Autism & Alleluiahs, by Kathleen Deyer Bolduc. Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press, 2010. 149 pp. $14.00. ISBN 978-0-8170-1568-8.
Reviewed by John E. Shaffett
This is the author's version of a work that was submitted/accepted for publication in the following source:
The Christian Librarian, 55 (1) 2012 : 41-42.
Living with a disabled child or adult is difficult and exhausting. Can the Christian faith help someone caring for a disabled child? What can the church do to help support families caring for people with disabilities? Kathleen Bolduc in Autism and Alleuiahs seeks to answer some of these questions. Bolduc is a nationally recognized author and speaker on working with the disabled. She is also the mother of an adult son with autism.
Autism & Alleluiahs is not a biography or a book explaining everything you need to know about autism. It is a book about one family and their experience in raising a son, Joel, who has “autism, intellectual disabilities, and an anxiety disorder” (xiii). It is also a book about how the Christian Faith, friends, family, case workers, and the church have helped the family experience strength during their difficult times and to grow stronger. Bolduc says that Joel has been her greatest teacher. One of the important lessons he has taught his mother is to slow down and enjoy the moment. Another lesson is that the disabled are a gift from God. This message was shared with Bolduc from a Lakota Sioux. He told Bolduc that his people considered each disabled child as God’s gift to teach his people compassion.
Autism & Alleluiahs is organized into thirty-nine small chapters. Each chapter includes a scripture verse, a personal story, and a prayer. The story has two parts to it: a troubling situation and how God provided his grace to help with the situation. For example, Bulduc was trying to get Joel ready for school one morning and the toilet would not flush. She told him she would take care of it. He refused to leave it and get ready for school. Joel eventually caused the toilet to overflow and poop was on the floor. She asked a friend, “Where in the world is the alleluiah in a poopy morning” (124)? Her friend responded, “You know, Cathy, I seem to remember that quite a few of your chapters begin with a groan before you get to the alleluiah. The alleluiah is there. You just haven’t found it yet” (124). The great strength of this book is that Bolduc does not sugarcoat the difficulties. The encouraging part is how God has used all these difficulties to make the whole family grow.
Autism & Alleluiahs is a well-written book with fluent prose that teaches us how God can use trials to help us to grow to maturity. It also shows that Christians have an important role to play in supporting families with disabled family members. This book is highly recommended.