Mental Health Awareness with Sara Troy and her guest Brad Schaffer, on air from October 12th
Brad Schaeffer, author of The Extraordinary, which tackles two sensitive subject matters — Autism and PTSD. In an interview, Brad can talk about the impacts on not just those who have these conditions, but also the families who support them. In The Extraordinary, a teenage boy on the Autism spectrum narrates his struggles coping with a chaotic and scary world when his Marine Corp father returns from Iraq debilitated by injury and PTSD. In this interview, Brad talks about how the suicide of his father, who suffered from PTSD after returning from war has influenced his writing and this story.
Brad Schaeffer’s The Extraordinaryaddresses Autism and PTSD
The impacts on those who have these conditions, as well as the families that support them
In this interview, Brad will talk about:
- How the suicide of his father, who suffered from PTSD after returning from war has influenced his writing and this story.
- Why he chose to write the story through the eyes of an autistic child.
- Glenn Frankel, a Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist for The Washington Postcalls the book “a compelling tale of vulnerability, endurance, and forgiveness.” How are these themes conveyed in the story?
A family already living on the edge of disaster plunges into despair when the father, a Marine Corps Captain, returns home from Iraq debilitated by wounds. More devastating damage follows, much of it self-inflicted. Brad Schaeffer’s novel recounts the sense of loss, terror and pain through the eyes of fourteen-year-old Wesley, the family’s youngest member, who suffers from Autism. Schaeffer doesn’t avert his gaze from the hurt that members of this wounded family cause each other, yet never loses his compassion for his characters. The result is an intimate and compelling tale of vulnerability, endurance, and forgiveness. – Glenn Frankel, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist for the Washington Post, Washington Post Magazine, Editor, Journalism Professor, and author of four books
Wesley Scott is a teenage boy with autism. He lives within his own intimate realm of sensory overload, dysfunction, sometimes violence, and fear of the outside world. He describes himself as the only actor on a stage without a script. We learn through Wes’ own words that he is a deep, thoughtful young man…but no one knows it.
Wes is unable to connect with anyone other than his father, a captain in the Marine Corps. He in turn adores his extraordinary son, his “Ex-man,” as he fondly calls him. When Captain Scott ships off to fight in the Middle East, Wes is confused and senses foreboding in what it all means, although he cannot express it to his family, friends, or teachers.
With his father overseas, Wes finds himself further isolated in a world of “Ords” (his dad’s term for the ordinaries, unlike his “Ex” son) and a stranger in his own family. His mother is distant and cold, his high school brother resents the inordinate attention his autistic brother constantly steals from him, and his twenty-something sister has chosen to move away from it all to Manhattan. The burden on the family gets exponentially worse when Captain Scott returns home wounded. The family tries to cope as best they can, but when his father succumbs to PTSD, Wes must somehow make sense of all that has happened—which is difficult for a teenager under normal conditions, let alone one on the autism spectrum who’s suddenly lost the only family member who ever really bothered to know him.
The Scotts seem on the verge of unraveling and Wes finds himself in a bewildering land of family turmoil. How will Wes come to understand this tragedy? And how will the family ever come to fill the void left by a father who understood what the rest have yet to discover…that Wes is an extraordinary young man indeed. And that all of us, no matter how much the world seems to scorn our existence—or has simply forgotten our pain—have something extraordinary to offer and make that world a better place.
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Brad Schaffer was born in Baltimore, MD but grew up in a suburb of Chicago. After attending the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, he lived in Chicago where he embarked on his dual career as both a commodities trader and author/novelist. He currently resides in New Jersey. His prolific and eclectic writing can be found in the pages of the Wall Street Journal, New York Daily News, National Review, Daily Wire, and other well-read publications. His interests, as reflected in his articles, encompass a wide swath from business, to science, education, the arts, history, politics, social issues, and general day-to-day living. He is also an accomplished guitarist and pianist and can be found playing in local New Jersey clubs with one of several rock bands in which he has played over the years. He is the author of Of Another Time And Place (2018), which takes place in World War II Europe. It is a study of the conflicts that good men confront when compelled by national loyalty and indoctrination to fight for morally reprehensible causes. His latest novel, The Extraordinary (2021), deftly tackles two sensitive subject matters — autism and PTSD — and the impacts they have on not just those who have these conditions, but also the families who support them.
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