(Review by Lisa Metlak for Word Vagabond)
Ben Wickens didn't know he was a father, until his ex-girlfriend called him up out of the blue asking for money for medical bills for their son. He was happy to oblige by sending money and adhering to his ex's request that he not be involved in his son's life. That suited Ben, a happy bachelor, just fine. Until the day his ex called him and said she was bringing their son, Kyle, to live with Ben. She was pregnant with her new husband's baby and just couldn't handle the pregnancy and life with an autistic child. From the moment Kyle came to live with him, Ben felt like an inadequate parent. He didn't know how to manage a 5 year-old child. He was initially in denial that Kyle had autism, but was forced to admit and accept his son's condition quickly. With the help of Kyle's new teacher, Ben learned that having an autistic child was not the worst thing to ever happen, and he found a life with his son that changed him forever.
Within the first few pages, the reader is introduced to the reality of a new parent entering a special needs environment. Not only did this book speak volumes about dealing with autism, but it also provided wonderful explanations of the importance for people to learn and understand the condition. Explanations of autism throughout the book are not clinical and difficult to understand; various ways to help an autistic child calm down and be focused are interspersed subtly throughout the book. Ben witnessed a teacher using techniques on a child that I identified as ones used to calm my autistic son. Had I read this book when my autistic son was young, it would have provided tools to my husband and me to work with and help our son.
The only part of this book that is fiction is the romance. Everything else is a reflection of the realities of living with an autistic child. The little details of how Kyle behaves and how he views our world are so accurate, I found myself nodding my head a lot thinking "yep, I've been there." The therapies used in the book are real therapies for autistic children. There is no "cure" or therapy that makes Kyle normal. The true miracle in this book is how the adults react to the child.
Not only did I enjoy this book, but I told my husband to read it and am recommending it to my friends and family. My husband and I were not as fortunate as Ben to have had people explaining the condition to us and helping us help our son. This book is a gentle way of introducing parents and guardians of autistic children to the world of autism and its various therapies to help the autistic child. Thank you, Dr. Mitchell.