Female; children: Ben. Education: Earned Ph.D.
Marriage and family therapist and documentary filmmaker. Former a kindergarten teacher. Lecturer and workshop leader; advocate for people with neurobiological disorders.
(With Benjamin Levinson) Finding Ben: A Mother's Journey through the Maze of Asperger's, Contemporary Books (Chicago, IL), 2003.
Barbara LaSalle wrote her memoir of raising her son Ben, who for years suffered from an undiagnosed illness. Ben was born in 1969 and could read and speak before he could walk. Gifted in some senses, his social abilities lagged behind due to his inability to handle changes in daily routines or loud noises, his lack of coordination, and his aversion to grooming. Ben also had many physical ailments, including Crohn's disease, asthma, crossed eyes, and obesity. LaSalle strove, often unsuccessfully, to find schools and friends who would accept her son and doctors who could pinpoint what ailed him. Ben bounced through many group homes and mental institutions, and even landed in jail. LaSalle was frustrated and found herself sometimes disgusted with her own child. In Finding Ben she is frank about her feelings of anger that her child was not "normal," and she confronts her own failure to deal with the situation.
Ben was diagnosed at age twenty-five with Asperger's syndrome, an autistic spectrum disorder. LaSalle and her son were relieved to have a diagnosis, and the book ends shortly after they achieve this success. Corey Seeman, writing for Library Journal, noted that "LaSalle does a good job of showing the thin line between gifted and disabled that exists with Asperger's children." A reviewer for Kirkus Reviews called the book "an introspective, honest account that may offer solace, if not hope, to other families coping with challenging children."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, April 1, 2003, Donna Chavez, review of Finding Ben: A Mother's Journey through the Maze of Asperger's, p. 1362.
Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2003, review of Finding Ben, p. 210.
Library Journal, February 15, 2003, Corey Seeman, review of Finding Ben, p. 155.
Aspergerjourney.com,http://www.aspergerjourney.com/ (June 1, 2003), "Barbara LaSalle."*