In my reading experience, it’s still fairly uncommon to run into characters with special needs, whether they are main or supporting characters. That’s why, when I discover one in a book, it makes my heart happy.
I have a fifteen-year-old son who has severe autism, epilepsy, ADHD, and a speech impairment. So when another author takes the time to paint a realistic view of a special needs individual — including both the challenges and the joys — I appreciate it even more.
I think that’s why I’ve tried to do the same in some of my books, whether we’re talking about special needs that are present from birth or those that result from an incident later in life.
In Marrying Emma, I wrote about a hero who lost his leg in a motorcycle accident and a heroine who has dealt with a congenital heart condition all of her life that eventually led to a heart transplant. While their challenges are very different, they can relate to the worry that others see them as less than whole.
Lynn in Starting Anew has a sister with Down’s syndrome. They were always close growing up until one of Lynn’s life decisions resulted in her parents turning their backs on her. But when her sister becomes an adult and starts to have heart problems, Lynn insists on being a part of her life again.
But I think my favorite character with special needs is Gideon: A little boy with autism who I introduced in Finding Peace, the first book in the Love’s Compass series. As soon as I wrote about him and his single mom, Serenity, I knew that they had to have a story of their own.
I enjoyed giving glimpses into what it’s like to love a child with autism, but it wasn’t until their book, Finding Faith, that I could show this in more detail. I hoped my readers would see how much of a blessing it is to raise a child with special needs, but also understand some of the many challenges that can often feel overwhelming.
The more time they spend together, the harder it is to imagine a future apart.
Single mom Serenity Chandler is determined to do anything to provide better opportunities for her son, Gideon. Moving away from her family support system so Gideon can attend a special school seems like the right choice, even if it means her entire life is about to change.
The satisfaction of helping children and being a part of their lives is one reason Aaron Randall loves his job as a music therapist. When Hope Academy instills a dating policy, he doesn’t give it a second thought. Until the new coworker who’d caught his attention turns out to be the parent of one of his students.
A love they never expected is just out of reach. With Aaron’s job and Gideon’s education hanging in the balance, they’ll have to rely on faith to find their way.
Do you enjoy reading about individuals with special needs? Is there a particular medical condition or situation that you feel ought to be addressed or included in more books? I’d love to hear from you!