How should one measure the depth of a mother’s love for her child? Is it by tearing out her traumatized heart from her bosom and spreading it out for everyone to see? Or would you do it by asking her to give up her child in return for not losing everything that she holds dear? The dilemma presented by a mother’s love for her autistic son makes Journey to Acceptance: Finding Hope, Support, and Peace for your Autistic Child by Michelle Vanessa O’Reilly an emotional reading experience. It confronts the reader with a sensitive topic and one that leaves one feeling vulnerable.
Having an autistic child is not a challenge that anyone will take pleasure in or even easily understand. From the author’s recollections, I can feel her deep-seated tiredness, fear, and anguish at constantly caring for someone with a neurological and developmental condition that makes the person unable to fend for himself. Her small victories go hand-in-hand with unforgiving setbacks. How or where it leads to is always at the back of the reader’s mind.
It is easy to get so embroiled in the story. One wonders with dread if the mother will ever reach the breaking point and if catastrophe is just around the corner. Will a mother’s love turn to despair? When it does, should one just cry along with the broken mother or recoil in horror? Reading along, I was not able to contain my admiration for her resilient spirit and her courage. What gave her and her family the strength to survive the ordeal was her strong faith in the Divine Providence. With a compelling first-person narrative, the author provides the reader with a front-seat view of the turmoil and pain she was experiencing. Readers will find O’Reilly’s book an eye-opener and the subject relevant to the times. When all seemed lost, it was heartwarming to read of people who were willing to help her find the light at the end of a dark tunnel. Advertently or inadvertently, the author’s experiences have turned into radiant symbols of hope and a significant triumph for humanity.
– The Moving Words Review
Official entry: The Most Moving Book Award, Jan. 3, 2022
About the Author. Michelle Vanessa O’Reilly, a native of Toronto, Canada, is a graduate of Oakwood University and Clark Atlanta University. She has worked as an elementary school teacher for over twenty-five years, with an increasing focus on autism and special needs. She resides with her family in Orlando, Florida and has an upcoming companion storybook to Journey to Acceptance, this time for children. She has learned to listen closely to Jesus’s voice as she makes decisions in this journey. Michelle can be reached via Instagram at michelleo13 or on her website.