Danny’s Special Collection
I was recently gifted Danny’s Special Collection, a children’s book by Susan A. Vernick, and illustrated by her mom, Natalie G. Smith. This is a beautiful children’s book about inclusion, and educating children and adults on acceptance of all differences.
The story reflects time Susan spent taking long walks with her brother while he gathered unique collections during each outing. When Susan asked him why he was collecting the items, he would only answer, “It’s for a special reason, for a special person.”
Like Jess, Danny was diagnosed with autism decades ago. Autism was such an unknown back then. While there is now a better understanding of autism and the neurodiverse world, there is still a long road for many to travel before they begin to see in a deeper and broader light.
The Long Road to Understanding
When I started blogging, my ultimate goal was to show what it was like to share a life with a dependent adult child. It’s not always easy, and we have been through some very rough patches over the years. However, day to day we lead a happy and joyful life.
As Autistic Interpretations’ following has grown, so have the messages that come to me. They come through direct messages, email, and comments on social media or blog posts. Most, and when I say most I mean 99.9% of the messages are kind, complementary and supportive. Some of those messages are from moms and dads seeking advice, guidance, or simply a listening ear.
The most heartbreaking messages I get are from moms who share with me that they wish they had the kind of family support that they see in our family, and especially in Nonnie and Granddad. In a face to face meeting, one mom tearfully told me her story about how much her heart aches because her parents don’t understand their journey. This mom couldn’t celebrate her child’s victories with her own parents because they had no idea how hard they work to achieve what others may consider the simplest of tasks. Other moms have experiences with family members and friends who think all that is needed is more discipline.
On the other side of the pendulum are family and friends who don’t grasp the depth of our children’s thought processes, personalities, feelings and emotions because they aren’t readily apparent. All we can hope to do is explain it enough times to make a difference or encourage them to take time to see it for themselves.
A Deeper Look
To say I was moved by this story would be an understatement.
As I read about Danny’s Special Collection, I wondered what they were for. But, I also thought to myself that there doesn’t have to be a ‘reason’ other than beauty and fascination. Danny did have a reason, though; an amazing, deep and thought out plan to express himself to his family, to explain to them what they each represent to him in his life. Through these seemingly random collections and articulations, Danny beautifully expressed his love and appreciation for the roles they all played in his life.
To say I was moved by this story would be an understatement. My hope for many of you is that Danny’s Special Collection has a message for your loved ones who are still on that long road to understanding – a message to look deeper, try harder, and please don’t underestimate.
Danny’s Special Collection
by Susan A. Vernick & Natalie G. Smith
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