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Moving Forward - Book Review

Moving Forward: Reflections on Autism, Neurodiversity, Brain Surgery and Faith by Jacki Edry

Reviewed by Gloria Deutsch

Jacki Edry underwent brain surgery and has a child with autism and others with neurologically- based sensory and learning challenges.

And yet her book is full of optimism. It's actually not a depressing read but an uplifting one. Thanks to her deep personal faith and her ability to see the half-full cup, she has produced a vivid account of her life – a difficult one by any standards.

New York-born Jacki made aliyah in 1988 after completing BA studies at Hampshire College. Although not then religious, she describes how an inner spark brought her to Israel. She met her husband, Avi, through the youth department where they both worked and they married in 1995. He was originally from Morocco and had been brought up as an observant Jew.

Her purpose in writing the book was mainly to help those parents who are faced with similar problems and who are looking for understanding and insights about raising children with disabilities.

"I wanted to give some insight into how to choose and work with therapists, medical professionals, and to try and convey to parents what their children might be feeling and experiencing," she says. "Your kids are assigned letters, whether it is ADHD, APD, ASD – and in many cases parents don't know where to begin understanding what the diagnosis means or how to seek out assistance."

She feels there is not sufficient inclusion in schools for children with these challenges and they should be better integrated into the classroom with better support systems available if the parents feel that this is the best option for them.

Autism is still a mystery, and she attempts to explain.

"There are many instances where autistic people might have difficulties forming relationships. In many cases, it is not because they don't want to but because they might be experiencing sensory, motor or other challenges that interfere with their ability to do so in a manner that is easily understandable to others," she explains.

She advises parents to devise a treatment plan from the many choices available. "Listen to your inner voice," she recommends.

I can't resist including a personal note here. When I was a first-year student, I had a boyfriend whose mother invited me to tea one Shabbat afternoon. In the corner of the couch in their living room, a small boy was curled up, silent, wrapped in his own thoughts, not responding to any friendly approaches.

This was the early 1960s and no one had ever heard of autism in those days but in retrospect this was clearly what it was.

The ex-boyfriend went on to become a very distinguished psychiatrist, albeit specializing in a different field.

Jacki's book gives a fascinating glimpse into a world few of us know anything about. The title sums up the optimism in the face of the many problems she has encountered and her book is a truly inspiring read.

Moving Forward: Reflections on Autism, Neurodiversity, Brain Surgery and Faith by Jacki Edry is available on Amazon at the following link:

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Thursday, 18 July 2024

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