Far From The Tree
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1. In Far from the Tree, Andrew Solomon tells the stories of dozens of parents raising children from across the spectrum of horizontal identities. Did any particular family remain etched in your memory? 
2. Solomon describes how his reporting on deaf culture quickly challenged his assumption that deafness "was a deficit and nothing more". What did he discover? Were any of your own assumptions challenged by Far from the Tree? 
3. Solomon writes about visiting the village of Bengkala, Bali, where a congenital form of deafness has affected generations of residents. What struck Solomon about the way this community treated its deaf residents? Can we draw any lessons from Bengkala about the way we treat deaf people or those with other kinds of illnesses/identities? 
4. One of the book’s recurring themes is the difficult decision parents face when a child could benefit from "corrective procedures" such as cochlear implants and limb-lengthening. At what stage in a person’s life do you think such interventions are appropriate? Should parents of young children be allowed to authorize such surgeries? 
5. Solomon notes that some dwarf couples use pre-natal testing to "screen out average size fetuses and ensure a dwarf child", and that some deaf people prefer to have deaf children. In contrast, Solomon describes "ever-increasing options to choose against having children with horizontal identities" for society at large. He notes that most people who receive a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome choose to abort. What moral burdens come with the existence of these tests? What does it mean for any individual to seek out or to avoid prenatal testing? 
6. Emily Perl Kingsley’s son Jason became a public face for Down syndrome but went on to struggle with depression. "I’ll admit that lower-functioning Down’s kids are happier, less obsessed with how unfair it is," she tells Solomon. What do you think of Emily’s quest to make Jason "the highest-functioning DS kid in history?". How would you approach parenting a Down syndrome child? 
7. Imagine that you are the parent of a severely autistic child or a child with multiple disabilities. What strategies would you adopt from the parents profiled here? Any you would avoid? Is there a formula for maintaining mental, emotional, and financial health when one must be a constant caregiver? 
8. What do you think of Andrew Solomon’s decision to include chapters on the families of children conceived in rape, prodigies, and criminals alongside those chronicling people with disabilities? 
9. What do you think is the proper role for government in the realm of research and treatment for people struggling with horizontal illnesses or identities? Are some identities more deserving of public funds than others? Why or why not?
10. In his conclusion, Solomon writes that he used to see himself "as a historian of sadness," but he ends Far from the Tree on a decidedly hopeful note, writing about his newfound joy in parenthood. What was your state of mind as you finished the book? How do you ultimately view the parents in these pages, as "heroic" or "fools?".