Peete, Rodney and Morton, Danielle. (2010). Not My Boy! New York: Hyperion.
Meet Rodney Peete, the NFL quarterback. Peete is a born fighter, both in sports and in real life. According to Peete, he was coached during his early years in the NFL to trust his own instincts and to learn to play outside his comfort zone.
Playing ouside his comfort zone took on a new meaning in his personal life after his son was born. Peete and his wife, actress Holly Robinson Peete, started on a quest to support their son R.J. in his personal growth with autism.
In his memoir, Peete speaks directly to readers through his experiences and challenges as a father raising a child with autism. He describes his hopes for his children, and how he had to dramatically readjust his expectations of fatherhood when his son R. J. was small. The strength of his marriage was quickly put to the test as Peete denied his son’s issues and did not support his son’s therapies. In this memoir, Peete transforms from “hesitant father” to “active supporter”, and the successes that R. J. experiences are amazing.
At the end of the book, Peete offers several tips on parenting a child with autism, including suggestions on maintaining a strong marriage, and for including the siblings of the child who has autism. There are some controversial issues that are addressed throughout this book, including the belief that vaccines can cause autism, and the use of chelation (thought to remove toxins, including mercury, from the body). Parents should address any questions in these areas to medical professionals, including doctors and therapists: chelation and vaccines are serious issues that have significant impacts on everyone’s health, and can have other outcomes than the ones that R. J. experienced.
This book is a gripping read for anyone interested in learning about the challenges of raising a child with special needs.
After reading this book, I felt like I had climbed an emotional mountain. I decided to read this book for two reasons: I enjoy reading about people who succeed despite obstacles. I also know a family whose son has autism. While I know already that many children present different aspects of autism, I really wanted to know more, so that I can be more understanding during their visits. Reading this book, I felt I had a private window on Rodney Peete’s family life that gave me a different perspective on children growing up with autism.
I also note that there are two different subtitles for this book. On my copy, the subtitle is: A Father, a Son and One Family's Journey with Autism. On other copies, I notice that the subtitle is A Dad's Journey with Autism, which is not quite as accurate, since it is clear that the entire family is working together to help R. J.