Disclosure: D. S. Walker provided a pdf copy of her book for me to review it.
It's a day for reviews! Today, the kids and I are home together on this day before Thanksgiving, and it's warm outside, a balmy 80 degrees! It's really windy, though, so the walk I was hoping to take this morning with the kids is on the backburner. Instead, I decided to dig into the pdf file of a book a blogging buddy sent me. D.S. Walker, who writes the blog Delightfully Different Mia, had shared her book, Delightfully Different, with me last week, so I've been curled up in my recliner busily reading away while the kids play behind me.
It's an interesting short novel, told from both Mia and her mom's perspective and covers a span of more than two decades and ends on the happy note of Mia going to Julliard. It was an enjoyable way to spend the morning.
Many of us parents will be able to relate to the confusion in trying to understand things from our child's perspective and how they perceive the world differently compared to many. Some of us, I know, deal with the same kinds of sensory issues and will recognize ourselves in Mia! I know that I have the same sensitivity to sound and the same kinds of issues with clothing. All three of my kids have similar issues.
Perhaps the most important part of the book, though, deals with the confrontation of bullying when Mia is in fifth grade. All of us parents can relate to the fear we have for our children and the intense need to protect them from harm. Many of us, unfortunately, have had to deal with actual bullying, and I have no doubt that many of us personally experienced bullying as kids ourselves. This was an intense part of the book, but also a practical one as ways of handling the bullying and implementing programs to combat it are employed. We will all, if and when we face this with our children, make different decisions on how to handle it. Some of us will pull our children out of school and homeschool them. Some of us will keep our children in the school and work to stamp out the bullying. What's important is not* the personal decisions we make with our own children but that we support other families as they face and handle these kinds of situations. There is no one-size fits all solution for our children for any issue they face. *edit: Okay, the personal decisions are important, but I meant in the context of the group; the focus should not be on criticizing people for making the best decisions for their families--I hope that makes sense--as I know that many of us make different decisions for our children; I brought the bright boy home and homeschooled him, for example, in order to avoid bullying and an ineffective school system.
We can also all probably relate to the difficulties in communication that can occur between spouses as we try to get a handle on our children's issues and how best to address them. Walker writes openly about the difficulties that occur as one spouse doesn't understand the child and wants to be stricter, more forceful and one parent tries to understand and may inadvertently favor the child with issues over others in the family. Forgiveness plays a role in the novel, in that each family member must learn to let go and forgive. It's an important lesson.
Not every family will deal with autism in the same way; not every couple will be at odds with how to deal with it, and not every family will successfully resolve the conflicts. One family is just that, one family. But it's worth the glimpse in, it's worth the time to see how other families cope, so that we have the chance to contemplate how we might handle things differently.