A Mother's Account of Raising an Autistic Son
Recipient of the Catholic Writers Guild 2018 Seal of Approval
“A journey of compassion, frustration, and triumph . . . Anderson’s love for her son marks this beautiful portrait of family and faith.” —Publishers Weekly
Paul's Prayers is the story of a moderately autistic young man navigating life with a spiritual intelligence that runs further than most people can walk. Written by Paul's mother, this insightful memoir gives readers a unique look at the challenges and joys of raising her autistic son in a large Catholic family. The first of six children, Paul's early years were an exciting and confusing time for his parents. At the time, very little information on autism and its early signs was available, and the fact that the disorder is a spectrum ranging from mild to severe was not widely known.
Unpredictable outbursts and sensitivities to light and schedule disruptions lead Paul's parents to refer to his condition as "The Marauder." The Marauder sweeps over the hospital nursery as the fluorescent lights blind Paul's eyes. The Marauder throws his black cape over the Christmas holidays, stealing four-year-old Paul's speech for three long days. In school, The Marauder keeps other students at bay, leaving Paul isolated and alone. Finally a developmental assessment gives some clarity to the exhausted family: Paul is on the autism spectrum, and they will all have to adjust their perspectives. Small victories emerge as Paul begins to reach developmental milestones in creative ways. Six years of piano lessons lead to a dramatic improvement in reading skills. A jaunt through the mountains with his father introduces Paul to his talent for running; with his brothers, he joins the high school cross country running team, which goes on to win the state championship. After high school, Paul works for the family business and attends college.
Throughout this intimate memoir, every day is a challenge to be met with creative thinking, patience, and faith. Paul finds comfort in contemplative prayer and the support of his family when the world around him becomes too chaotic. As her son grows up, Susan Anderson learns how to cope with autism and embrace the importance of faith in the things unseen. Her family's experience is a beacon of light for those who find themselves on a similar path.