A Cup of Comfort for parents of Children with Autism – Colleen Sell (and Various)
The tagline read stories of hope and everyday success. I did think going into this book that I was probably going to end up reading accounts that didn’t necessarily sit well with me, but hoped that there would be other accounts that were more interesting to read than “My life was terrible, my child is autistic, then one day he/she said “I love you””
About half of the book is made up of these accounts – there is one where the writer describes a parent’s love for their autistic child as “inspirational”, and that made me cringe. Having an autistic child can be hard work, having an autistic sibling can be hard work, being autistic can be hard work – all of these are true and I do not believing in belittling the hard work of one party by comparing to another. But I do not think that it is any more “inspirational” to love your own children, just because they are autistic, than it is to love your non-autistic children.
With each push (on the swing), I want to believe that the sensation with make his autism better. Lessen the affliction. But this small task, the simple act of giving a loved one all that he wants for the moment is powerful. These moments (…) are so good that it makes me believe that the future will be good.
So yes, there are sections of this book that will be uncomfortable to read for some people and there is talk of finding cures and beating autism and all the other phrases that tend to not sit quite right. There are also chapters detailing the unpleasant and judgmental attitudes and behaviours from members of the general public, and whilst the general public are becoming more aware of autism it doesn’t necessarily mean they understand it or accept it so these chapters are a reminder of that fact.
There are also sections and submissions that are really good, I especially enjoyed the excerpt from the mother planning an escalator party for her son – entering into his special interest and trying to understand why he enjoyed escalators so much.
I found myself wondering about the escalator’s innards (which we once got to glimpse during a thrilling moment with repairmen at a local hospital), its history (who invented it? In what year?) and its manufacturers (Otis and Haughton are two proud names one often sees engraved at the foot).
There are others that track (briefly) how families came to realise that autism wasn’t this terrible thing that the media often portrayed it to be, and that accepting their children and enjoying them as they would any other child was one of the most important things they could do. This entries are better, especially because they don’t try and hide the fact that autism can be difficult for all involved, but instead portray the message that just because something is difficult doesn’t mean it’s bad.
Even with these types of entries I found I wasn’t in any great rush to finish reading the book, and one day eventually forced myself to read through to the end because looking at the 76% on my tablet bookshelf was bothering me. I think part of it is probably because of the “woe is me”/”my child finally said I love you” type entries, and part of this is because this book isn’t aimed at me. It’s a book for parents of autistic children – and since I’m not there isn’t very much I can take from it.
Is it worth reading?
Might be worth a borrow from Kindle Unlimited or a library for some – parents of autistic children might take something from reading accounts written by other parents even if some of these entries aren’t especially positive, for autistic people or professionals in autism fields I wouldn’t bother.