Book Reviews

The Spiritual Art of Raising Children with Disabilities

Spring 2014
"In this valuable book, Kathleen Deyer Bolduc becomes your compassionate but clear-eyed companion, sharing her personal experience and perspective, as well as those of others. She explains how, with God's help, people just like you have been able to address the challenges of disability. It is practical, spirit-filled wisdom."
Mark I. Pinsky
Amazing Gifts: Stories of Faith, Disability, and Inclusion

Autism and Alleluias

Judson Press announced that Autism and Alleluias was a finalist for the Foreward 2010 Book of the Year, in the Family & Relationships category. Autism & Alleluias has received endorsements from Jean Vanier of L'Arche Communities, Bill Gaventa, editor of the Journal of Religion, Disability and Health, and Ginny Thornburgh of the American Association of People with Disabilities.

Fellow parents have also praised and identified with author Kathy Bolduc's honest and heartfelt account of life with an autistic child.

For more information, click here.

"Kathy Bolduc invites us into the concrete, messy, detailed, and often colorful experiences of life with Joel, her son with autism. She shares her stories, and then lets us see the ways her questions, faith, hopes, and, finally, love, left her open to finding and seeing God in the places, events, and relationships where she, and we the readers, might least expect." -- Bill Gaventa, MDiv, Editor, Journal of Religion, Disability and Health

"Story by story, Kathy Bolduc leads us through the plunging despair and soaring joy that will resonate with others who have the awesome responsibility of raising a child with significant developmental challenges. Her stories, interspersed with prayers and poems, are instructive at a deep level. She does not presume to provide recipes for conquering the constant challenges of daily life. Instead, she provides us with her deeply personal journal as a mother of a son with autism. We learn, with her, that by drawing on the deep wellsprings of faith, laments transform to alleluias." --Diana Garland, Ph.D., Dean, Baylor School of Social Work

"Kathy Bolduc masterfully weaves together her stories of living life with her son Joel while holding the hand of her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The challenges, joys, and learning that have filled her life because of Joel's presence are artfully presented in a way that will inform and encourage the reader. I see this book not only as a valuable resource for family members living with autism, but a necessary part of our church libraries as we all learn to better understand and include our brothers and sisters in Christ." --Barbara J. Newman, CLC Network church consultant, and author of Autism and Your Church
"Grounded by her faith, Kathy Bolduc engages important matters all too often avoided -- from accepting Joel's distinctly un-Presbyterian worship style to appreciating his sexual identity as a young man. It's a candid book about a Christian response to those devalued by the larger world. Belonging is rooted in listening and understanding; it's not about "fixing," or finding a missing piece of the puzzle." --Milton Tyree, Consultant, Presbyterians for Disability Concerns

"Kathy is a guiding light to us in how to walk through this world with faith that God's peace and blessings do endure despite life's struggles and challenges. Parents and caregivers will find a spiritual connection and divine treasures in reading Autism and Alleluias." --Jackie Marquette, educator, author, and parent of adult son with autism

"Kathy Deyer Bolduc offers a moving and inspiring account of life with Joel. She is courageous and honest in sharing the love and anger provoked by life with a severely autistic son. Kathy shares with us the reality of Joel's surprising giftedness and her reliance upon the love of Jesus for her and for Joel." --Jean Vanier, founder, L'Arche Communities

• • •

His Name is Joel: Searching for God in a Son’s Disability

Kathleen Bolduc lets us into sacred and vulnerable space in her life, her struggles and joys as parent, mother, and wife, and her wrestling with God. (This book) is not overly pious. She does not play martyr or saint. She does not pretend to be a model for others. She does not try to explain it all and certainly does not pretend to be in control.

What she does do is arrange eight years of transforming moments and memories into a series of vignettes, each paired at the beginning with a scripture quotation (most from the Psalms) and ending with a short meditative prayer that seeks to integrate the passage of scripture and the “living passage” of that particular experience or event. Henry Fosdick said that a preacher should have the Bible in one hand and the New York Times in another. Kathleen Bolduc holds her life, and her family’s life, in one hand, a Bible in the other, and shares with us the sometimes clashing, sometimes confirming, often revealing process of bringing the Story into focus with her story. It reads and feels very real, very honest, very unpretentious, and thus, very holy – just as she, in fact, would say she learned to “read” her son.

Bill Gaventa, M. Div.
Director of Community and Congregational Supports at eh Elizabeth M. Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities. Co-editor, Journal of Religion, Disability and Health

• • •

“I wish everyone could read this book! It is a work of art, a timeless meditation, a wise insight, a deep sigh, a fresh breeze, a good chuckle, and a healing therapy, all rolled into one. In 127 pages, easy-to-read-in-5-minute pieces, Ms. Bolduc gives an honest, straightforward tour through the inner and outer experience of a parent whose child has a disability. This is no sugarcoated piety, or politically correct propaganda. Instead, it is a rich taste from the banquet of life, seasoned with the bitter as well as the sweet, and in the end, extremely satisfying.

Ministers, therapists, counselors, teachers, neighbors, and others who know a family with a child who has a disability will be gently moved and powerfully inspired by the lessons taught here. They will gain a renewed appreciation for the many simple, but deeply meaningful ways that they can support and help families through their struggles. Professionals and friends will be surprised and energized by the realization they already possess the skills they need to help, if only they will listen, be open, and befriend. I would consider this a “must read” for anyone with any motivation to walk in faith with persons who have disabilities and their families. You’ll be so glad you did!”

Reverend Sarah Eastes, Director of Training and Public Education Council for Retarded Citizens, Louisville, KY. Author of Agenda for Real Life.

A Place Called Acceptance: Ministry with Families of Children with Disabilities

“Families of children with disabilities have a deep need for compassion and acceptance, as well as for practical assistance, from their church families.” So writes Kathleen Deyer Bolduc in the introduction to this useful book. A mother of a son with “multiple handicapping conditions,” Bolduc has assembled timely information geared toward helping congregations become more welcoming, accepting, and supportive of children with disabilities and their families.
Practical and tightly written, the book includes musings on disability and theology, a look at the “wasteland of grief,” explanations of how disability impacts the family, and steps for making a congregation into “a place called acceptance.” One appendix lists resources while the other addresses the tough topic of “general disability etiquette.” Many of the handouts can be photocopied for group study use. A Place Called Acceptance helps congregations minister to a segment of our population not often reached. It does so by giving practical advice and encouraging congregations to see that these families want what every other member wants – meaningful worship, spiritual
growth, fellowship, and acceptance.”

Congregational Resource Guide: Resources for Congregations

The photograph of Joel and Kathy is courtesy of The Cincinnati Enquirer.