best advantage.

One of the things I disliked the most about this book (besides the use of all lower case for the title and author name), was the way it rewired all my emotions and made me cry every few pages. I found that I had to pace myself through this book by reading it in between several others in order to give my emotions a break. I nearly couldn't continue on reading it at the end but I am not going to tell you why, as it will 'ruin' the ending for you. However, I am happy that I did carry on.

After reading this book I am still convinced that our N3S is still the child most likely to be savaged by a dog but I picked up a few tips encouraging on behavioral modification which we will apply through other mediums.

The section where Dale 'speaks' at the end of the book along with Nuala's afterword are nice twists and are the perfect ending to what I feel is a triumph of literary honesty. This is a very special book.

I speak as both an adult Aspie and a mother of an Aspie child when I say that this book will break your heart into several pieces and then show you interesting new ways to put it back together again.
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on 31 May 2014
Jamie and Nuala have their first child, Dale and straight off Nuala a trained midwife has a sense all is not well. Severe autism is diagnosed after what was a fight to get the professionals on their side and not assume that Nuala was a neurotic mother. Loving their child very much they begin a journey to help "unlock" him from his own world and integrate him into society. Dale pushes them to the extremes, tantrums, biting, screeching and at one point Nuala is no longer sure she can manage this any more. Pleading for help she eventually gets it and with a combined effort from various professionals and the family they begin to break into Dale's world. But it is the introduction of Henry, a golden retriever that changes Dale's life forever.
A true story, at times heartbreaking that everyone should read. You know that child that you think it just badly behaved? Think again...perhaps he has been diagnosed on the autistic spectrum, please don't judge the parents for what seems like their inability to control their child. As a dog lover I adored this book, tears were shed on the last few pages. The appendix was fantastic and was written by Dale, a boy who was once written off and through the dedication of his family is now a well rounded young man living with his disability.
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on 3 July 2013
It is very difficult for a child who cannot comprehend school and when people are different they are instantly picked on! there is nothing more cruel in this world than children who are so perfect they have to become bullies and pick on the ones not so good! there is nothing more heart breaking than a parent trying to cope with a child being bullied! but when you also have to fight the authorities to prove why your child is different then it is more than just a struggle !! for anyone who had a child being bullied, picked on at school, or who is a little slow or different, they should read this book! it is light hearted but it also shows a struggle to hang in when all else fails!!!
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on 9 February 2009
This is a book about a very emotive subject, but it is so poorly written you can develop no affection for the characters.
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on 17 June 2013
I've just finished reading A Friend Like Henry , I cried, I laughed and cried again. Obviously the story continues for the Gardner family, but by the end of the book I was bursting with pride for them all.
If you are the parent or carer of an autistic child you should read this book! If you work with autistic children you should read it! Or if you are quick to judge people with children who seem to be out of control then you should most definitely read it!! This is beautifully and honestly written by Nuala Gardner but there are also parts of it written in the words of her son Dale. What an amazing family. Please read.
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on 29 December 2013
As the grandmother of a wonderful grandson with autism, I am keen to try and understand as much as possible about the condition. That it is written by a nurse and mother of an autistic boy helps keep the story factual as well as emotional. In reading the touching story of the author's sons relationship with Henry, I now see my grandson interact with my dog in a new light.
I have given my daughter this book to read in the hope that we might be able to find ways to help our little man.
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on 30 December 2012
This book should be given to all parents whose children are being investigated for a diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorder. It shows one mum's fight to obtain diagnosis and also the value of extended family support when you are dealing with this condition. Although it is a very middle class family, and they appear to have money to move house several times to make things easier for their child, something which most of us couldn't do, put that aside and just read it for the strength and confidence it will give you to do the best as you see it for your special child.
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on 30 December 2011
This is a story that is close to my heart as I work with children with autism. It allows the reader insight into the unusual, hard to understand world of children with autism, but also to understand the pain and challenges from the carer's perspective. To anyone with any experience with autism, you'll find this book articulating behaviours, stories and emotions that seem eerily familiar - and lets be honest, we all love familiarity and being able to relate to what we are reading.
But nonetheless I would recommend this book to anyone with any interest in this subject and to anyone with the patience to find an interest in this area. It made me laugh and cry, a realistic story of tragedy, but also hope.

A fantastic book for anyone who knows somebody like Dale, but also one that could be an invaluable resource to provide insight to those who have less awareness of the challenges faced, but also the unique, wonderful, endearing minds and characteristics of the Dales of this world.

Read. This. Book.
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