Anyone who has a child with any type of autism will relate to “Ketchup Is My Favorite Vegetable,” a revealing memoir by Liane Kupferberg Carter in which she chronicles the turbulent upbringing of her son Mickey.
An axiom in the autism community is “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism,” about which Carter writes: “Some people on the spectrum may struggle with empathy; others can feel overwhelmed by other people’s feelings. Then there is everyone in between. You know what? That’s why we call it a spectrum.”
Carter recounts a torturous timeline from when Mickey was first found to have a speech deficit and learning difficulties to his eventually being diagnosed with autism, and she laments the time it took to get any kind of effective treatment.
Her frustration at the entire system is palpable, but she agonizes over whether she could have done more initially to help her struggling offspring.
“I’d continually felt as if there was one more therapy, one more intervention, one more special diet out there to try. That it would be the critical one, the magical, miraculous one that had eluded us. And that if we didn’t try, we weren’t good parents,” Carter writes.
The book covers the two decades after Mickey’s diagnosis and provides an often harrowing journey through adversity to ultimate fulfillment, with Carter recounting the frustration and despair that preceded a semblance of normality in Mickey’s troubled young life.
Charlatans along the way who profess cures to the family include the appropriately named Dr. Lawless, who was barred from practicing medicine after writing opiate prescriptions to fake patients, then using the drugs himself.
The book is a touching, personal account of the boy’s precarious existence, told with tenderness and honesty by a mother who never gives up.
Ketchup Is My Favorite Vegetable
By Liane Kupferberg Carter
Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 352 pages, $18.95