The Children of Raquette Lake: One Summer That Helped Change the Course of Treatment for Autism is an inspiring account of author Mira Rothenberg's experience with eleven autistic and schizophrenic children during the summer of 1958. In order to avoid the regression that often occurred during the summer months, Rothenberg, a trained psychologist, and her colleagues Zev Spanier and Tev Goldsman, decided to bring their young patients to a camp in Raquette Lake, located in the Adirondack region of Northern New York.
As Rothenberg explains, this was a time when severely disturbed children were considered untreatable and often sent to live out their lives in institutions where their needs were neglected and ignored. Many of Rothenberg's patients exhibited signs of abuse and emotional trauma. On the island, Rothenberg, Spanier, and Goldsman discovered that by applying what was then an unconventional treatment of loving care and tolerance, their young patients improved and were able to heal many of the emotional and physical issues associated with their conditions. Written like a narrative journal that follows the children's progress from week to week, The Children of Raquette Lake is interwoven with personal histories and fascinating case stories that demonstrate the healing power of the human heart. The book also provides a valuable list of resources for therapists and parents of autistic children.
About Mira Rothenberg
Mira Rothenberg has been instrumental in developing treatments and clinical distinctions for autistic and severely disturbed children that are separate from those who are mentally disabled. A licensed psychologist with over forty years of experience, Rothenberg was the cofounder and clinical director of Blueberry Treatment Centers, Inc., the first internationally recognized therapeutic agency for treatment of autistic and schizophrenic children. Named Woman of the Year by the New York City Chamber of Commerce and National Organization for Mentally Ill Children, she lives in Brooklyn where she sees patients in her private practice.
"I was deeply moved by this book. The sort of vivid, 'novelistic' but meticulously accurate depiction that comes equally from the heart and the mind, seems to me indispensable and perhaps the only way of entering the world of these children. Rothenberg's experience and her empathy here are both very great. Thank you, Mira, for a beautiful book."
—Oliver Sacks, MD, best-selling author of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Musicophilia, and The Mind's Eye
“Mira Rothenberg has worked with emotionally disturbed children for over sixty years. With her warm and steady hand, gentle open heart, gut instinct, and keen intellect, she finds where these kids have retreated and offers them a way to come back from insanity while helping to instill in them the courage to return.”
—Peter A. Levine, PhD, best-selling author of Trauma Proofing Your Kids: A Parent’s Guide to Instilling Confidence, Joy and Resilience and In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness
“An extraordinary recollection by an extraordinary woman. My mother's memoir is insightful and deeply moving. She transports the reader to a rich world of emotion, wonder, and triumph.”
—Akiva Goldsman, Rothenberg’s son and Academy Award winner, Best Adapted Screenplay for A Beautiful Mind
“No one knows the hearts, minds, and souls of autistic children better than Mira Rothenberg, and no one has described them with more poetry and compassion. The Children of Raquette Lake is both a true life adventure story and a profoundly moving treatise on wounded children whose lives can be made better through knowledge, empathy, and love.”
—Richard Marek, former publisher of E.P. Dutton and author of Works of Genius
“Mira Rothenberg’s case histories poignantly illustrate how frightened children cling to maladaptive behavioral strategies to protect themselves. Through this chaos, Rothenberg provides an integrative theme emphasizing that successfully engaging vulnerable children with loving care within a context of safety is a powerful intervention that reduces fear and, at times, is effective in enhancing appropriate social behavior and emotional resilience. She has captured the frustration and pain that many clinicians experience while working with these troubled children. Rothenberg’s insightful model of rehabilitation is captured in her understanding that the behavioral features of these terrified children previously may have been adaptive in dangerous and life-threatening environments. Be prepared to fight back the tears as you share the experience of Mira Rothenberg, a gifted therapist and writer, as she tries to reach the sacred emotional territory of schizophrenic and autistic children.”
—Stephen W. Porges, PhD, professor of psychiatry, director of the Brain-Body Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and author of The Polyvagal Theory: Neurophysiological Foundations of Emotions, Attachment, Communication, and Self-Regulation
“A tour de force of remarkable intuition, intelligence, and daring.”
—Carol B. Hillman, author of Teaching Four-Year-Olds: A Personal Journey, Before the School Bell Rings, and Mentoring Early Childhood Educators
“Mira Rothenberg’s legacy is the transformation of attitudes toward children who suffer. This book offers both a personal memoir and a professional insight into an incredibly creative and powerful mind. I could not put it down.”
—Mira Hamermesh, award winning filmmaker and author of The River of Angry Dogs: A Memoir
“Mira Rothenberg has made great contributions and changed the attitude toward autistic children in Lithuania. She has helped us to find the right direction in our work with them.”
—Irena Veisaite, PhD, professor of philology and European theater history, active contributor to Lithuanian culture and education, and chair of the Open Society Fund—Lithuania Board, founded by George Soros