Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Anti-Romantic Child

Today, I'm going to do something a little different. I want to tell you about a great book I just read, called "The Anti-Romantic Child," by Priscilla Gilman.

"The Anti-Romantic Child," by Priscilla Gilman, is a joy to read. There are an awful lot of autism memoirs in the field these days, and I have read dozens of them. Gilman's book stands out in that her language and choice of words, as well as her choice of ancedotes to share with us, really bring her son Benj to life. When I read most autism memoirs, I can relate (despite not being a parent myself, but having heard the story many times) to the parent's struggle to understand what autism is and to cope with the autism diagnosis. I enjoy reading about each unique child, and their specific strengths and weaknesses, often comparing them to my own.

But very rarely does a child jump off the pages of a book and have me laughing and smiling and pulling for him as much as I did for Benj in Gilman's book. I was proud of him when he did something right, cheering for him when he was struggling, and awed by his disposition and personality. By the end of the book, I wanted to meet him and witness his joy, passion and exuberance for life personally.

Priscilla Gilman had always envisioned a perfect life with her husband and child, a romantic life of the sort she read about in her childhood fairy tales. And at first, it seemed as if she was going to get it. But when the traits that Gilman and her husband thought were so cute and charming turn out to actually be symptoms of a disorder, a lot of things have to change. Benj is diagnosed with hyperlexia, which carries many of the same symptoms and challenges as an autism spectrum diagnosis (hence the comparison in this review).

Gilman and her family jump into finding ways to help him, and ultimately succeed. But the book is not so much a how to book about "saving" a child from the pathos of a disorder as it is a love song to her child. And a beautiful one at that. Could it be that the story of the anti-romantic child is a romantic one after all?

I enjoyed reading about how the family came together to help Benj, and thought that Gilman did a great job focusing on the positive traits that made Benj unique, while still us giving us a good portrait of how challenging his difficulties are. "The Anti-Romantic Child" shows us how wonderful, quirky and delightful our special needs kids really can be, and shows to the non special needs acquainted world that different doesn't always mean bad. Well worth a read.

Get your copy today on Amazon

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful review. I will be downloading it to my Kindle. I am hoping for a romantic ending to my story...I can see a very positive future for Blue. I am still praying for one for Red.