Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Book Review: The life you never expected; thriving while parenting special needs children

Andrew and Rachel Wilson's book is well worth reading for anyone who is part of a church family where there are children full stop.  It is worth reading for all of us because we live in a world where there are children with Special Educational Needs and for so many of us we lack an understanding of what life is like both for the child and the parents and this impacts the expectations we have of them and the way we react to them.

The authors are clear about what the book is not from the off.  It is not a how to book, it is not a book that claims to have all the answers, or to provide universal solutions. Rather it takes us on their journey from the initial shock and grief of diagnosis to dealing with constantly shifting expectations, reactions, and progress or regression of their children.  However, one mustn't pigeon hole this book as only for those with SEN children, it has insights to provide for all who suffer or walk through suffering with those who do, and a particularly helpful chapter on healing.

The book is easy to read and is helpfully set out in 5 cycles of weeping, worshipping, waiting, witnessing and breathe.  They provide a helpful reminder woven into the very structure often book that life parenting children with SEN is not linear but cyclical.  There is a sense of movement and progress but it is often jerky, frequently sporadic and interspersed with times of feeling like you are back to square one.  One of the most beautiful aspects of the book was the glimpses we get of the care provided for Andrew and Rachel by their extended family and their church family.  There is an openness and honesty about the battles within their own hearts, the struggles of faith, and their fears for the future, but throughout there is a warm love for, and trust in, God our Father.

The church should be the best place to bring up special needs children and this book is a significant first step for us in thinking through how we make that so.

No comments: