A few weeks ago I stumbled upon this book - not even sure I recall how - but I quickly bought and read it. While the story isn't exactly like Charlie and Tim's, (the dog was not a North Star placement nor was it trained as a service animal) it did resonate with me. Much of the story reminded me of our early days with Tim before his diagnosis. Later in the book it becomes clear that Ms. Gardner's son shared the same response to his beloved Henry as Tim has with Charlie. Some of the similarities are uncanny - the most notable being that they both immediately began speaking to their dogs.
The Gardners seem to be very resourceful folks (like so many folks I've met in the A Club) and they used a number of unorthodox strategies to exploit the obvious bond between their son and his dog. One that struck me as simple and sweet was their use of the dog as a "voice box" to communicate to their son. It started with the father using a deep voice and stating to their son that he was Henry (their dog.) Their son immediately responded and thus a new gateway for communication emerged. The Gardners were suddenly able to easily get through to their son and used this method for several years.
I think the Gardner's story is a good one and the book is an emotional read. My favorite part of the book comes in the last chapter written by their son, who was 18 at the time he wrote it. It's a very insightful examination of the story written by his mother and includes his own explanations for some of his childhood "autistic behaviors" described by his mother. All in all it was a worthy read, full of hope, for anyone in the A Club.