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Study Up For 'Think': How Kids Illuminate Expectation And Identity


Why do parents react the way they do when their children don’t turn out like they expect? Andrew Solomon spent ten years interviewing 300 families with what he deems “exceptional children” – special-needs kids, prodigies, transgendered children, and others with outlying characteristics. He talks to Think host Krys Boyd today at noon about his book Far From The Tree.

Perspectives on Solomon’s book are emotionally charged, as you’d expect from its subject – not necessarily parenting, even, but the undercurrent of self-acceptance called up here. The New York Times’ Julie Myerson finds the book a compassionate inquiry into suffering, Solomon’s own and that of his subjects. Myerson points to a mom from Rwanda whose child was conceived in rape. The woman entreats Solomon:  “Can you tell me how to love my daughter more?”

Cristina Nehring took issue with Solomon’s characterization of parents with Down Syndrome children – parents like her. In “Loving A Child On The Fringe” for Slate, she calls out the misconception that “autism is mysterious, Down syndrome is not.” Nehring agrees her daughter Eurydice’s accomplishments are sweet and few like the Down Syndrome kids Solomon writes about.  But ultimately so are those of any sensitive intellectual, Nehring argues.  

Listen to Think from noon to 2 p.m., Monday through Thursday, on KERA 90.1 or stream at to our Twitter list of thinkers and changemakers who've appeared on the show.

Lyndsay Knecht is assistant producer for Think.