A Friend Like Henry
This is the inspiring account of a family’s struggle to break into their son’s autistic world – and how a beautiful retriever dog made the real difference.
Dale was still a baby when his parents realised that something wasn’t right. Worried, his mother Nuala took him to see several doctors, before finally hearing the word ‘autism’ for the first time. Scared but determined that Dale should live a fulfilling life, Nuala describes her despair at her son’s condition, her struggle to prevent Dale being excluded from a ‘normal’ education and her sense of hopeless isolation. Dale’s autism was severe and violent and family life was a daily battleground.
But the Gardner’s lives were transformed when they welcomed a gorgeous Golden Retriever into the family. The special bond between Dale and his dog Henry helped them to produce the breakthrough in Dale they had long sought. From taking a bath to saying ‘I love you’, Henry helped introduce Dale to all the normal activities most parents take for granted, and set him on the road to being the charming and well-adjusted young man he is today.
This is a heartrending and fascinating account of how one devoted and talented dog helped a little boy conquer his autism.
All Because of Henry
All Because of Henry picks up the lead from the international bestseller, A Friend Like Henry, which traced the childhood journey of Dale, the Gardner family and, of course, their amazing golden retriever Henry, who has finally helped Dale to communicate with the world. Now, we meet Dale again, aged seventeen, to find out where his story goes next. He is no longer the victim of severe classical autism, but a young man facing a challenging and uncertain future. Autism changes, but it never goes away. Dale is ready for the world, but is the world ready for him and for his peers? We also catch up with the rest of the family and find out how the challenges that they’ve faced have affected their lives. His sister, Amy, has a quite different diagnosis of high-functioning autism and has brought different problems. And against the backdrop of the adversity and prejudice they’ve suffered, Nuala’s marriage is crumbling. But there’s now a new four-legged friend in the family to help them through it all. Henry’s legacy is a continuing and generous one. In the steps of that wonderful dog, their tale takes unexpected twists. Nuala finds a new life and career, which, to her surprise, is often beyond these shores. Their story did not end with Henry; it began, and it continues, in wit, warmth, heartbreak, and ultimately, in triumph.
Beth McDonough first trained in Silversmithing at Glasgow School of Art, spending many happy years teaching Art in various sectors including Special and F.E. She contributed writing and experiences to Nuala Gardner’s second book All because of Henry. Having recently completed an M.Litt in Writing Study and Practice at Dundee University, specialising in poetry, she continues to work in mixed media, and much of her poetry centres around the themes of maternity and disability. She lives in Dundee, with her husband, son and Ellie the Golden Labrador. Her work can be read in Northwords Now, Dundee Writes, Antiphon, Cake, Obsessed with Pipework, Seventh Quarry and Poetry Bus, and has been anthologised. She was runner up in the John Clare Poetry Competition 2013. She has run creative workshops in both word and visual/tactile media for a wide variety of people including those with autism and learning difficulties. Beth may be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org