Emily Perl Kingsley joined the writing staff of Sesame Street in the early 1970’s and is credited with creating several stories for children. What many didn’t know was Kingsley reared a son with Down’s Syndrome. Together they wrote a book about their experience, Count Us In: Growing Up with Down Syndrome.
In 1987 she touched the hearts of many parents, including me, when she wrote an article about raising a child with a disability. She compared the experience of preparing for a new baby like planning a trip to Italy. Getting ready requires reading travel brochures, choosing sites to see, packing your bag. All your friends are going to Italy, too, so you can share the event together. But, Kingsley states, when you get off the plane you’ve landed in Holland. There’s nothing wrong with Holland, but it’s not the trip you planned. You begin to read different brochures and learn about the place where you landed.
Disabilities in children are like that unplanned trip. Parents must read new books and discover what makes their child unique, whether the diagnosis is Down Syndrome, Autism, Spina Bifida, or any other number of maladies that can strike without warning. Their journey will take them in directions they never knew existed.
In this final post about the story behind the story, McKenna Nichols, the mother in my debut novel, An Anchor On Her Heart, is faced with rearing her autistic daughter alone. Her husband has chosen to work away from home.
When my daughter, who has autism, was young, I attended support group meetings for parents of autistic children. Too often I witnessed the heart-wrenching loneliness of a single parent whose spouse had bailed out, leaving him or her to forge the future alone.
McKenna Nichols, my heroine, must make choices she never thought she’d need to make. Her decisions affect not only her, but the outlook for her child.
It is a story with hope. McKenna finds friends along the way who offer encouragement and support to the young mother. Order your copy today. It is now available at Amazon books on pre-order with the release date August 1.
Thanks for listening.