The Boy in the Window by Barbara Coppo – Book Review

Morgan-James Publishing (2007)

ISBN 9781600372650

One of the things we mothers have is an incredible sense of things going wrong with our children. Barbara Coppo was no different. She and her husband Ken already had a beautiful healthy girl, when she found out she was pregnant again. She wasn’t sure how she felt about being pregnant again now that she had a great career and her daughter was a teenager, but as time went on she was very excited and hoped that this pregnancy would bring her husband and her closer together. On February 1, 1978 she delivered a healthy boy whom they named Kenny. Kenny was the center of attention for his first year of life–adored by everyone. When it came time for Kenny to have his eighteen-month shots, Barbara got a “feeling,” and wasn’t sure what was causing the apprehension. After several lengthy discussions with her pediatrician, her husband and family members, she finally decided to get him his boosters.

On September 6th, 1979, Kenny got his last series of the d.p.t. booster – his life would change forever. After a few days, Kenny wasn’t able to talk, walk or respond in his normal happy way. Even the doctor’s were stumped as to what had happened– they continued to explain that vaccines for children were very safe. And again the next day Kenny began to have convulsions — still no reason why.

This was Kenny’s life to this day– seizures, mobility problems, no friends and he has characteristics of autism. Doctor’s even had the gall to tell his mother that he was retarded. With numerous evaluations, behavioral schools, special classes and countless hours of care and research by his mother, it was realized Kenny would never be a normal child again.

Even through the years, pediatricians kept telling Kenny’s parents that vaccines were safe. Yet one doctor finally told Barbara that through research it was indicated, after the d.p.t. vaccines, that some children became autistic, mentally-challenged and some even died. This is a parent’s worse nightmare – all of us today think about the effect of vaccines on our children. Yet never once did Kenny’s parents, friends, therapists give up on him. They continued to push him to the point that he was finally able to talk through the use of facilitative communication. No one even imagined he had all those thoughts and intelligence in him. He was very aware of his challenges and knew he was different. He was also very mathematically inclined.

To this day, Kenny is a loner, but has many friends and supporters. He loves to watch people through his upstairs window. He has a set routine that no one can upset or his violent behavior will come out. But he has made great strides even though he came across many obstacles with very little support from the school systems.

How does a mother do this? You do what you have to do to save your child, never take no for an answer. Many parents of children with special needs have been through this high and low road.

Having worked with family members who have children or adult children with special challenges for over 25 years, Barbara Coppo’s story is the same for many of them. The frustration, anger and trying to figure out what they did to cause this. My personal and professional opinion is that everyone involved with children; teachers, coaches, school boards and therapists should read “The Boy in the Window” to get a first-hand knowledge of what families go through.

Book Review: Cruise Control

Robert Weiss has written a very interesting and unique book about gay men who are involved in sex addictions. Throughout he not only describes the changes that have occurred over time for the gay culture but also addresses many of the stereotypes that have been held by society.

Weiss begins by clearly defining sex addiction and the myth are surround it. He keeps it simple with statements such as “Active sex addiction is an unhealthy way to get your emotional needs met”. (Page 48).

The author describes the delicate interplay between nature and nurture as well as factors that can lead an individual into an addictive cycle. He also addresses the shame and other vulnerabilities trap the addict not only in their dysfunctional sexual patterns but also in other chemical and activity obsessions.

Knowing the differences between healthy, addictive and offending sexual behaviours can be confusing but Weiss clears up the confusion with his honest and detailed writing style. He does not generalize or label “right” and “wrong” but instead talks about the expectations and boundaries that couples have for themselves and each other. Their relationship is jeopardized when these are broken or disrespected.

When is comes to change, Weiss states that promises to self and others are not enough. The sex addict is unable to make and maintain healthy changes on his own They need a carefully designed written plan as well as support from helpful friends, professionals and others in recovery in order to maintain long-term transformation.

“Cruise Control” outlines the specific steps in detail for creating goals and writing the boundary plan. It consists of goals, beliefs and principles in three specific areas. The Inner boundary is for those behaviours that are damaging and can no longer be tolerated. The Middle boundary identifies triggers such as people, places and experiences that will lead back to addiction. The Outer boundary states the rewards that will be enjoyed as a result of the desired changes. Examples of Boundary plans are included as well as a template for creating a personal boundary plan.

Weiss uses two chapters to talk about the need and benefits for getting support from others and for obtaining appropriate therapy. He devotes a chapter to technology and provides one for partners and spouses.

It is obvious that Weiss wants the reader to understand that there are resources to help the addict and their loved ones to become healthier. Lists for Recommended Reading, Support Resources as well as a screening test are included as appendices.

This book is amazing. It provides an educational as well as a therapeutic perspective for any reader who is interested in learning more about how humans think and act. You don’t have to be gay or involved with someone who is gay in order to benefit from the wisdom that Robert Weiss has invested in “Cruise Control”.

New Book Details Mom’s Fight to Save Anorexic Teenage Son’s Life

Jessica Goering has gone through one of a parent’s worst nightmares and lived to tell the tale. Fortunately, her son also lived, but there were moments during his journey through anorexia that made future possibilities so frightening that as I read about them, they sent shivers down my spine.

Most children who experience anorexia are girls, so to have her thirteen-year-old son suddenly decide he was fat and refuse to eat was the last thing Jessica expected. Almost as bad was that his anorexia began while he was away for the summer visiting his father. When Jessica learned about his eating disorder, she flew to get him and was overwhelmed by the sight of how severely malnourished he had become in just a couple of months. Although horrified, she knew she could not limit her focus to just the exterior disarray she saw but instead needed to focus on reversing the situation and finding ways to get her son to eat and change his internal way of thinking about his body.

I won’t go into all the details of how Jessica spent a year turning around this situation. If it’s true, though, that it takes a village to raise a child, it’s even more true when it comes to helping a child reverse an eating disorder. Jessica enlisted the help of her younger son, of friends, of teachers and school counselors, psychiatrists, nutritionists, and doctors. In some cases, she found that the people she thought were trying to help really did not help, especially when it came to the medical professions. She also had to make difficult choices about whom she told about the condition and whom she kept it from. For example, when her son was invited to another child’s party, which of course would include food he was adverse to eating, should she tell the parents of the other child ahead of time about her son’s anorexia? These difficult judgment calls became a major part of Jessica’s life.

Even more, she was caught up in trying to understand and predict her son’s behavior. Her son continually claimed that he was too fat and disgusting. He had delusional ideas about the size of his body and feared hurting people and animals because of how supposedly large he was-when he was really an emaciated thirteen-year-old boy. Most terrifying of all was when he interacted with other children and suddenly his behavior became irrational. While he was only violent toward himself, at one point he began howling and climbed a tree, which frightened other children he was with. His body and brain were not getting the nourishment needed to sustain them so that his growth became stunted and it was almost like he was moving backwards in his intelligence and understanding. Jessica seriously began to fear that he would retard his development long-term.

Fortunately, through all her efforts, Jessica was able to help her son return to living a normal life, and today he is a happy and healthy teenage boy. She has written this book not only to document what happened and to share the story, but to give hope to other parents and people who have a loved one suffering from an eating disorder. She offers plenty of advice, a great deal of hope, and some eye-opening explanations for how to cope with these difficult situations as well as for understanding and predicting what will set off such behaviors.

Each chapter in the book ends with a helpful tip. For example, many parents might be obsessed with weighing their child to make sure he or she is gaining weight, but such a practice is detrimental to the child who would be horrified by weight gain, believing he or she is already too fat. Jessica’s tip is: “Blind weigh-ins are important. Avoid the scale and measuring tape unless used by a health professional and keep the information away from the child. Do not allow the child to fixate on a number or other comparative means. Prevent this as much as possible.”

Jessica also makes clear how vital it is for parents to understand that when dealing with an eating disorder, they are not dealing with their usual child whom they know and love, but a child who has had his or her brain taken over by the disorder. To make this clear, throughout the book, Jessica refers to anorexia as Terrorist Joey. From what she describes, it really did feel like a terrorist had taken over her home and was holding all her family hostage. Rational thinking cannot be expected from the child as a result of this terrorist takeover, whether it be in terms of eating, being weighed, or countless other behaviors.

Fortunately, Jessica was able to save her child. And fortunately for all of us, she has written this book to help others to do the same for their loved ones. Not only will people receive a better understanding of anorexia and eating disorders in these pages, but they will find hope and compassion for a disorder we must all fight together.