The Anti-Romantic Child by Priscilla Gilman

I began this book, as a mother of a child with Asperger’s syndrome, not quite sure what to expect. However, I quickly fell in love with how Priscilla Gilman related so much of her experiences to her most beloved poetry. As a reader, you can literally feel the perception shift in Gilman as she comes to terms with the special needs of her son by the way her interpretations of poetry shift. I could relate so well to Gilman’s experiences with her son. I was shocked, though, when I came across the page where Gilman describes hyperlexia because she was describing my son perfectly. It was because she chose to share her story that I was finally able to identify a mysterious piece of my son’s early development and could provide information on hyperlexia to his therapists and doctors. Through sharing her experiences, Gilman provided me with a new understanding of my son and new ways to relate to him. She opens up the discussion on how we come to terms with having children that do not “fit” others’ and even possibly our own definition of “normal.” Gilman shows the power of love to not necessarily overcome adversity, but to accept it as it is, embrace it, and even welcome it. She shows us that through the shedding of who we thought we were supposed to be, who we thought our children were supposed to be, a new way of thinking, a new way of life, a new self emerges. What was once considered anti-romantic becomes most romantic and beautiful through the acceptance of what is and a fierce determination to no longer allow others to define who we are or who we should be. Gilman not only becomes an advocate for her son but also for herself. She grows alongside Benj and finds strength and courage through his experiences and uses them to ultimately find her true self.

I believe everyone should read and will learn so much from The Anti-Romantic Child. We are at a point where excavating our authentic self is more important than ever, and it may just be that the children we’ve labeled as “special” are indeed so, as they are emerging as our greatest and most powerful teachers yet.

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A Love List Update

I mentioned in my last post that I started reading The Power by Rhonda Byrnes, which places love at the center of all transformation and that I decided to start writing a love list twice a day so that I could begin to focus on the things I love rather than the losses I’d been experiencing lately. Byrne states that we only need to focus on love 51% of the time to reach the tipping point of change in our lives. I agree. Writing a daily love list has helped me to recognize and name the things I love and led to an unexpected benefit: the transformation I’ve seen in my son who has Asperger’s Syndrome. After witnessing me writing my love list, he decided he wanted to write one too. As we’ve begun focusing on the things we love throughout the day, our relationship has dramatically improved. He normal has violent outburst on a daily basis, but since we’ve begun writing our love lists, he’s had no violent outbursts for five days! He’s been happier and even more social. He actually acknowledged and played with two girls at the park the other day when his usual behavior is to run from other children and seek solitude. Yesterday, when he was beginning to get agitated and on the brink of an outburst, I told him that I loved it when he smiled and he stopped and began to smile and the outburst was averted. Now, instead of me telling him constantly what I don’t want him to do, we are constantly sharing what we love about each other. This is bringing about more feelings of love for both of us and more loving behavior. Even his therapist noticed a significant change in him at their session on Friday. I have found that searching for things to add to my love list throughout the day has helped me to realize just how much love is already surrounding me. My son has been so affected by our focus on love that today he cut out and colored a variety of hearts and created a Love Wall (see picture) in our living room so we won’t forget to keep love as our biggest priority each and every day.