A poignant account by a woman who learns life-affirming lessons from her autistic daughter.
Jannazzo’s straightforward, moving narrative chronicles how her daughter’s autism transformed the author’s life. The author does not attempt to be heroic; she confesses how life with her daughter was challenging: “I became frustrated. I shouted, ‘Diana, talk to me, sing to me, something, anything at all.’ ” Later, while in the process of making the decision to place Diana in an independent living situation, Jannazzo admits, “I decided to seek professional counseling in order to prepare myself for this major change in our lives and deal with the confusion and guilt I was feeling.” These admissions give necessary depth and pathos to the book. When the work details the support of Jannazzo’s family, however, it begins to sound like a thank-you letter: “Thank goodness for Uncle Louie. He owned a tow truck business and was out working many times in the evenings. As it would take me hours to get Diana to fall asleep some nights, Uncle Louie came to the rescue.” In contrast, Jannazzo’s compelling anecdotes about Diana prove to be the true source of inspiration. She tells how a staff member gave Diana roller skates to see if they could change her behavior after she got into trouble at school. The effect was immediate: “She began to enjoy school; she became the social butterfly as she skated from classroom to classroom to ‘visit’ her classmates, always looking for attention.” Jannazzo celebrates who her daughter is today, “She lives in her own wondrous world, never having learned to read or write, but she is Diana. I think she knows more about life and living and loving than most people I know.”
A reminder to look past a diagnosis and see a person in full.