Why did you write this book?
When I was logging many long months in the hospital with my son, I would sneak out to scour the nearby public library and bookstores by day, and haunt Amazon during the witching hours of night. I was looking for something, anything that would bring me comfort. I wanted to know that someone else had walked along a path like mine. I wanted to share my pain, laugh at the absurd, and be touched by the simple joy of another who chose to see the silver lining in trials that seemed too big to bear. I was terrified of being alone.
Yet while living in the hospital, in the presence of so many people, I felt desperately alone. No one talked about the fear, the questioning, the doubt that overcame us as we watched our children navigate through illness. But I did it anyway. I talked to anyone who would listen, and the outpouring of love and gratitude that came out of that truth-telling is what kept me alive. It gave me permission to experience very human emotions surrounding a terrifying experience where there were more mysterious unknowns than known facts. It solidified my faith in a God of mercy, and a God of grace. And most importantly, it gave me HOPE when people began responding to my words immediately with continuous notes of encouragement, prayers, stories and letters from the heart. That was where I found my healing.
THE CHICKEN WHO SAVED US is that truth-telling, and yes, it is full of sorrow and grief, humor and hope, and glimmers of heaven all swirled together into this crazy thing we call life. It is layered with the love of a boy for his chicken, a mother for her autistic son, a medical community willing to search the world for answers, and a Creator who says he will never leave us.
What surprised you when researching this book?
We are story people by nature. We want our voices to be heard and we want to hear from others who live in the trenches with us. There were so many people around me who were hurting, but there were limited resources for support apart from medical care providers. We were thrust into a situation where we lived just a wall away from another’s pain, yet we knew nothing of one another’s story. It was easy to become isolated.
Medical information is kept quiet under the HIPPA Privacy Laws for good reason, but people’s stories—the ones that need to be told—often fall prey to these very same rules. To this day, people’s faces are etched into my memory, but I can recall very few names, and virtually no stories of those I touched through the wall of my hospital room.
What makes this book relevant today?
When Andrew was born in the early 1990s, autism was a word synonymous with the movie Rain Main. The American public was just becoming aware of the increased prevalence of this rare disorder affecting about 4 in 10,000 children.
Since the early 1990s this number has grown more than tenfold. Today, the instances of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is reported to be 1 in 42 for boys, and 1 in 189 for girls (autismspeaks.org), leaving a staggering number of families to navigate this mysterious inner world. Consequently, those children born today often suffer with comorbid medical anomalies that leave families breaking under the weight of responsibility for the care of their children.
THE CHICKEN WHO SAVED US is a reminder that none of us is ever alone. It is a triumphant story of hope, threaded with humor and a resilience those families need to survive.