Different

Different: The Story of an Outside-The-Box Kid and the Mom Who Loved HimDifferent: The Story of an Outside-The-Box Kid and the Mom Who Loved Him by Sally Clarkson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When my second-born child was three, she suddenly came to an awareness of the end of daylight savings time. Before daylight savings time ended, her father would come home from work before dark every night. For the next three months after daylight savings time ended, every single night, when her Daddy wasn’t home by dark, she would pace from window to window looking for his car, knowing that something horrible had happened to him.

When she was five, she ended up sitting in the hall during Bible study as part of our Bible study group’s response to a tornado warning. She was so traumatized that she still prays each night that we won’t have any bad storms come through our area. She sleeps with the radio on, and if she is ever awakened by a warning on the radio, she comes to wake me up so that I can tell her if the warning was for our area.

I could tell you so many other stories about my dealings with my “different” child that you would sometimes laugh and sometimes cry. However, to preserve her privacy, I will not. Let’s just suffice to say that dealing with a child who suffers from anxiety and perhaps a mild form of OCD can sometimes be exhausting. (And I don’t even need an official set of letters at this point to know that she’s different, but not at a place where she’s clinically in need of help–at least not at the moment.)

That’s why I was so delighted to be able to read Sally and Nathan Clarkson’s book “Different.” In this book, the Clarksons team together to share stories (from both of their perspectives) of what it is like to live with OCD and what it is like to raise a child who is OCD, ADHD and has a few learning disabilities to boot. (My different child has also been one who has bloomed very slowly in her academics.)

As a mom, I found myself relating to Clarkson’s exhaustion, to her struggle to understand, and to her feelings that she has blown it more than she has succeeded in dealing with her child. I appreciated seeing how she was able to enjoy Nathan, but how she often needed a break to reset herself so that she could have the stamina to mother in a manner that was building up instead of tearing down. These are struggles that any mom goes through, but they can be intensified in a child who is not easy to deal with.

I think any mom of children who might be wired a little differently than average (and all children have their quirks!!) would find Clarkson’s perspective to be valuable. She often writes from a place of telling what works, and she doesn’t dwell on what didn’t work, and that is something that I find encouraging. I also found that, after reading her perspective, I also have more peace on the idea of whether therapy or medication might be appropriate and when it might be appropriate in the life of someone who is struggling. That’s the kind of advice that I really found to be so helpful.

I also found myself truly enjoying hearing Nathan’s perspective on the stories. I found how often things that would be so frustrating to deal with or that a parent wants a child to just “snap out of” would be something that he couldn’t control. I have more sympathy for what my child deals with after reading the incidents written in the book from his side of the story. I am grateful that he was willing to share his perspective.

All in all, I found this to be a very helpful read. All children have their quirks and their difficulties, so I think that most moms would find this book affirming and reassuring. However, it’s a lifeline for those parents who are wanting to love “different” children better and trying to help them to be the people that God has called them to be.

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