Sheila Barton’s memoir of autism is inspiring. Finding herself, at thirty years old, with a son with autism and severe learning disabilities, she set about learning how to live a different kind of life and be a different kind of mother. This is the story, told with passion, intelligence and humour, of their journey from darkness into light. It is written out of anguish and anger, but also out of hope and love.
The book opens and closes with a real-life snapshot: the first from when Jonathan was nine, the second from when he was twenty-three. The first is told from the edge of despair. The second is upbeat – the day is one of happiness for Jonny and for his mother. Autism has been integrated into their world – they have survived it.
The chapters in between tell the amazing story of their life together and how they dealt with diagnosis, birth, school, brothers and sisters, travel, therapies, obsessions, grief and sex. Sheila writes movingly of the heartbreak and the joy, the terror and the liberation. Her son is now in his late twenties and she and Jonny began their journey into this strange and difficult world when understanding of autism was very poor. Today, autism is diagnosed more often and attracts more media attention than ever before.
This is the story of the triumph of hope and love over pain and sadness. It is a compelling manifesto for greater understanding of those who are born ‘different’. Its ending is one of empowerment and joy.