What prompted you to write To the Land of the Lost? Have you always been a writer?
I have always loved writing, even as a small child, its the way I express my heart and thoughts. I never imagined that I would write a book about my journey with raising my son with Autism (Aspergers Syndrome), but as I celebrated his 18th Birthday with him and my family, my mind began to re-trace the significant, challenging journey this child had already had in his life and was filled with a desire to somehow allow people a glimpse into how many challenges these children face, and carers face, in raising children with Autism. I don't even describe what I wrote as a book, I simply say 'its my son's journey', because it was. I just felt strongly, looking at my now grown son, that his journey had to be shared to bring comfort to people in the middle of their own journeys, and to bring understanding for others into how difficult it can be to live with Aspergers for my son, but also the entire family unit. I also wanted to help other parents feel they can identify with the many transparent feelings that I share so they know they are not alone in their own feelings; that many of us have gone through that very same minefield of thoughts during the journey. I am proud so proud of my son and all he has had to endure through lack of understanding into his world, and hope that as people read the journey, it will invoke some to realise how difficult these peoples challenges are and be more sympathetic with them and their parents, or carers.
Did any of your family members collaborate with you on the writing or content? If so, how did that work?
I pretty much sat down, and wrote the book in a few sittings. It just poured!..18 years of a lived out story bottled up inside. My Mother said she read it, and re-read it and felt very much that she just could not almost believe how any of us lived through some of Graham's challenges and it was only when she read his life's journey in one neatly compact book, did she fully realise how much went on, even though she was very much a part of it all on a day to day basis seeing it written in one book surprised her as to how much we had all tried to pour into helping to raise our beloved Graham. My twin sister, read it, and sat with my daughter (who is now 17 years old) and asked her 'do you remember having to come around to my house when Graham had his meltdowns?'... My daugher replied...'not really...'...and I turned to my twin and said 'Do you now realise Tonya how much you protected my other two children that they would not even remember the difficult times...you shielded them when I needed you'..and my twin cried some more!...but it was the truth. What more of a gift could she have given to me other than this response from my daughter. Now that's the true shape of 'Support' that families need during those challenging years.
What do you think is the most important advice you can offer to parents of children with Asperger's?
Love these children just as they are! Encourage them, believe in them, back off when you sense inside they are under too much pressure and expectation...don't give in to anyone else placing unnecessary pressure on them out of fear of how their lives will turn out. Just live in each day, pressing in to opportunities by all means, but do it with a gentle no rush approach. Let these children breathe and grow, even if it's like a dripping tap sometimes!
How do you think your mothering experiences would be different without your faith?
I am not sure I would be where I am today with clinging to my beloved Lord, my Father through the grace of His Son, Jesus, who gave me the gift of free access to the very heart of my Father God! Today, my relationship has gone from deep to even deeper and I know that it was during these often raw and traumatic of tears being spilled out in the evening time of my own pain, that an intense intimacy grew in my heart for Him that made me. Those years were the foundations of a strong faith that I have today. He gave me compassion through others when I needed it, help when I grew weary in the shape of my own family, and became the one I ran to when I had to pour out my heart to someone!. I wouldn't truly give away the 'gift' that was in those hard, often isolated painful years, for anything. Its where I began to know my Father God, so that makes those years precious.
Are you working on other writing projects now? Is there a way readers can reach you?
It would be my delight to have any readers reach me on this email (firstname.lastname@example.org)!
I am currently working on a second book, this time it's truly about the deepness of my faith today, the aftermath of the years since those challenging days, but it's centred on all the Lord is doing in and with my life for me and for others.
Is there anything else you would like to tell Book Pound readers?
I would just like to say to them, if you have are raising a child with Aspergers, then read my book! It was a difficult decision for me to expose my life and my son's life, as its very personal, but I wanted to reach out into the world of Carers in Autism just to support them on those lonely nights after they may have experienced a challenging meltdown day with their child.
If you know someone whose child has Aspergers, then read it also.....you can at least get a glimpse into their world and bring those stirred compassion and wanting to help practically feelings to that person to support them.
And I want to say....to anyone that has read my book, thank you so very much. Pass it around.....let it touch someone's heart and broaden their understanding into the world of Aspergers.