Shtum by Jem Lester


Jem Lester

Jonah is ten and profoundly autistic, no speech & getting harder to manage. He needs full time care at a residential school but parents Ben & Emma must fight the council and an army of experts to get him into the school of their choice. Maybe if they pretended to split up they would have a better chance?
This book shows ordinary people trying to cope in extraordinary circumstances. Jonah cannot speak and all those around him keep "Shtum".


So the day unravels like any other: bath running, Jonah standing half-sodden while I open the windows, remove the bedsheets and spray the mattress cover with disinfectant. The sheets I ball together with his reeking pyjamas. The aromatic nappy and the soiled wipes get tied in a plastic bag, and in he hops-the bubble-covered water turning to consommé on contact. I clean him vigorously, showering off the stubborn bits, and dry him with his navy towel-any other provokes a tantrum. Dressed, I shoo him along the corridor for breakfast.

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