Cover image for The sound of a miracle : a child's triumph over autism
The sound of a miracle : a child's triumph over autism
Stehli, Annabel.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Doubleday, 1991.
Physical Description:
xii, 226 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
RJ506.A9 S758 1991 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
RJ506.A9 S758 1991 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Details a child's journey from autistic and functionally retarded to gifted, resulting in validation of auditory training.

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Stehli's anguish over the death of her oldest daughter, Dotsie, from leukemia and the autism of her youngest, Georgie, is directly, heartbreakingly conveyed in this autobiography. However, it isn't only anguish that is presented; the ultimate emotion here is hope. Stehli remained optimistic that Georgie could develop into a normal child despite hearing numerous doctors and medical professionals tell her that her daughter was hopelessly retarded, that the girl's emotional void was caused by a lack of maternal affection, that Stehli should, in her ex-husband's words, "let Dotsie die and institutionalize Georgie and get on with her life." Dotsie did die, but not before she lived three years longer than anyone predicted. Georgie was not institutionalized. As a teen, she was treated by a European audiologist who discovered that the acute sensitivity of autistic children causes them to turn away from sound (the human voice, even the sound of breathing) because it is so painful. Finally being accepted in the U.S., this realization that autism can have physical causes would certainly have spared the "mom-bashing" promoted by followers of Bruno Bettelheim, once considered the authority on dealing with autistic children. Stehli's revelations, especially her insights into battling the medical community, are invaluable for any parent of a child with a physical or psychological disorder. Due to her tenacity, her daughter was cured and is, as the story closes, in graduate school. First serial rights of this Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club alternate selection were sold to Reader's Digest. ~--Denise Perry Donavin

Publisher's Weekly Review

Movingly but without self-pity, Stehli here recounts how, after years of ineffectual medical treatment, she turned to Swiss autistic children's specialist Guy Berard for counsel on her troubled young daughter Georgie; he attributes the unresponsive or violent behavior of the autistic to a painful, sometimes frightening oversensitivity to certain frequencies of sound--present even in a mother's voice. Berard's auditory therapy helps to adjust and correct distortion of the patient's hearing to acceptable levels. His program's success is vouched for in an afterword by California autism specialist Bernard Rimland--and in the ``miracle'' case of Stehli's daughter--now a 25-year-old graduate student. The book will be enormously helpful to parents and care-givers of autistic children, although as Rimland cautions, ``There is no treatment that is uniformly or fully effective.'' First serial to Reader's Digest; Literary Guild and Dobuleday Book Club alternatives. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Stehli's daughter Georgiana, born in 1965, was attached to inanimate objects and completely indifferent to any human contact. She was diagnosed as autistic, and the effort to find a cure began. She met professionals who advised, ''Just love her!'' and others who, citing Bettelheim, blamed the mother for creating a hostile environment. The book takes readers through hospitalizations, school problems, divorce and remarriage, and death of Georgiana's sister from leukemia--a story of grief that is almost overwhelming until their trip to Europe for auditory training to cure Georgiana's sensitivity to noise. After ten days her symptoms went away, her senses reacted more normally, and her behavior improved so much that family and friends hardly recognized her. Stehli's is a powerful story of courage, hope, and determination. Highly recommended.-- Linda Beck, Indian Valley P.L., Telford, Pa. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

YA-- Stehli relates the details of living and coping with her unresponsive, autistic child. Doctors and psychiatrists led her to believe that she was an inadequate mother and wanted her to institutionalize her daughter, Georgie, but she insisted on keeping the child at home, sending her out only for schooling. When Georgie began auditory training in Switzerland, she became a different person as her hearing changed. High school students interested in working with exceptional children or planning medical careers would be most interested in this book. Written in a lively, readable style, with much emphasis on Stehli's conflicting emotions, it would also be good for those interested in psychology. --Dorothy Addison, Woodlawn School, Fairfax County, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.