Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Book Review: The Anti-Romantic Child by Priscilla Gilman

Parenting is hard and wonderful.

Parenting a special needs child is undoubtably harder, but in some ways more wonderful, more poignant, once we get past our own expectations.

 We all basically start out in the same place. We expect to have a healthy, "normal" baby. We expect they'll hit all the milestones at the right times, (if not a little early,) that they'll run, and play, and make friends, and have basically the childhood we had, (except a little better.)

What happens when things don't go according to plan?

The Anti-Romantic Child chronicles one mom's journey down the bumpy road of special needs parenthood.

Priscilla Gilman was a new mom with a lot of lofty ideals about what children and childhood should be like. An English professor with a love of romantic poetry, she'd always imagined her child would would be a dreamer, a lover of nature, an explorer.

The child she had was different. Different than she'd planned for, different from herself, certainly different from the children in the poems. As he grows, she has to face and contend with her own expectations again and again.

As months and years go by, the family's life revolves around what to do for "Benj." He needs therapy, and a suitable preschool, and constant advocacy. As is often the case, the all encompassing task of trying to get everything just right for the special needs child leaves mom and dad sort of out in the rain. They have to make complicated decisions about their careers, their marriage, even where to live, in light of how Benj will be affected.

Priscilla's love of literature provides her with comfort and context during the ups and the downs. As many of us do with a favorite quote, or Bible verse, Priscilla finds herself returning to certain verses of poetry throughout her life, examining them from different angles, depending on where she's at.

It's a familiar story to those of us with special needs children, and it resonated deeply with me. When I read the part where she began her frantic online search to explain his odd behaviors, I could have been reading my own story. First you search the symptoms, then you get sucked into the forums, then you print out the check lists, and on and on.

I thought the story was a rare, balanced commentary on special needs parenting. It includes both the hard, terrifying parts, and the awesome, hard won victories.

I'd recommend this book to anyone, but if you have a child with special needs, particularly on the autistic spectrum, I think it will really speak to you.

Author, Priscilla Gilman.

If you'd like to find out more about Priscilla Gilman, you can visit her website, follow her on Twitter, or check out her Facebook page.

Disclosure: I was provided with a free copy of this book in order to participate in this book tour. No other compensation was provided, and all opinions are my own.

1 comment:

  1. I love it when I find a memoir that I can really identify with, and it sounds like that was the case for you here. Thanks for being a part of this book tour! I'm featuring your review on TLC's Facebook page today.