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Raising Henry: A Memoir of Motherhood, Disability, and Discovery

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  • Posted December 23, 2013

    As someone who has spent her life with a younger sibling with sp

    As someone who has spent her life with a younger sibling with special needs, and worked with the mentally challenged, including many Down syndrome children, youths and adults, I was particularly intrigued to hear about this book. Rachel Adams is an academic, her husband is a lawyer and when their second child is born their world is thrown into surreal chaos when he is diagnosed as suffering from Down syndrome. Raising Henry is her memoir of the first three years of Henry's life, during which she is forced to navigate the medical, educational and social service worlds in pursuit of the best care for her child. This is a beautiful tale, but also a sad one. A joyous one but also a bitter one. Which is fitting as the experiences she relates run an almost unimaginable gamut. She doesn't just write about her own life, but offers insight into the past treatment children such as Henry would have received. It is chilling to see how recently - the 1970's - the standard advice was: Institutionalize your child. That we have come as far as we have in welcoming children with disabilities into our society, rather than hiding them away, attempting to give them everything they need to be as whole and successful as possible, is heartwarming. But there is still much more to be done, and Rachel Adams shines a light on how one woman can make the difference, and how one little boy can instill such determination, and such love, not only in his mother and father but in everyone who meets him. Adams doesn't shy away from making admissions that may not shine a good light on her. She talks about her own frustrations and reactions. But she also introduces you to a wonderful cast of characters, and some not so wonderful, and you are welcomed into her world by virtue of her honest story. If you do not know anyone who has a child with Down, if you have never contemplated the world and the struggles of the disabled, this book will illuminate so much. And if you do, as I do, then this book will be equally as powerful because you will see yourself in much of Adams' story.

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