Loving Lindsey: Raising a Daughter with Special Needs by Linda Atwell

Loving Lindsey: Raising a Daughter with Special Needs by Linda Atwell

Lindsey Atwell at her grade twelve graduation ceremony received, instead of a diploma, a certificate of attendance. Why? Lindsey is a high-functioning young adult with intellectual disabilities. I have been enthralled by her story and so will you. I couldn’t put the book down. Get a copy of this just released memoir Loving Lindsey: Raising a Daughter with Special Needs by Linda Atwell.

When Lindsey reached high school, her parents opted to keep her in special education classes where she learned life skills instead of academics. As a retired teacher with thirty years in the school system, I totally agree with this choice as it helped Lindsey be more independent. We applaud her parents’ common sense approach to guiding Lindsey’s decisions and balancing the desires to protect their child and to let her find her own path.

Relatable Story for Parents of Young Adults with Special Needs

Parents also raising a child, teen, or young adult with special needs will be able to relate to the chapters dealing with getting a job, birth control and moving in with a partner, living on their own or in a group home, knowing who is a true friend compared to someone who wants to take advantage of them. Lindsey’s parents hoped their life raising two children was going to be like a merry-go-round ride; however, it turned out to be a roller coaster ride with many loop-de-loops. Atwell is honest about the challenges of raising a child with special needs to adulthood and doesn’t throw any silliness at us about how-this-was-really-a-blessing.

Linda writes in a conversational tone. Reading her book, you will feel you are sitting with a friend chatting over coffee. Other times you feel like a fly on the wall witnessing the complicated relationship between mother and daughter who is an adult and legally able to make her own decisions and yet she will stay a forever-child. You will rejoice with her parents when Lindsey makes another step towards being independent or makes a good decision. You will feel sad and angry when Lindsey’s life goes sideways.

Linda and John’s son says, “It’s extremely well written, flowing smoothly from present day to past moments. There were parts where I chuckled out loud and parts where I had to stop reading for a few minutes cause it makes you want to tear up a bit. She does a great job of describing my sister’s mannerisms and unique vocabulary/expressions throughout the stories…

…This book really hooks you from the beginning, where my parents are on a much needed vacation from the kids, call back to check in on Lindsey, and get some news most parents hate to hear from their child, disabled or not.

If you like a heartfelt story of challenges and triumph over them, this book is for you. If you like a bit of a thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat for a time, this book has some of that in it too actually. I doubt you’ll regret giving this one a try.”

Lindsey was born with the umbilical cord wrapped twice around her neck. Then, at 16 months, she suffered a grand mal seizure then after that she developed tremors that made her head, arms, and hands shake like if she had Parkinson’s. However Parkinson’s disease was never diagnosed. Lindsey has difficulties with learning and behavior.

Special Needs Book Review Recommends Loving Lindsey

We highly recommend you read this book to understand and appreciate the love and devotion, perseverance and determination it takes for parents to get what their children with special needs require to reach their potential. And all this hard work and worrying does not finish with the end of high school. The next phase of their lives just gets scarier and more challenging! ‘Little Kids, Little Problems, Big Kids, Big Problems’ is so true in this case.

What is being said about Loving Lindsey

Press Release about Loving Lindsey: “Linda Atwell’s debut memoir tells the beautiful, tumultuous coming-of age story of her daughter with special needs, Lindsey. Written like a novel, “Loving Lindsey” blends the poignant realism of handling difficult situations with the joy of raising a child, creating a dynamic narrative that will have you hooked from the first chapter.

Dealing with the complex subjects of sexual relationships, independence, and family involvement for people with special needs, “Loving Lindsey” is an emotional story that lovingly brings hard-to discuss topics to light. Atwell’s gorgeous storytelling puts you in the middle of every moment, leaving you laughing and crying as you follow Lindsey’s journey through the highs and lows of growing up…

…At twenty Lindsey quits Goodwill and runs away with Emmett, a man more than twice her age. As Lindsey grows closer to Emmett, she slips further away from her family—but Linda, determined to save her daughter, refuses to give up. A touching memoir with unexpected moments of joy and humor, “Loving Lindsey” is a story about independence, rescue, resilience, and, most of all, love.”

“Loving Lindsey” is a mom’s heartbreakingly honest account of letting go of her daughter, Lindsey. Linda Atwell describes the increasingly rocky relationship between her and her daughter with special needs as Lindsey approached adulthood, along with difficult decisions Atwell and her husband faced as Lindsey matured and began making self-destructive choices. The heroes of this book are Atwell’s fierce and imperfect love for her daughter and Lindsey’s determination to be as independent as possible. “Loving Lindsey” offers parents of children with special needs a glimpse of the challenges their children will face in adulthood and food for thought about how to prepare and navigate them. ~Jolene Philo, author of “A Different Dream for My Child and Does My Child Have PTSD”

Guest Post by Linda Atwell Loving Lindsey

Why I Wrote the Book and the Target Audience: 

When I initially started writing “Loving Lindsey: Raising a Daughter with Special Needs,” I was a member of Top Mommy Blogs in the Special Needs section. I figured— although my daughter was an adult, and most of the other mothers sharing posts had youngsters—eventually their child would transition into adulthood. And maybe my story could help those parents avoid some of the dangers we experienced when Lindsey moved into her own apartment.

However, the further I got into the writing, the more I believed a general audience might appreciate “Loving Lindsey.” After all, many of our children—whether or not they are typical or have a disability—are vulnerable when they first leave the parental nest. The Internet hasn’t made this transition any easier either. And since general audiences have flocked to flicks such as Forrest Gump, Rain Main, The Other Sister, and read books like “Riding the Bus with My Sister” and “Thinking In Pictures,” I opened my mind to the possibility that book clubs and general audiences might enjoy this glimpse of how our family handled adversity.

When “Loving Lindsey” was finished, I recognized that I had actually wanted so much for my girl—despite her intellectual disabilities—to get what a typical kid gets: independence, romantic love, purpose. Fortunately, Lindsey not only wanted, she demanded these things for herself. And, for the most part, she’s succeeded. But with such desires, such goals, sometimes there are pitfalls. Bad things can happen. Yet I hope “Loving Lindsey” readers will see the success people with special needs can achieve when offered parental, educational, and community support. They often have more abilities than we give them credit for. Lindsey continues to surprise us all the time.

Excerpts from Loving Lindsey:

Excerpt #1:

Lindsey gasped again, bringing me back to the moment.

“I asked Gabe if he wanted to keep swinging,” she said. “But he said no.” I glanced in John’s direction, half listening to my daughter. “So I asked him if he wanted to go for a ride in his car. But he said no. So I asked him if he wanted to have sex. And he said yes.”

Immediately, the temperature inside the Hark Rock lobby hit 120 degrees. I wiped the sweat from my forehead, squeezing my eyes tight, shaking my head, wishing her words would go away.

“What?” My shoulders tightened. I gripped the phone with all my might as I stepped away from the group waiting for seats. Did I hear correctly? She went from swinging to sex in less than sixty seconds and didn’t even get dinner first?

Excerpt #2

As I gripped the phone more tightly, I braced for a major showdown with Lindsey. My brain coached me, Stay calm, be logical, use reason, but my hand wanted to reach through the damn phone and force my daughter to change her mind.

“How old is he?” My voice sounded shrill. I knew it did.


“Are you sure?” My sharpness escalated with every word. “He looks older than thirty-five. What do you know about him?” I couldn’t breathe. I felt as if someone had torn open my chest and smashed my lungs. “Has he ever been married?”

“He’s divorced.”

Every muscle in my body stiffened. “He’s your boss. This isn’t appropriate.”

“I love him and he loves me.”

My mouth opened and closed, but nothing came out. How could a man of typical intelligence choose a partner with special needs? That smacked of taking advantage.

Excerpt #3:

I set out several photos taken of Lindsey at different ages. Her hands shook when she picked up each snapshot. Her eyes examined the facial expressions.

“I like this one,” she said, selecting an image of her three-year-old self in a taupe dress with tiny maroon flowers and matching silk ribbon stitched to the bodice. I had tied her golden-blond, wispy curls into a topknot with a maroon bow. Her chubby hands were folded in her lap. “I look happy,” she added, leaving me to finish up.

I smiled. Lindsey did look happy; a genuine grin graced her lips. And those movie-star lashes! The photographer captured a mischievous gleam in my daughter’s baby blues. My fingers touched the photo, and I studied Lindsey’s image for several seconds, trying to find any indication that she had suffered some sort of birth defect. My eyes watered.

Linda Atwell, author of Loving Lindsey

Linda Atwell speaks about her book Loving Lindsey, Raising a Daughter with Special Needs. Linda Atwell and her strong-willed daughter, Lindsey—a high-functioning young adult with intellectual disabilities—have always had a complicated relationship. A touching memoir with unexpected moments of joy and humor, Loving Lindsey is a story about independence, rescue, resilience, and, most of all, love.

Author Bio

LindLinda Atwell Author of Loving Lindseya Atwell lives in Silverton, Oregon with her husband, John. They have two incredible adult children. Linda earned her BA from George Fox College, but it is her entrepreneurial and adventuresome spirits that have inspired her career goals. She owned a successful home décor business for ten years before switching to adjusting catastrophe insurance claims and climbing roofs for a living. Now she writes. Her award-winning work has appeared in print and online magazines. She irregularly writes a blog about her daughter with special needs. Atwell is happiest traveling the world, and hopes to get fifty stamps in her passport before it expires.

Loving Lindsey: Raising a Daughter with Special Needs  is an Award Finalist in the “Parenting & Family” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards.

Read Also: Interview with Linda Atwell Shares About Her Life and Book: Loving Lindsey: Raising a Daughter with Special Needs

Buy Loving Lindsey: Raising a Daughter with Special Needs  Amazon.com  Amazon.ca 

This post was written by Lorna
Lorna d’Entremont: Co-owner of SentioLife Solutions, Ltd. the company behind KidCompanions Chewelry (2007) and SentioCHEWS (2013), mother of three, grandma of 5 and wife. She is a retired teacher and special needs advocate. Throughout she has taught all levels from grade 2 to grade 9. Lorna loved teaching and enjoyed seeing the students progress in the school system. During her 30 year career she took a few years off to raise her three children.