The New York Times references Elaine Hall as The Child Whisperer." Her profound bond with children has been the defining force of her life and has led her to the successive miracles she documents with grace, humor and heart in her memoir: Now I See the Moon: A Mother, a Son, a Miracle.
Elaine was an A-list Hollywood acting coach for children when she learned that she could not have biological children. She adopted a beautiful two year old boy from Russia, who was subsequently diagnosed with severe autism. Refusing to heed the admonitions to send him back she used her professional knowledge and wisdom garnered from leading, humanistic authorities on autism to guide him through the inspiring, miraculous journey that has made him the happy, increasingly independent teenager that he is now.
Drawing on that experience, she went on to create The Miracle Project, through which she took on the seemingly impossible task of engaging children on the autistic spectrum to create and perform an original musical. Sparked by her conviction that involvement in the performing arts has the power to transform, her program has been a triumph, the subject of the award winning HBO documentary, and a miracle shared by all who witness it or participate in it. Elaine Hall believes in miracles, and so will anyone who reads her personal account of how faith, persistence and love can bring them into being. The title of the book comes from an ancient Chinese Proverb: My barn burned down, but now I can see the moon.
In this especially timely, painstakingly positive work, a children's film coach recounts her adoption of a troubled Russian toddler and her long, tortuous, ultimately enlightening journey to treat his nonverbal autism. A former actress, Hall worked as a successful "baby wrangler" for Hollywood feature films; 40-something, married nine years, active in her Jewish faith, and devastated by successive miscarriages, she along with her then husband traveled to an orphanage in Yekaterinburg, Russia, to adopt a quiet two-year-old. Neal, as she named him, couldn't speak or make eye contact, and despite Hall's belief in his innate intelligence, the boy was eventually diagnosed with "severe sensory dysfunction." She beautifully chronicles Neal's development to the age of his bar mitzvah vis-a`-vis his responses--positive and negative--to the slew of experts and coaches Hall found to create therapies tailored to his very individual needs. Though Hall's marriage dissolved under the pressure of Neal's care, and there were moments Hall truly believed she and her son were "slouching toward normal," she had to accept that Neal would never be "cured" of autism. She created her life's work in the Miracle Project, a theater arts program for autistic kids (eventually made into the Emmy Award-winning documentary Autism: The Musical). (July)