Embracing Autism: One Father’s Fight for his Wonder Boy
by James E. Strode
URLink Print and Media

"When I treat my son as if he were like an adult with sophisticated reasons for what he chooses, I treat him with more respect, I expect him to do more for himself, and he behaves better."

In his eye-opening and thought-provoking memoir about his autistic son, Jimmy, Strode has put an incredible effort in not only inspiring parents but also building a bridge between those who don't have a good understanding of autism. Born in 2007 and diagnosed in 2009 with autism, Jimmy was surrounded by a plethora of resources and love, but that didn't mean raising him would be easy for Strode and his wife. Initially, the shock of his diagnosis was overwhelming, but they were able to move past the initial misconceptions of autism and embrace their son for who he is. Along the way, Strode learned that, more often than not, the advice he received from experts was not as effective as what he figured out worked for Jimmy. It wasn't that expert advice on such matters should be ignored, but rather that it wasn't foolproof. As this narrative proves, parents are often the ones with the expert opinion due to their personal experiences with their offspring and the most qualified to meet their child's needs.

Each chapter addresses a plethora of different struggles—with anecdotes from Strode's experience with Jimmy—and also the solutions he found worked for his son. Strode is flinchingly and refreshingly honest about his successes, mistakes, and imperfections. He uses his experiences to remind all parents struggling to raise an autistic child that they are human. They will make mistakes, but how they proceed and learn from them is what truly matters. In going through his mistakes and imperfections, Strode also shows his growth as a parent. Ultimately, what strings all the chapters together is the immense love that can be felt throughout these pages. It becomes clear that no matter how frustrated or angry the author might feel at times, love prevails in the end when dealing with his son.

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