In the process of reviewing her book and interviewing her, I have really started to like this wonderful mother a lot. She is smart, she is warm and she is real!
Read her interview and you will see why
Here is her interview
Floortime Lite Mama: What has been the most rewarding aspect of raising a child with special needs?
D.S. Walker: I think she has made me a better person and she has definitely enriched my life. I have been a liberal most of my life, but patience was not one of virtues. She has taught me infinite patience and compassion. She has made me think about so many things that never would have occurred to me before she was born. She is a great philosopher although I do not think she realizes this. I love talking to her.
My passion in high school was writing, but I gave it up after college and I would never have returned to it without her. She gave me my voice back which is helping to heal our family and bring joy back into our lives. The difficulties she has faced in her short life motivated me more than anything else ever could.
Her determination to overcome obstacles amazes and humbles me. I see her work so hard to keep it together when her senses are overloaded. She and others accomplish so much while having to focus with the equivalent of having a bright flashlight shining in your sleep filled eyes or a jack hammer blasting next to you or wearing sand paper for your clothes.
She is an excellent student and she has already set goals for her future. She has musical talent that boggles my mind since I am pitchy when I try to sing. I rarely remember the words to songs much less where they occur in movies and I certainly could never write a song. I am very proud to be her mother no matter what she does in her life.
Floortime Lite Mama : What has been the most difficult aspect of raising a child with Special needs ?
D. S. Walker The most difficult part of raising a child with special needs is forgiving myself for the mistakes I made before we had the right diagnosis. It was hard to forgive my husband and myself for not understanding our own child and consequently for making her life harder by listening to bad advice. It is hard to let go of the anger at others who failed to understand too, but it is also an important step to being fully present to help her.
The hardest part is not directly related to Asperger's Syndrome. The hardest part has been related to all of the misunderstandings and to helping her overcome the effects of bullying. Even her twelve year old brother gets this and he is vocal against bullying and in support of autism awareness. I am very proud of him too.
Floortime Lite Mama: How close are Francesca and Mia in personality to you and your daughter?
D.S. Walker: I changed many things to protect others, and Francesca is a better person than I am I think, but there are similarities. I grew up in the rural South with a close family and animals and I do love the Rocky Mountains and my family, but I have three older brothers and no sisters. I wrote some of Francesca's story the way I wished it had been not the way it occurred.
The close bond Francesca had with Mia is similar to the bond my daughter and I share, but she did not watch me from heaven although there are times I think she can see my soul better than anyone. Mia isn't exactly my daughter either. My daughter composes, but she does not share her compositions with others although we have people who will help her if she ever decides to do this. She did start piano lessons when she was four, but she quit two years ago, and she is in the orchestra, but she does not play the cello. She was not diagnosed with Asperger's until she was ten and we did not have a wonderful aunt to help. All of the events in Mia's life are different than the actual events that happened to my daughter.
Floortime Lite Mama : Francesca always seemed to be the one who best understood Mia and the problems she faced. Sometimes it seemed as though she was the sole-translator. Many mothers find themselves in this predicament - do you have any advice for moms who are in a similar situation where they don’t receive understanding from their inlaws, spouse or parents
D.S. Walker: The best advice is to remember to let your husband help and remember that you love each other. It is easy to get wrapped up in caring for the needs of any child, but when your child is hurting it is especially easy to neglect your relationship with your spouse. Make time to still be a couple and include him as much as possible. Make sure he hears the same things you do from the doctors and/ or therapist so you are both on the same page. My husband has not always understood our daughter, but he has always loved her and he is working hard to mend the relationship with our daughter.
My in-laws are good people who love all of their family. The in-laws in the book are different than my in-laws. They have never been completely out of our lives. Still, their lack of understanding kept them at arm's length at times and we did not push the issue like we should have. This was a mistake in hindsight, so no matter how you feel about your parents or in-laws remember they are your child's grandparents. Do you best to educate them, and if they do not understand, give them time and keep showing them how they can help as long as they are not abusive to your child.
Floortime Lite Mama : Any questions you wished I had asked ?
D.S. Walker : You asked good questions. I would suggest that parents of special needs children accept help when friends offer. Our friends are the ones who have helped us remain sane. They have been there for our son too.
The journey of raising a child with special needs may feel long, but the reward is great!