(Published Dec. 1st, 2015)
A mother struggles to understand and cope with the fact that her son has Tourette’s syndrome.
In this debut memoir, former sitcom writer Frazer recalls learning that her son Nicky was on the autism spectrum: in preschool, he was diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome, which gave him chronic physical tics. She had to learn how to navigate this unfamiliar medical disorder she never thought could affect her idyllic life in the suburbs. The author presents a detailed account of dealing with teachers who noticed her son’s odd behavior (“He’s been rocking back and forth on the carpet during circle time the past few weeks”), a principal who deemed him too “immature” at the age of 5, and doctors whom she had to press for information on little-known conditions like Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated. This in-depth examination of conversations with educators, medical professionals, and family members—she even admits that she gets “annoyed with [her] husband” when he isn’t bothered by their son’s tics—provides readers with a behind-the-scenes look at how challenging life can be with a special needs child. She discusses the myriad problems, including addressing her son’s tics (“With a personal plan…oftentimes one can suppress the symptoms a good deal…but there is no perfect solution”). The most refreshing aspect of Frazer’s narrative is that she doesn’t pretend to have a rosy outlook on life. She’s honest about her frustrations, describing fights with her husband in front of the kids and revealing being “spurred on by fury” when she confronted an educator who refused to give Nicky the attention he deserved. There’s a feeling of camaraderie with readers, that they can trust her experiences and opinions because she’s making herself vulnerable on the page. Though her tone is at times lighthearted—at one point, she jokes that at “any time [her son] could…get hit by a taco truck”—she treats parents grappling with Tourette’s with respect. For instance, at the end of each chapter, she includes helpful “tips and takeaways” that summarize and interpret the material for parents. Most of all, she’s encouraging of other mothers in similar situations: “You did not cause this disorder. You are strong enough to handle it….You are not alone….YOU CAN DO THIS.”
An illuminating book that should give parents raising special needs children hope that they can handle a seemingly devastating situation.