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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Guest Post - Don't Let It Get You Down Syndrome

Dad, and author, Steve Dinning has written a book about his son who has Down syndrome and autism - Don't Let It Get You Down Syndrome. This books differs from other memoirs in that it deals with that dual diagnosis (I'm not aware of another memoir that deals with both diagnosis).

While I have not finished the book yet I am quite enjoying Steve's story telling as he is sharing his story and experiences through humor. When you're a parent sometimes all you can do is laugh and find the humor in the things your children do.

I asked Steve if he would write a guest post for my blog for 31 for 21. Here is what he wants you to know about his book:
"I am the dad of a 14 year old boy called Jamie, who has both Down Syndrome and Autistic Spectrum Disorder.  He is in next room to me right now as I type this guest blog post.  He is supposed to be going to sleep but I can hear him banging on the radiator with a Buzz Lightyear doll.  I suspect the neighbors can hear him too.  

I love blogs like Big Blueberry Eyes, where you can see that the authors love their children, and are so happy to have them. I am sure they serve a good purpose helping young parents come to terms with Down Syndrome.  I am fairly new to blogging; I have always loved to write, but at the time when Jamie was born, blogging was, like Jamie, in its infancy.  The idea of blogging about being Jamie’s dad did not really occur to me, and the whole thing rather passed me by.  I have always felt though that I have a story to tell, and so I have written a book - Don't Let It Get You Down Syndrome.  (Now on sale in paperback)

It is a comic memoir, not a misery memoir.

Jamie is not a typical child with Down Syndrome.  Perhaps it is because of his additional autism, or perhaps it is because of terrible parenting decisions we made in the early years, but his behavior has always been extreme, infuriating, exhausting, and hilarious. By the way, I am kidding when I blame it on the parenting decisions - it is definitely the autism.

For years now, whenever I have told my friends and work colleagues about Jamie’s latest misdemeanor, they always laughed.  And there are only so many times that you can hear people say “You should write a book about Jamie” before you eventually yell at them “All right! If I promise to do it will you stop going on about it?”

Highlights of Jamie's first decade or so are covered by my book, and include anecdotes that I like to refer to as:
  • The Body In The Library
  • The Prisoner
  • Crack Problem
  • Down By Law
  • Vintage Pornography
  • Heere's Jamie
Okay I have just read those back and I have to admit, the anecdote titles are not at all funny.  They make it sound like the book is a horror story, or at the very least, a crime story.  Well it isn't.  (Perhaps it is a little, but mainly not).  It's an upbeat comedy with a central character you will never forget.  Is it too late for me to work on those anecdote titles?

I am sure that seeing the funny side of the situation was probably a good coping mechanism for me.  More than anything though, I just did not want to write a misery memoir.  I could so easily have done it – I could have changed the tone of the book and focused on all the bad things that have happened – but I chose not to.  Only time will tell whether or not that was a sound financial decision; misery memoirs do seem to sell very well indeed, and if I only sell half a dozen copies of my book I will know that I made the wrong call in terms of appealing to a mass market.  However, it would not have been right for me.  I have really enjoyed writing Don't Let It Get You Down Syndrome, and I hope you will validate my decision to go for a comedy by checking it out.

From now on, whenever Jamie does something unspeakably naughty, I will be able to tell myself “Look on the bright side.  This will be an excellent anecdote for the sequel.”

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1 comment:

Sabrina Steyling said...

Well I have to say, Steve - and Jamie - definitely intrigue me! I love Steve's humorous style of writing already, so I think that I'm most definitely going to have to check out his book!