Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post but I was given a copy of this book for review. I will sometimes refer to it as Ketchup.
“Mickey was the exact same child we’d had before the diagnosis.”
This line is found on page 30 of Liane Kupferberg Carter’s family memoir Ketchup is my Favorite Vegetable, encapsulates my thinking about children with any diagnosis.
We live in a time of labels. Those that are familiar with my writing know that I am not a fan of labels. And like Mrs. Kupferberg Carter, I believe that a child is still the same person, with or without a label.
Everything you love about your child is still there, regardless of a diagnosis.
I am not familiar with all of the nomenclature involved with autism, PDD, or even ADHD. But what I am familiar with is the sick feeling in the pit of your stomach when someone tells you there is something wrong with your child.
Reading the first chapter of Ketchup, I got pretty emotional. The author’s son was diagnosed in the early 90’s, around the time when I was diagnosed with ADHD. This time period seems to be significant for both Autism Spectrum and ADHD research.
I’m just going to say outright that the way this family was treated was awful. I cannot imagine how painful it was to recall the way supposed medical professionals spoke to these two well-meaning parents. Liane Kupferberg Carter and her husband Marc did everything right; they sought out the best evaluation and care for their young son.
During one appointment they were told, “don’t expect higher education for your son.” I felt like I had been stabbed when I read that line. As I read this portion over and over my initial sadness was replaced with anger. The physician in question apparently lacked some of the “empathy” and “socialization” that she had so callously pointed out to the parents of a toddler.
Ever heard the expression “the pot calling the kettle black?”
After their initial shock, this brave family moved forward and looked for appropriate therapies and educational opportunities for their son. At one point they were even taken advantage of by a less-than-reputable doctor. If that experience wasn’t bad enough, their son began having seizures which led to a formal diagnosis of Pervasive Development Disorder.
Seizures landed young Mickey in the hospital several times over the years. He was subjected to a battery of tests as well as numerous medications. Unfortunately, the medications that treated the seizures also slowed his cognitive processing. Throughout my reading of this book I continually wondered what the author’s son might have been able to achieve academically if the seizures had not come into play so early in his educational process.
One of the most important parts of this book, in my opinion, is that it demonstrates how unscrupulous people can be, even when they are supposed to be “experts.” I admire the Carter family’s willingness to try almost anything that might help their son. And I could see myself falling into the same traps had I been forced to make those terrifying decisions.
I particularly enjoyed the details the author included about her family. The Carter’s oldest son Jonathan is mentioned throughout the book. His ability to communicate with and mentor his younger brother is quite inspirational. He grew up in the midst of his parents struggle, and matured into an amazing adult.
The Carter’s prove that a marriage can withstand almost anything if there is humor and mutual respect. The couple obviously prioritized each other and their relationship outside of their role as parents. They were solid support for each other as they navigated the world of parenting and special education. It was heartening to read that they took a dream vacation together later in the book.
Autism, ADHD, PDD …whatever the diagnosis, is so much bigger than just the person it describes. It impacts every human relationship it touches. Every member of the family is living with the diagnosis.
I wouldn’t describe Ketchup is my Favorite Vegetable as a simple parenting book because it is more than that.
Ketchup will appeal to a range of potential readers including parents going through the diagnosis process with their own child, and couples who are starting the complicated journey of raising a special needs child. This book is an excellent read for the siblings of those with an Autism diagnosis.
In case I am not being clear enough – I highly recommend this book. The writing is relatable and entertaining to read. The author maintains humor and dignity when writing about the most harrowing of experiences. Her writing style
is warm and inviting. I felt like I knew her at the end, which is what I look for in a book.
Ketchup is my Favorite Vegetable is about family and hope. It is the perfect balance of parenting honesty, raw story-telling, and hopeful memoire.
Liane Kupferberg Carter’s work has been featured in the New York Times blog Motherlode and the Huffington Post. For more information visit her website www.lianekcarter.com.
You can purchase her book here.: