- Paperback: 306 pages
- Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (October 26, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1478298340
- ISBN-13: 978-1478298342
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 25 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,071,232 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Loving Andrew: A Fifty-Two-Year Story of Down Syndrome Paperback – October 26, 2012
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From Kirkus Reviews
When the hospital staff delayed bringing Wyllie her firstborn child after his birth in 1959, she was. . uneasy, and rightfully so: Andrew was diagnosed as a mongoloid, or what is now known as. . Down syndrome. Troubled by the doctor’s explanation that “sometimes the best policy is to inform the mother . . . that the child has died and then place him immediately in an institution,” she and her husband decide to keep their son at home and raise him as normally as possible. Wyllie details the early struggles with Andrew, from difficulties nursing to apprehension over what their family, friends and neighbors might think. She recounts their lengthy search for a school program to fit Andrew’s capabilities and their great fortune in finding Lambs Farm, . . where Andrew lived happily for most of his adult life. Wyllie’s writing is lucid and remarkably forthright. She doesn’t shy away from the negatives, such as her frustrations and mistakes as the parent of a special needs child. . . She also conveys the grief she faced in the tragic cancer death of her 14-month-old second child. The book features Andrew’s writing and drawings, letters from his teachers and co-workers, and interviews with many of the people in his life, which provide an intimate look at his intellectual, emotional and physical development. . . Her account of the history and science behind the disorder is thoroughly researched yet highly readable, and she evenhandedly discusses the possible impacts of modern prenatal genetic testing. Of her . . struggle for better resources, Wyllie remembers that “the most difficult task was to capture the interest of the average person who does not have a special needs child.” Transcending this aim, her book is as richly absorbing for casual readers as for caregivers and loved ones of Down syndrome children and adults.
This clear-eyed, intelligent memoir is an invaluable resource for anyone whose life is affected by a developmental disability.
Published in 2012, this book recently won second place in the 2013 nonfiction category of the IndieReader Discovery Awards, giving it the attention it deserved the first time around. Deeply personal, sometimes heartbreaking but ultimately uplifting, this is a love story between author Romy Wyllie and her son Andrew. Much of it is set in Hyde Park, where Andrew starts his life, school and work, and at Lambs Farm in Libertyville, where he was “one of the first residents of (the) new supportive living arrangement opened” at that pioneering and visionary institution, which has been empowering people with developmental disabilities for more than 50 years. There are triumphs and there are tears, and it is a credit to Wyllie’s gifts as a writer that she tells this story without artifice and embellishes it with all manner of important and revelatory tales of society’s changing attitudes about the disabled. Andrew died in 2011. He lives on here. Credit: Rick Kogan, Chicago Tribune Literary Journal, October 6, 2013.
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A LIFE WELL LIVED
Andrew was special in so many ways; not necessarily different, just special. He had Down syndrome, once known as mongolism. His life story is told by his loving mother who refused to “put him away,” as was common practice at that time, and insisted upon making him socially acceptable and included into the mainstream of family, friends, school, and the workplace. Despite the many hardships and deprivations she suffered, she adored Andrew and was always up to the task of thinking up new, innovative ways to have Andrew live as normal a life as possible, given the constraints of his affliction. Andrew not only lived up to his potential, but often exceeded it.
By necessity, Andrew’s mother and father gave him more attention than they gave his sister and brother. Yet, there seemed to be little, if any, resentment because of this.
Although in some ways school and jobs were struggles for Andrew because he was slow to learn new tasks, he managed to surprise everyone by his capabilities along many dimensions. Andrew’s family worked miracles, and they were rewarded many times over in the form of small victories.
This tender story will break your heart. Andrew will make you smile, laugh, cry, cheer him on, and teach you things you never knew before about the mentally disabled. Just as so-called “normal individuals” have different personalities and capabilities, so do those with Down syndrome.
After reading this book, you will never look at a Down syndrome person the same way you may have in the past.
Never have I been captured by a book as I have by Loving Andrew. Andrew, the first of four children born to the Wyllies, had Down syndrome. Contrary to the conventional advice of the doctors, the Wyllies decided to keep him at home and raise him to live as a near normal child. They sacrificed much but were rewarded by Andrew’s accomplishments. He learned to go to school by himself, crossing streets carefully and subsequently rode the city bus to school. Reading, writing, and simple math were among his early progress, as were his neighborhood friends. As he grew and went to special needs classes in high school, he was adept in swimming, running, and horseback riding, winning medals in Special Olympics. His pride in graduating from high school is told by the picture on the book cover where he is dressed in cap and gown and smiling broadly.
At home he was given his "apartment" in the basement where he arranged the furniture to suit his taste. He also made up a set of rules for his younger siblings and his parents on their "visits" to him. Similarly he made up a comprehensive schedule for his daily activities. At age 17, Romy convinced the local supermarket that he could work there in a variety of duties, first behind the scenes arranging produce and stocking shelves. Later he had a supermarket job where he bagged for customers. He was prompt, listened to his supervisor, and proud of his performance.
As I read, I found myself taking parental pride in each of his steps, and held my breath when he stumbled.
It was when he was 20 that the Wyllies felt he needed greater independence and sent him to live at Lambs Farms, a community dedicated to the developmentally disabled, where he was quite independent. He also worked regularly at a nearby supermarket where he built good relationships with his supervisors and they made longstanding friendships with him. It was there that he wrote touching but slightly misspelled letters to his parents first in Chicago and later when they moved to California.
He also fell in love with Lael Arnold, a young lady with Downs whom he knew from his elementary school days. They wanted to marry, thus causing concerns for both their parents. Andrew and Lael exchanged rings and spent much time together but never married. Andrew also had a serous interest in religion and took pride in carrying the cross as an acolyte.
It was inevitable that Andrew would ultimately decline, first from mental health problems, and then from Alzheimer’s, a common fate of Downs adults. His funeral was as moving to me as if he were my son, I cried.
Most recent customer reviews
Loving Andrew is an intelligent, informative and deeply felt book—filled with personal insight, in which Romy Wylie lovingly details what it...Read more
Andrew was given every advantage by this amazing family: special teachers, summer camp,...Read more