Moving Forward: Reflections on Autism, Neurodiversity, Brain Surgery and Faith is a book filled with novel ideas about the experience of neurodiversity by a neurodiverse mother of neurodiverse children. Author Jacki Edry was better prepared than most for the experience of raising children with disabilities. Edry volunteered with an autistic child in her community as a teen. She then attended Hampshire College, a school known for its alternative, self-directed curriculum, where her thesis was “Educating Autistic Children.”
The reader of Moving Forward might be excused for coming to the conclusion that a Higher Power had, for much of her life, been preparing Jacki Edry for the job of raising differently abled children. But destiny went one step further, by zapping Edry with a massive tumor on her brainstem. Brain surgery and its aftermath gave this first-time author firsthand experience in what it is like to have a brain that fails to function as expected. In short, if Edry had not already been neurodiverse prior to the surgery, something she had suspected might be the case, the surgery ensured that she was so, by affecting her vision, balance, hearing, and more.
As an insider of the neurodiverse world, Edry found herself, more than ever, as someone in a unique position to help parents understand and advocate for their neurodiverse children. Moving Forward is a slim volume, but one packed with insights into the neurodiverse world, and on parenting and educating neurodiverse children. The book is also a chronicle of Edry’s personal struggle with a dire health threat that led to sensory impairment. Finally, the book is an affirmation of faith and positivity by an incredible mother and person. The book led this reviewer to deep personal introspection on parenting and personal adversity, leading to the conclusion that there is always something we can do to move forward with our children and ourselves.
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Moving Forward is a journey between the worlds of autism, neurodiversity, brain surgery recovery, and faith. It provides a rare glimpse into how sensory and neurological processing affect functioning and thought, through the eyes of a professional, parent, and woman who has experienced them firsthand.