2005-03-18 / Community

Wave Columnist Pens Book About Autistic Child

Inner Voice columnist, Marilyn Gelfand and co-author Sue Barron have written a moving book, “Miracle Milestones: One Autistic Child’s Journey,” a story that the authors describe as “a saga of life, with its ups and downs.”

Gelfand says that her book is a story of love, hope and acceptance of the unusual as “normal.”

The mother of the autistic child writes about the family’s own history, of how they survive and what they are living through in the unfoldment process of discovering one child has autism, another is born with cystic fibrosis and another son has asthma.

After ten years, they have adjusted to their “normal” daily lives now, having experienced so much pain and insecurity, yet they have found no cures. Despite all the anguish of a life filled with disappointments, life can have many rewards. This story is about decisions, toughness and support in the care of a child with autism. Unlike many books, this one is without an ending, as Taylor, an autistic boy, is still very young.

Taylor has made progress and is a special person, but the general population does not know how to relate and communicate with him. All people can better understand this illness where the child appears to be perfectly normal, but can’t understand what you are saying. This book can help those directly affected by autism. It will also enable the grandparent, the aunt, the close friend and the neighbor understand the complexity of this disorder and better comprehend what it is like for the family involved. In addition to seeing how daily life works and impacts the family, much more general information is given from other sources. The co-author, a writer who initially knew nothing about autism, provides the more general question that outsiders have and reacts. Amazingly, the number of children with autism has been on the increase, some say even as many as 1 in 500.

The authors hope is that others may benefit from this real family’s experiences of pushing through problems, despair and shattered dreams, gain strength from their humanness, and find inspiration, comfort and hope to get past fears of making it through the bleak circumstances of life filled with constant vulnerability and change. They believe it is possible to live one day at a time and find the joys in small miracles.

The following was written about the book by Dr. Elizabeth Seagull, pediatric psychologist and professor emeritus, Michigan State University:

“This book is written for the lay reader in a conversational style which makes it accessible to a general audience. It is unique in that it is written in the voice of a member of the extended family, while also presenting the point of view of the mother of a child with autism in a series email excerpts. In many ways, this is a typical story of a child with autism: the early moths when everything seemed fine, the delay in language development, parental denial that something was wrong, the search for a diagnosis, and the confusing ups and downs of development which so characterize autistic spectrum disorders. Especially useful is that the child’s progress is clearly presented as resulting from a lot of hard work on the part of parents, professionals and the child himself. This is not the story of a miracle – it is much truer than that. It is a fine-grained tale of the realities of life with a child who has a challenging and puzzling disorder, but who is still his unique, loveable self. Parents of children with autistic spectrum disorders will recognize themselves and their families in these pages.”

Miracles Milestones can be ordered at www.trafford.com or by phone at 1-866-638-6884.

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