4 out of 4 stars
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From as young as three years old, it was clear that Anthony, Jr. was different. He had trouble concentrating, didn’t interact well with other children, and struggled to retain anything for longer than a few minutes. His mother (the author) realized her son was struggling with a serious developmental disorder and, after numerous consultations with specialists, Anthony, Jr. was diagnosed with autism. Soon after, her second son was also diagnosed, this time with Asperger Syndrome. With two ‘special’ children in the family, the author had to learn to navigate through daily challenges, where the simplest of tasks needed careful planning and sometimes seemed impossible.
This book describes the hardships Catherine Marinelli-Gagliano and her sons faced through the years. Opposition in the form of uncooperative family members, thoughtless medical professionals, and even accusations of abuse from Child Protective Services made dealing with these disorders even more difficult. Through it all, this mother remained resolute in finding the best possible solutions for her boys. It was during these difficult times she learned to rely heavily on her instincts in deciding what was best for her family. That is why, more than once, she mentions the innate intuition that a mother has in knowing her own children and discerning what’s best for them.
A Mother’s Intuition is a relatively quick read, totaling twenty-two short chapters. It is largely anecdotal, with each chapter describing defining events in the two boys’ lives, from birth until their mid-teens. Written from a mother’s perspective, it bears testimony to the challenges, heartbreak, angst, and guilt that parents of children with special needs have to face.
One interesting aspect of this book is how it begins in the present and regresses to when the boys were born. Hence, the story is in reverse chronological sequence. It was a little difficult to follow this style at first, but I soon became used to it. This technique emphasizes the journey the family undertook over those first fifteen years which eventually brought them to their present state of optimism, positivity, and hope.
I was struck by the amount of prolonged stress that this mother endured in raising her two boys. The angst and pain she and her husband suffered while making the correct decisions for them must have been immeasurable. She also had to endure her own mother’s diagnosis with uterine cancer, as well as her personal battle with Graves’ disease. In reading the author’s personal blog, I was not surprised to learn that sometime after publishing this book she herself suffered a heart attack. I couldn’t help thinking this could have been brought on by the prolonged state of anxiety she was living in. Thankfully, she has since made a full recovery.
Learning from her own experiences, Catherine Marinelli-Gagliano has become an advocate for special-needs children and works tirelessly to ensure society provides them with specialized attention and opportunities to grow. She also has a clear message for their parents: Do not suffer in silence but feel free to ask for help on how to live with the heartache. Moreover, she encourages them not to be ashamed of seeking professional help and/or taking medication. These are words which will undoubtedly provide solace to many parents struggling to cope.
I read through this book twice, certain there must have been some grammatical or spelling mistakes that I had missed. There was only one minor issue which hardly bears mentioning. This book is beautifully written in a style which flows easily and is impeccably edited. I unhesitatingly award A Mother’s Intuition a rating of 4 out of 4 stars. It is a book written straight from the heart and will appeal to any parent whose child has developmental problems. Even parents of neuro-typical children will find this story heartwarming and beneficial if only to remind them to never take any child for granted. This book may not appeal to people who do not have their own children and is certainly not recommended for those who prefer a light-hearted read.
After finishing this story, I had a renewed respect for parents with autistic children and also for the children themselves, who are clearly fighting a heartbreaking battle all of their own.
A Mother's Intuition
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