Tuesday, 12 June 2012
Shhh! I'm still officially on Spring Break. But before I left, I agreed to review a book written by a mother of a son with autism as part of a Blog Tour from April 1 to 7. Since I never have a chance to read anymore, my break was a perfect time to settle down with this book. I'll be back Monday. In the meantime, I want to kick off this week with a book review.* * * * * * * * *
I was surprised to discover that Autism Awareness Month has been celebrated since the 1970s especially since the growing numbers of those diagnosed with autism have only been in the news about the last decade. I choose to start the month by reviewing a book I received in the mail from Judson Press. The release of the book coincides with a week-long blog tour of 30 other blogs receiving the book. All the blogs were given different options for posting during the week. I chose to review the book Autism & Alleluias by Kathleen Deyer Bolduc. I received a free copy of this book for my review, which is my honest assessment of the book.
As many of my long time readers know, I started this blog because I didn't have enough courage to write a book about life with Jonathan. Kathleen did what I've always dreamed about doing, writing an honest account of raising a child with autism along relating my faith among the stories.
Autism & Alleluias is a mixture of short stories about various events involving Joel or poems. Each chapter starts with a bible verse, then the main content and concludes with a prayer. I know many of my friends don't share the same faith as I do, so I read many of the chapters without reading the scripture or prayers. I believe the book is inspirational just reading the main contents of each chapter.
Kathleen doesn't hold back the pain, frustration and weariness of raising a middle school child through young adult - one with mental efficiencies, autism and anxiety disorders. I find her selection of this period of her son's life enlightening. Jonathan's 10th birthday is Monday. His counselor is suggesting some of Jonathan's new issues may be related to hormones. Ugh! Kathleen writes about how Joel getting bigger than her becomes difficult as she must rely on his listening to her. Now she depends upon being able to talk him back into the house from the snow instead of physically leading him back. She writes about how even though he has the intellect of a four year old, he's got the body of a 17 year old, which is developmentally on time for noticing girls.
I didn't have a chance to read the book before my Spring Break when I consciously decided to take a real break, not checking emails, blogs or working on my new business. The book seemed timely as our family prepared for Easter services because Kathleen writes about Joel in worship services, Easter and Christmas in particular.
I found myself laughing as Kathleen wrote Joel's typical response to church service, she likened him to being a square peg being jammed into circular holes. Joel needs to move constantly and loves only the singing part of worship services. She and her husband attended Presbyterian services (the "frozen chosen" is a phrase I often hear because we are also Presbyterian) which are quiet and routine. During the prayers Joel knocks on the wooden pews and tells knock knock jokes. When he can stand the service no longer he loudly announces, "Church is over. I'm starving. Time for lunch. Amen!" Just like a toddler thinks their pronouncement of something makes it so, a teenager is doing the same. I feel for all those involved. I feel the embarrassment of Kathleen. I feel the innocence of Joel. I wonder if I'd be irritated or smile knowingly as a member of the congregation?
Autism & Alleluias is an easy read, as far as the chapters are short. As a person of faith, I can see reading a chapter a day as a devotional especially since each chapter has a scripture and ends with prayer. Those who don't share the author's faith can easily read the book without missing anything by skipping these additions. One or two chapters discuss her belief in healing prayers. Likewise she also includes a chapter about her belief in how DAN (Defeat Autism Now) aided Joel's improvements. For the most part, she writes about her own feelings, thoughts, observations, and responses to life with Joel's autism. I love her chapters about the other service providers in Joel's life and how they became family.
If you would like to buy a copy of the book, it appears to be sold at a discount at this website Autism & Alleluias. If you would like to participate in a Webnair on autism and disabilities ministries on April 8th at 2:00 p.m., Kathleen Deyer Bolduc will be part of the free seminar. You can go here. It appears most of the blogs have reviews of the book; however, some have guest posts by Kathleen or Q&As. Finally, you can find out more about Kathleen and her other books at her website.