Finding Strength in Faith
is the story of a moderately autistic young man navigating life with a spiritual intelligence that runs further than most people can walk. Written by Paul's mother, this insightful memoir gives readers a unique look at the challenges and joys of raising her autistic son in a large Catholic family.
The first of six children, Paul's early years were an exciting and confusing time for his parents. At the time, very little information on autism and its early signs was available, and the fact that the disorder is a spectrum ranging from mild to severe was not widely known.
Unpredictable outbursts and sensitivities to light and schedule disruptions lead Paul's parents to refer to his condition as "The Marauder." The Marauder sweeps over the hospital nursery as the fluorescent lights blind Paul's eyes. The Marauder throws his black cape over the Christmas holidays, stealing four-year-old Paul's speech for three long days. In school, The Marauder keeps other students at bay, leaving Paul isolated and alone. Finally a developmental assessment gives some clarity to the exhausted family: Paul is on the autism spectrum, and they will all have to adjust their perspectives. Small victories emerge as Paul begins to reach developmental milestones in creative ways. Six years of piano lessons lead to a dramatic improvement in reading skills. A jaunt through the mountains with his father introduces Paul to his talent for running; with his brothers, he joins the high school cross country running team, which goes on to win the state championship. After high school, Paul works for the family business and attends college.
Throughout this intimate memoir, every day is a challenge to be met with creative thinking, patience, and faith. Paul finds comfort in contemplative prayer and the support of his family when the world around him becomes too chaotic. As her son grows up, Susan Anderson learns how to cope with autism and embrace the importance of faith in the things unseen. Her family's experience is a beacon of light for those who find themselves on a similar path.
A Mothers Account of Raising an Autistic Son
By Susan Anderson
20 March 2018
5.50 x 8.25in.
About the author
Susan Anderson is a wife and mother of six children. She and her husband run Cactus Game Design, Inc., publishing Christian and Bible-inspired board games. She is a monthly contributor for CatholicMom.com and frequently guest writes for her hometown newspaper, The Clay County Progress. She lives in western North Carolina.
“Susan Anderson’s writing is like a breath of fresh air. Her descriptions of her son and his autism are so real and powerful, I feel as though I’m standing next to her in the room. I highly recommend this book for anyone who would like insight into the world of raising a special-needs child.” —Carrie Cariello, author of What Color Is Monday and Someone I’m with Has Autism
“Any parent who has been handed an unexpected trial will appreciate this honest, vivid, and inspiring tale of raising an autistic son. There is heartbreak and frustration but also triumph and hope, as Susan and Rob find the strength through their faith to offer their son unqualified love.” —Philip Gerard, professor of creative writing at University of North Carolina at Wilmington and author of The Patron Saint of Dreams and Down the Wild Cape Fear
“Paul’s Prayers is a peek into one mother’s journey alongside a very special son. Author Susan Anderson’s writing is honest, poignant, and mind-opening as she reminds each of us to cherish our relationships as we move along our everyday path to God’s love.” —Lisa M. Hendey, founder of CatholicMom.com and author of The Grace of Yes
“Many of us are gifted with loved ones who think and see the world in different ways. Susan Anderson’s book about her autistic son, Paul, is a highly readable, moving, human, and sometimes humorous account of the joys, trials, and challenges of raising an atypical child. As all good parents do—for all of our children—Susan and her husband Rob struggled to help their son navigate this complex world and grow to be the man God wants him to be. A wonderful book, both for those whose lives are touched by atypical thinkers and those who want to understand them better.” —Arthur Powers, co-founder and vice president of the Catholic Writers Guild and author of The Book of Jotham
“Paul’s Prayers could just as fittingly be entitled ‘Paul’s Song.’ In lyrical prose, author Susan Anderson portrays her adult son Paul, who is challenged with autism. Her story is at once a heartbreaking ballad of his lifelong struggles and an anthem in praise of his heroic fortitude. Though the narrative is focused on Paul, in the telling of the tale, his mother’s remarkable strength and wisdom are revealed as well—an inspiration for us all.” —Paul Thigpen, editor for TAN Books (Charlotte, NC) and author of The Burden and A Dictionary of Quotes from the Saints