Title: Count It All Joy: Life Lessons from a Child with Special Needs
Author: Kathleen Murray, PhD
Reviewer: Lauren Camp
Dr. Murray offers a raw, honest look into the past thirteen years with her son who has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and Autism. The book is divided into short and intriguing life lessons she has learned as her son, Christian, grew up. Murray describes the heartache she first experienced at Christian’s birth and how her original expectations of her son have exceeded her initial thoughts. Her remarkable description of the joy and lessons her son provides for her family portrays a true sense of her family and their love for each other and the growth they have experienced since his birth.
The book provides an interesting perspective of having another child fourteen months after Christian was born with special needs. She accounts how the relationship between her son and his younger sister has been a strong and important component of her son’s development. Murray recounts how she overheard questions from others about having another child so shortly after her son, but she believes the outcome was remarkable for their family dynamic. Her daughter now has a profound sense of compassion and love for her brother. Murray states, “One of the best gifts ever given to Christian was his little sister.”
Murray’s book is a quick and easy read for any new family experiencing a diagnosis of Down syndrome, or a reflective and often funny account for a family of a child who has already experienced a similar situation themselves. After reading this book, many people will be more open to embracing a child with special needs as the joy and lessons they will experience can be compared to no other.
One of my favorite lessons from Murray’s memoir is from “Doors,” which states “Don’t close a door before you know what’s on the other side; it might be wonderful.” This lesson can be applied to so many aspects of life, but particularly when a family is shaken by a diagnosis of Down syndrome. Enjoy your new baby, learn what the future holds as it happens, don’t try and linger about or assume how the rest of your life will be with your new child, simply experience life as it comes.
About the reviewer:
Lauren Camp is the Program Coordinator & Communication Director for the Down Syndrome Association of Delaware. Lauren first became involved with the Delaware organization in 2010 as a volunteer. In 2012, she started the Days of Summer Camp Program and continues to run it as a volunteer. She also works with the National Down Syndrome Congress as their Kids' Camp Director for the annual convention. In 2013, the DSA of Delaware presented Lauren with The Down Syndrome Advocacy Award for her outstanding volunteer efforts.