book review by Katie Munday (they/ them)
Written by Jacki Edry, Moving Forward looks to enlighten parents, professionals, and family members with personal insights on neurodivergence.
Jacki Edry is a graduate of Hampshire College and has been exploring the world of neurodiversity for over thirty-five years. She is a survivor of complex brain surgery and a parent of neurodivergent children. She has spent many years advocating for inclusion programs in the educational system within Israel, as well as providing support for Disabled children and their families.
Moving Forward is an auto-biographical account of raising Neurodivergent children and surviving complex brain surgery all the while becoming closer with God and her Jewish faith. The book is split into five parts; Autism and neurodiversity; Sensory perception and processing; Brain surgery, faith and healing; Regeneration and recovery; and Navigating new pathways.
The first two parts are a reflection on Jacki’s Neurodivergent children, their journey to diagnosis and support within school. Of particular interest was her children being misdiagnosed with ADHD. After many years of research and advocacy, both children were re-diagnosed with Irlen Syndrome, a visual processing difference in which the eyesight is considered typical but the processing of visual stimulus is not. This story acts an example of how the first (and easiest?) answers and diagnosis, are not always accurate. Jacki herself was then diagnosed with Irlen Syndrome and the children were diagnosed as Autistic.
Jacki gives some good advice for families of people who are newly diagnosed, my favourite of which “one of the most important things you will need to do after receiving a diagnosis is to take a deep breath. Take some time to digest the news. […] I suggest you leave the ‘why’ behind and focus on doing your best to support each other and to investigate your next steps together.” (page. 24). Jacki appreciates that there can be some extreme feelings after confirmation of neurological differences and that the first move is to let it sink in.
The second half of Moving Forward reflects on Jacki’s experience of surviving complex brain surgery. She shares excerpts from her personal diary, where she reflects on how her sensorial changes have given her more insight in to her children’s sensory processing differences. Jacki also explores how she solidified her Jewish faith whilst in recovery. I feel dispersing the diary entries throughout the stories of her children’s burgeoning Neurodivergence would have made Jacki’s reflections stronger still.
Moving Forward is an intimate account of one women’s experience of brain surgery, parenting neurodivergent children, and living in God’s light. Jacki shares her intersecting experience of disability and neurodivergence, parenthood and healing, and those who read it are all the better for it.
[Person first and identity first language are used throughout this book, as are words such as ‘impairment’ and ‘problems’. These may be a translation issue as they do not fit with the overall feel of the book.]