Living with Jonathan: Lessons in Love, Life and Autism
Sheila Barton's memoir of autism is inspiring. Finding herself, at thirty years old, with a son with autism and severe learning disabilities, she set about learning how to live a different kind of life and be a different kind of mother. This is the story, told with passion, intelligence and humour, of their journey from darkness into light. It is written out of anguish and anger, but also out of hope and love. The book opens and closes with a real-life snapshot: the first from when Jonathan was nine, the second from when he was twenty-three. The first is told from the edge of despair. The second is upbeat - the day is one of happiness for Jonny and for his mother. Autism has been integrated into their world - they have survived it. The chapters in between tell the amazing story of their life together and how they dealt with diagnosis, birth, school, brothers and sisters, travel, therapies, obsessions, grief and sex. Sheila writes movingly of the heartbreak and the joy, the terror and the liberation. Her son is now in his late twenties and she and Jonny began their journey into this strange and difficult world when understanding of autism was very poor. Today, autism is diagnosed more often and attracts more media attention than ever before. This is the story of the triumph of hope and love over pain and sadness. It is a compelling manifesto for greater understanding of those who are born 'different'. Its ending is one of empowerment and joy. 'This is a book we all should read. A remarkable human story, a remarkable piece of writing.' - Jon Snow, journalist and broadcaster 'I loved this book. Vivid and lively writing draws a picture of the ups and downs of family life with a child with autism. The overwhelming love she feels for her children and her spirited responses to setbacks are a joy.' - Clare Coombe-Tennant, trustee of TreeHouse
Sheila Barton has worked as a teacher and lecturer as well as a senior manager in various national charities. She has been on the executive council of the National Autistic Society and is an experienced public speaker. Sheila has taken part in TV and live radio interviews on autism. Her many articles have appeared in the Guardian, the Observer and the Times Educational Supplement and elsewhere. She and her son have been featured in Take a Break, the Bath Chronicle and Communication (the magazine of the National Autistic Society).