If you’re a mom raising a child (or children) with special needs, you know the ache, the loneliness, the worry and fear that can become consuming if you let it. I’m a reader. Love reading. And so I’m in my happy place when I stumble across a book that can encourage or enlighten me on this special needs parenting journey.
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And now, without any further ado, here are my favorite five books for encouraging the special needs mama heart:
Wonder by R.J. Palacio. Ok, if you haven’t read this book, or watched the movie yet, you are truly missing out! I read this book when it first came out (2012), before I had even really entered the world of special needs parenting. I loved the book. I reread it recently, when I learned they were making it into a movie, and loved it even more. I could sooooo relate to the parents in the story, when before, I was mainly focused only on the main character, Auggie who has Treacher Collins syndrome. It’s a beautiful story with a beautiful message that all people need to read, but a special needs parent can definitely connect with.
Not Your Typical Dragon by Dan Bar-El. Yes, this is a children’s book, but our whole family loves it. Typical dragons breathe fire, but Crispin cannot–instead he has an ability that is not so typical. Bar-el creates an entertaining and encouraging tale aimed at children who long to be appreciated for what they can do, and a gentle reminder to parents that if your child can’t do exactly what you expected, what they can do is pretty amazing too.
The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing, Genius, and Autism by Kristine Barnett. This is the inspiring true story of a mother so determined to help her nonverbal son diagnosed with severe autism that she pulled him out of school and decided to teach him herself, using the things she knew he was interested in. Before long, her eleven-year-old son Jake was attending physics, astronomy and math classes at the college level, though he lacked proper social skills and couldn’t yet tie his shoes.
I loved this book because I think we tend to focus on our children’s weaknesses and work to help them in those areas, but this mother realized (and inspired me!) to pour into her child’s strengths as a way to help him learn and function in the world.
Different: The Story of an Out-of-the-Box Kid and the Mother Who Loved Him by Sally Clarkson and her son Nathan Clarkson. This book alternates with a fascinating chapter of Nathan’s perspective growing up, dealing with his various diagnoses, and what he remembers about his parents’ support growing up, and then a chapter from his mother Sally’s perspective. The themes woven throughout is a faith-based encouragement to love and nurture the child God gave you, and the love this mother and child had for each other despite the challenges. Reading each chapter from Nathan’s perspective was very eye-opening for me, and in each of Sally’s chapters, I found myself agreeing with her vulnerable thoughts and struggles and doubts as a Christian special needs mom. Definitely a great read.
*Updated November 20, 2018. Originally, Held: Learning to Live in God’s Grip by Sandra and Lee Peoples was on this list*
Sandra’s newest book Unexpected Blessings: The Joys and Possibilities in a Special Needs Family is filled with Bible-based encouragement and practical and helpful tips for navigating the special needs parenting journey. Sandra shares her wisdom, her experiences, and her faith, and then gives you the opportunity to process your own journey with reflection questions at the end of each chapter. I especially recommend it for anyone new to the special needs journey or seeking God’s plan and purpose in their special needs parenting journey.
This is a book I wrote and pray would be a blessing and encouragement for Christian mamas of children with special needs. Embracing This Special Life will help you:
-View the special needs parenting journey from a biblical perspective
-Release expectations, negative thoughts, and emotions that are not healthy for you or your family
-Embrace God, yourself, your children, this special needs journey, and life itself to its fullest.
There were so many good books to choose from, but these are my top five in no particular order. Your turn! What books did I miss that have inspired you as a special needs parent? Or what are you planning to read now? Share with us in the comments below! 🙂