A Pair Of Miracles: A Story of Autism, Faith, and Determined Parenting, by Karla Akins
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Kregel Book Tours. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
Although this book is marketed as a memoir of the mother of adopted autistic twins, this is a far more complicated book than first meets the eye. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it should be recognized. The author assumes through the course of the book that the reading audience is made up of people like her, parents of children with autism. In my case, although I write about autism and related disorders from time to time , I have no autistic children, or any other children for that matter. Even so, I found much to appreciate in this book, particularly the author’s balance in dealing with the question of how to raise children to be as independent as possible, and to demand that those around her helping her children be filled with the same sense of optimism that she herself is. The book is therefore of interest to a wider audience than the author aims at, and that is something for which the author can be very pleased.
In terms of the contents and structure of this book, this is a memoir with a twist, or perhaps a few twists. The overall flow of the book is chronological in nature, presenting the author’s background, her fertility problems that led her to adopt, and her wrestling with the demands of special needs children as well as being a pastor’s wife with her own budding ministry. Throughout the book we read a lot about the problems verbalizing the author’s children has, as well as their complex suite of problems resulting in part from fetal alcohol syndrome. A substantial amount of the book is taken up with the author’s interest in helping to aid the education of autistic children whether they end up in public schools, private schools, or are home-schooled. And although the author attempts to keep a charitable mood towards educational and health professionals, there is a great deal in this book that shows the author’s frequent frustration with schools and doctor’s offices and the fact that parents are not viewed with respect as being experts on the well-being of their children. Despite the author’s conscious efforts to be kind, this irritation shows up over and over again.
Ultimately, this book is going to be of most interest to those who either have high-functioning autism themselves or have people with autism in their family or immediate circle. This book does not shy away from controversy, whether it is showing an open-mind to thoughts that the rapid increase of vaccinations for children could be having serious effects on mental health, or whether it is providing a large amount of material for home teaching strategies and occupational therapy as well as rewards and reinforcement, fidget toys, a functional skills checklist, and further resources for readers. Throughout the book the author shows herself to be grateful to those who provided her with help in some fashion, and she recognizes that even more than is usually the case, successfully raising children like her twin boys requires a great deal of help from a larger circle of helpers. Those who have children with autism and are looking for encouragement as well as practical advice on how to best rear and educate their children will find much to offer here, and as such this book is warmly recommended, although for a somewhat niche audience.
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