D.S. Walker found a delightfully different approach to portray the struggles of a young girl and those of her family arising from raising a child with special needs. Mia, the daughter, is finally diagnosed with sensory sensitivity with Asperger’s traits. While all the characters in her book exist only in the author’s imagination, Walker’s novel, Delightfully Different, brings them so well to life that any parent, teacher, or young girl, dealing with the same issues can relate, learn and find hope. The family’s fictitious journey spans twenty years and is told from both Mia and her mom’s perspective.
What category of books does Delightfully Different belong to?
Delightfully Different is an award winning YA novel. We witness the family struggling to get a diagnosis, explaining to family and friends about their “different“child, overcoming problems in the education system, coping with bullying, and living with the strain all this is causing in their marriage and with a sibling. As Mia’s life unfolds and we read about her strange behavior, we soon realize that we are witnessing the symptoms that are the red flags signs of SPD and Asperger’s. Like Tony Atwood, world renowned psychologist said, “There are many facts within fiction.”
It is believed that many girls and young women with Asperger’s are not being diagnosed early enough or are misdiagnosed and, that they and their families spend years not receiving the correct treatment or any treatment or support at all. Delightfully Different, like Julie Clark’s Asperger’s in PINK, will help open eyes to get the accommodations and support these young girls deserve. Young women readers will also see in the main character, Mia, a child with exceptional language skills, musical ability, and a phenomenal memory which shows the two sides of a person with Asperger’s.
For parents who are searching for answers as to why their child seems to be different, or why his behavior is so difficult it can be like a parenting book. By reading about Mia’s life from birth to university, they might have “ aha” moments and solutions to their problems will become clearer. They will know how to proceed and the first step is usually to seek professional help for their child. If their own child cannot express how he feels, they can get a poignant glimpse into the life and mind of Mia, the girl with Asperger’s.
Then, with the clever way Walker has presented her message, all can read this novel as an entertaining book … and then the special needs community will have all these readers who are more aware and understanding of their situation. Ms. Walker says in her introduction, “My hope is that this book will inspire people to become more tolerant as they become more informed.” Bravo for you, Ms. Walker, mission accomplished!
The author delves in the touching and sometimes upsetting relationships in Mia’s life. This girl with quirky behaviors, who no one understands, often finds her environment too over stimulating and this often brings her at odds with those in her path: her father, her brother, her paternal grandparents … Walker wrote about Mia, “No one seemed to understand, and I couldn’t explain it because I didn’t really understand either. I wished I knew why I was different, but since I didn’t I was angry with my family and especially Cal (her brother) for not understanding.”
Morgan and her gang talked about me and made sure they said things loud enough for me to hear, which meant it really sounded loud to me. They made fun of my clothes. They called me gross names. They even blocked the entrance to the girls’ bathroom. It reached the point where I begged to stay home…
Mia, the main character
I was so pleased to see how Walker included the serious topic of bullying in her book. Your heart will go out for Mia and many times I had to remind myself that this was only fiction. Unfortunately, if you have a child with special needs, you will know only too well that bullying happens every day in all our schools. Does Ms. Walker know how it is? Her character Mia speaks, “… Morgan and her gang talked about me and made sure they said things loud enough for me to hear, which meant it really sounded loud to me. They made fun of my clothes. They called me gross names. They even blocked the entrance to the girls’ bathroom. It reached the point where I begged to stay home…” Many will appreciate reading how Mia’s parents dealt with bullying.
Ms. Walker on her site explained, “Every time I hear of a child ending their life after being bullied my heart cries. My child was a victim of bullying a few years ago. At the time the books for middle school girls were all about being mean to be popular and other mothers were okay with their daughters being mean. This inspired me to write Delightfully Different to teach tolerance of differences. I truly believe we are all unique in some way, even if we do not admit it. It is time to change the climate in our schools to one of tolerance and kindness.”
The book ends with wonderful examples of the importance of forgiveness. Without telling you more to ruin your enjoyment of reading the book, I leave you with one of Ms. Walker’s great suggestions, “Forgiving … helped me to overcome my anger about the past so I could move on with my life.”
Delightfully Different, D.S. Walker tells us at the end, might have a sequel with Cal, the brother as star and Mia meeting her boyfriend. Your public will be waiting!
From her site we learn, “D. S. Walker has been a registered nurse for over twenty-five years and has extensively studied sensory processing issues related to Asperger’s Syndrome. She lives in Honolulu, Hawaii, with her husband and two children.”
D. S. Walker writes the Word Press blog, Delightfully Different Life, about bullying, girls on the autism spectrum, gratitude and forgiveness.
Delightfully Different received the prestigious BRONZE AWARD by the Young Voices Foundation Awards judges in Categories Regional Youth West Pacific and Regional Teen/YAWest Pacific. It also earned a BLUE SEAL of APPROVAL in the Spiritual/Inspirational Category. Young Voices Awards are sponsored by the Young Voices Foundation and honor books that Inspire, Mentor, and/or Educate Readers of all ages.