Allen Shawn, pianist and composer, discusses his memoir, emTwinem, about growing up as the twin brother of a sister with autism. When Allen Shawn and his sister, Mary, were two, Mary began exhibiting signs of what would be diagnosed many years later as autism. Understanding Mary and making her life a happy one appeared to be impossible for the Shawns. At the age of eight, with almost no warning, her parents sent Mary to a residential treatment center. She never lived at home again. Fifty years later, as he probed the sources of his anxieties in his previous memoir, emWish I Could Be Thereem, Shawn realized that his fate was inextricably linked to his sister's, and that their natures were far from being different. emTwinem highlights the difficulties American families coping with autism faced in the 1950s. Shawn also examines the secrets and family dramas as his father, William, became editor of emThe New Yorkerem. emTwinem reconstructs a parallel narrative for the two siblings, who experienced such divergent fates yet shared talents and proclivities.moreless
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