Sixtus Z. Atabong’s My Father’s Gift: How One Man’s Purpose Became a Journey of Hope and Healing won a gold Nautilus Award in the category of Heroic Journeys, and Whitney Ellenby’s Autism Uncensored: Pulling Back the Curtain won a silver Nautilus Award in the category of Parenting & Family. Congratulations Sixtus and Whitney!
Born into a poor West African family in the disease-stricken town of Fontem, John N. Atabong embarked into the unknown in search of hope. He was eleven, but he triumphed against all odds to give his children the best care and education available. Eventually, he sacrificed his most valuable possession, his son Sixtus, sending him to study in the United States with nothing more than lessons learned from his days working the farms and his father’s basic biblical teachings. Sixtus Atabong’s journey of temptations and challenges in the US gives rise to a mission: to give back. He uses his gift to extend God’s healing hands and unfailing love to the far corners of the earth through sustainable health care infrastructures. Fulfilling his father’s dream, Sixtus hopes that he too can leave the world a better place than he found it.
“And when in the grips of a public tantrum, amidst the horror and humiliation of him shrieking and splayed out on the floor while strangers recoiled in shock, my mind lurched towards an inescapable truth—that I want out from this nightmare. I want out from this child.”
So begins the turbulent ride of one parent’s decision, crafted in despair and desperation, to abandon traditional interventions for her autistic son in favor of a “hands on” approach of repeatedly exposing her son to real-world settings. Autism Uncensored is an unrestricted portal into the mind of someone who had no intention of sacrificing her career or life for Autism, unaware of the many ways it would irreversibly redefine both. As she clarifies at the outset, “this is not the story of a miraculous breakthrough or recovery.” Zack is still very much autistic and always will be. It is instead the true, real-time account of her decision to allow Zack to indulge in the very behaviors that formal therapies sought to extinguish, to disclose Zack’s diagnosis in public settings, and to repeatedly expose him to real-world situations and override his tantrums regardless of public ridicule or scorn.
Autism Uncensored goes where no other book dares—revealing the private disgrace and self-blame about having a “defective” child; the near disintegration of marriage; the failure of the traditional behavioral interventions; and the mercenary way in which service providers prey on parents’ desperation for a cure. It is a personal manifesto about how a socially integrated life is attainable regardless of whether a child overcomes the major limitations of Autism, sparking a new conversation which goes beyond simply accepting persons with Autism for who they are, but considers pushing them beyond their comfort zones to learn who they are capable of becoming. An unstoppable ride with jolting twists and turns, Autism Uncensored will leave you exhilarated, informed and still gasping for air.
To see the other winners, follow the link below.