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I'm a writer and library worker who wears many hats. I believe a good book and a good piece of chocolate are the keys to a happy life.

Friday, September 26, 2008

LDS Books for Those with Special Needs Children

Maybe having information on these precious children constantly on my radar seems a little strange to some. For the most part this occurs because I have a special needs child and because of my background as a nurse. So, strange or not, here we go again. Indulge me while I explore a set of fiction titles by LDS authors, based on the trials and joys involved with those whom Heavenly Father gives special gifts and special needs all in one innocent little bundle.

Faraway Child by Amy Maida Wadsworth- This was the first LDS book I ever read that addressed autism. I liked it. I really liked it. Yes, the mother was a little whinny to me, but during the time Faraway Child was written, there was very little understanding in the general public about what this experience was like for the parents. Aside from adoring the child, for the sheer sake that I see my own child in her, my favorite character has to be the crusty old Primary teacher they call to work one-on-one with the child. She is a woman after my own heart. Yes, I too have responded to a bishop with, “Haven’t I ever told you I really don’t like kids?” (That’s and entirely different story.)

Keeping Keller by Tracy Winegar- I loved this story about a little autistic boy in an age when autism was simply seen as mental retardation and “imperfect” children were most often removed from public view. I really related to this powerful story. As the back of the book implies: “Keller is a force to be reckoned with” in more ways than one. Keeping Keller is also not specific to the LDS culture, it is a powerful tale for anyone who faces these challenges or needs to understand them better. Kudos to the author, who has two ASD children herself.

Accepting Joy by Todd F. Cope- Eh, it was okay. This is a short book about learning to accept a down syndrome diagnosis. Perhaps because it was written by a man, the husband seems to be the main focus. I never felt like I got to know the mother beyond her fears about her baby (which instantly seemed to resolve themselves), there seemed to be very little else to her personality. While I know that these types of worries are all consuming, I would have connected better with her if I’d found other things to relate to before the stress began. The financial back story also bothered me. I could get little hints on what this was about and how the author tried to use it as an example of ways to cope with horrid amounts of stress and trial; but, it was actually distracting to know there was some sort of story I was coming in on after the fact. There might have been better ways to accomplish having experiences from others to draw on than this. Accepting Joy’s over-riding message: life’s all about choices— what we choose to accept and find joy in and what we do not. The story is also appropriate for both members of the LDS church and the general population.

Sammy’s Song by Alma J. Yates- I have to put this title at the bottom of my list, but it is purely because of opinion. The writing and story line in this book about a young girl learning to accept her mentally handicapped cousin, is pretty good. But for whatever reason I found the main character and the plot development abrasive to me personally. Maybe I was just having an “off” day when I read it, but it just didn’t speak to me the way some of the other titles have.

You Always Call Me Princess by David Ted Eyre- This is a story that explores down syndrome from a broader perspective than the initial diagnosis. You get to see what kind of person that tiny child can become and it’s a beautiful thing. I haven’t personally been able to read this title. I found out about it when a friend of mine, Shirley Bahlmann reviewed it on her blog. You can read her thoughts on You Always Call Me Princess, here.

Of course, as always, I’m just one reader sharing her opinions. I’d love to hear how any one else felt about these titles, or about any LDS books on the subject that I’ve overlooked. Let me know what you think.

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1 comment:

Tristi Pinkston said...

I enjoyed "Faraway Child" and "Keeping Keller" as well, and agree with your assessment of "Accepting Joy." The others I haven't read. Thanks for this review!