Gravity Pulls You In: Perspectives on Parenting Children on the Autism Spectrum
edited by Kyra Anderson & Vicki Forman

Woodbine House, 2010. ISBN 978-1-606-13002-5.
Reviewed by Judy Miller
Posted on 07/14/2010

Anthologies/Collections; Nonfiction: Life Lessons; Nonfiction: Relationships

Gravity Pulls You In is a collection of thirty-three essays and poems written by parents of children who are on the autism spectrum. Autism is not a disease but a disorder. The common thread of children who have autism is some degree of social impairment.

In his forward, John Elder Robinson, autistic himself, states that autism is all the autistic child knows. The autistic child may be aware of having less ability, but autism is their "normal." However, autism is not normal for the parent. In one essay, a mother says that she died the day her daughter was diagnosed as a savant.

These honest essays and poems examine the physiological and emotional toll that autism has on parents. Parents share personal experiences and perspectives about how their child's disorder affects them and how they see themselves as the "outsiders," trying to understand and move their children forward into functioning closer to "normal." Within the pages, parents discuss how they have become advocates for awareness of autism and for early intervention to help their children.

Through their stories, parents explain how the diagnosis of autism redefined their worlds and their parenting roles. In "Evolution of a Fairy," Carolyn Walker says, "When it is impossible for a child to change, a mother must, I discovered. It is the only way to keep the heart whole." Another mother asks, "Will today be the day you can start being the mother you wanted to be?"

Parents detail how difficult "autism land" can be, marked by therapies, IEPs (IEP is an acronym for individualized education plan, which outlines in detail what instructional and other special services will be provided for children with special needs), clinical charts, disclaimers, and more labels. And even through the anguish of the stories and poems, the reader hears hope, love and compassion in the voices of the parents who are growing inside of themselves, deliberately and fully embracing their journeys.

Kyra Anderson's work has appeared in Tiny Lights, Bust Out and 100 Hats. She lives in New England with her son and husband.

Vicki Forman is the author of This Lovely Life: A Memoir of Premature Motherhood. Her work has appeared in the Seneca Review and the Santa Monica Review, as well as the anthologies, Love you to Pieces: Creative Writers Raising a Child with Special Needs, This Day: Diaries from American Women, and Literary Mama: Reading for the Maternally Inclined. She lives outside of Los Angeles with her husband and daughter.

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