Last night I finished Cowboy & Wills: A Love Story by Monica Holloway. This is only the first part of the description on the book flap: The day Monica learns that her lovable, brilliant three-year-old son, Wills, has autism spectrum disorder, she takes him to buy an aquarium. It's the first in a string of impulsive trips to the pet store to buy animals as a distraction from the uncontrollable, crushing reality of Wills's diagnosis. But while Wills diligently tends to the growing menagerie, what he really wants is a puppy. And one Christmas, when Wills is six, Cowboy Carol Lawrence joins their family....
There were times that I felt like this book was written just for me. Many of Monica Holloway's experiences and emotions were very similar to my own during the diagnosis and acceptance stage of autism. Her impulsivity and need to find control were easy for me to relate to, although I know that they seem unreasonable to some. I've read some criticism of her way of dealing with the situation, but I don't agree. As a parent, you do what you can to make things better for your child, and nobody is going to deal with that in the same way.
There is a part when she is given feedback from the professionls after months of testing and she says, "The diagnosis was expected, but reading paragraph after clinical paragraph, forty-eight pages of what Wills could not do--how ill at ease he was with the world and himself--was crushing..." She captures it right there. This is why I hate IEP meetings.
What I loved about this book was that it was hopeful. She took the situation and found a way to laugh about things, to enjoy her son's individual strengths, and help him move on. The stories about Cowboy's puppy days were wonderful. I also felt connected to those. Cowboy ate horse poop, and hey, Dixie likes goose poop! I am so glad that a friend brought this book to my attention. It's comforting to know that somebody has been where you are, and that they found hope and humor in it. 5/5