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Autism & Alleluias Review by Donna CamposKathleen Deyer Bolduc
PO Box 851
Valley Forge, PA 19482
Autism & Alleluias is a glossy soft-cover book of 140 pages, containing 39 chapters, a foreword, acknowledgements, and an introduction. The chapters are brief, usually only three or four pages. Humor is sprinkled throughout, and it is particularly amusing for those of us blessed with children with special needs. Written as a collection of brief vignettes to provide a glimpse into the life of a family living with a child with autism, the book should encourage those on the journey as well as share with others a bit of what it is like to actually take the journey.
The book is obviously written from the heart, and it tells of a family with one autistic son and two others who are typically developing. The stories reveal the grace of God and a family relying on Him assurance. The author's son, Joel, is at the center of the story, and the author skillfully leads the reader through the stories that make up the family's life together. The family does not homeschool, but the book reveals some of the regular dealings of the IEP (Individual Education Plan) and public school policy for special needs students. As a mother, Kathy is honest about her frustrations, her hurt, and even her failures as she shares her life. Near the middle of the book, she discusses trying to get square pegs to fit into round holes and how sometimes we break the peg in the process--very thought provoking. That discussion alone was very eye opening with regard to the things we do in order to have our children fit in. Another chapter shared about Joel's acting part as a shepherd for their church's portrayal of Bethlehem one Christmas. This was so reminiscent of when our son played a similar role. Reading the account brought me to tears as I recalled similar behavior and a beautiful moment in my son's life. The book might even spark an idea for a sewing group or an individual project as a ministry opportunity, as the author shares some ways they have been encouraged over the years. Many chapters include a poem at the end, but they always start with Scripture and close with a prayer. We found the s criptures to be a blessing and were particularly encouraged with Psalm 16:11, "Thou dost show me the path of life; in thy presence there is fullness of joy, in thy right hand are pleasures for evermore."
Autism & Alleluias is a tremendous book. The author shared how help can often come from where you least expect it, as was the case when a Muslim surprised the family by serving as an ideal support person for Joel. He even attended church with the family, stating, "We both worship the God of Abraham." Faith differences did not stop those supporting the day-to-day development of Joel and providing services to meet his needs. Families with typically developing children will find this book to be eye opening as they see the difficulties autism can entail. Kathy brings up Joel's intolerance for Band-Aids, his self-injury, and other unique behaviors. She provides quite a glimpse of their family life and God's amazing intervening hand. She also shares their success with the DAN protocol (Defeat Autism Now). Chapters on graduation and church ceremonies for graduates are particularly touching. The book ends with great insight regarding letting go. The reality that God loves our children even more than we do is reassuring.
As a mother, the downside for me was that the vignettes were scattered around in regard to age group. The book does not read from Joel's preschool days to high school graduation and young adulthood. Rather, the author touches on different age groups as she shares their story. I would have loved to read from the story of his growing up, the pitfalls, and the glorious climbs to improvement all in order.
For those desiring to better understand the family life of those with autism, Autism & Alleluias is an excellent book. Those with a new diagnosis will be encouraged as they consider that God has His hand on their child. As you read these pages, you will be refreshed and renewed. This is a journey that includes beautiful blessings, with mountains and molehills along the way.