Blog #143~Count It All Joy Life’s Lessons from a Child with Special Needs
This week I wanted to highlight a book I just finished reading. The book is titled; Count it all Joy- Life’s Lessons from a Child with Special Needs by Kathleen Murray, PhD.
Count it All Joy chronicles Kathleen Murray’s candid account of her inner struggles after learning about her son’s diagnoses of Down syndrome, autism and a congenital heart defect. Her book is a testimony of the life lessons her son, Christian has taught her. Lessons that she may have not learned had it not been for what many others consider his disabilities.
Each lesson has a heading such as “Doors,” “Heart”, and “Worry” that opens up a different world of caring for a child with special needs. These lessons are paired with spiritual quotes from scriptures that complement the journey and ultimately the transformation towards unity, happiness, humility and ultimately unconditional love.
Her desire to tell her stories is to let parents and caregivers of a child with special needs know this: “It’s not going to be okay; it’s going to be better than okay-much, much better!”
In Lesson 3 “Doors” she felt the emotional doors shut immediately upon Christian’s birth. The doctors could hardly look her straight in the eye, as they delivered the news that he had Down syndrome. Negative images came into her mind, like he won’t go to college; instead he will pack groceries or wipe tables. I certainly recall the same scenario when my son Nick was born 22 years ago. Nick also has Down syndrome and autism.
In Lesson 4 “Locks”, Kathleen writes about the vigilance of being on constant watch of her son. This is certainly a common theme when taking care of a child with both Down syndrome and autism. Elopement is a concern, and a topic I covered in last week’s blog.
In Lesson 6 “Eyes” she candidly describes how she disliked Christian’s squinted eyes when he was born. Again, those negative images bubbled to the surface on what he may never be. In this lesson you can see her transformation clearly happening. It is very moving.
These lessons are honest and filled with struggle, grief, humor and hope. In Lesson 8 “Mirrors”, there is a letting go of those negative images. You can feel the shift which turns to joy. “Christian has given me the strength to see him and see myself as God sees us, without labeling, categorizing, or judging, and with pure, unconditional love reflected in our image in the mirror”.
I appreciate these lessons and can attest to the fact that my son Nick has taught me so much about life and love. I’m a much better person because of Nick. Yes there have been struggles, but finding the joy out of them is the most powerful message of all. Count It All Joy would make a wonderful gift for Mother’s Day. Signed, personalized copies are available from Dr. Murray by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or online at WestBow Press, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble.
Kathleen puts it perfectly, “Choose joy in the face of challenging circumstances in order to live a life of contentment and hope”. The flower can emerge from the icy ground. And yes, it is going to be “better than okay, much, much better! That’s what is in my noggin this week!
@Down syndrome With A Slice of Autism-