“For the Love of Melissa” takes us into the home and hearts of the Shlanger family as they raise Melissa; their daughter with autism. Written by Rhonda Ellen Shlanger (Melissa’s mother, with some help from other family members and Melissa herself), the book is a tale of struggle and perseverance, as a loving family works to pull their daughter back into their world, while she slowly slips into her own.
Shlanger’s writing is both inspiring and touching; although most importantly, it’s a book that everyone can find something in. She doesn’t dwell on what might have caused her daughter’s autism or point any fingers. Shlanger instead focuses on the day to day highs and lows.
After Melissa was born, the Shlanger’s began to notice small differences between her and her older brother, Jeff. They found that Melissa seemed to be detached from the environment she was in, and wouldn’t pick up on things like her parents leaving the room. She was unable to connect with her older brother, and found many every day things overly stressful.
Shlanger recalls that Melissa could not stand the sound of the toilet flushing or running water. She describes Melissa’s talking patterns as a “broken record playing in her head.” When they initially reached out to professionals about Melissa’s condition, they were told that her symptoms were nothing to worry about.
“For The Love of Melissa” takes us through a series of dilemmas, such as finding the appropriate educational setting for her child. She describes the difficulty of finding the right place and then having to transition Melissa to public school, which presents an environment that was opposite to that of her previous school.
Shlanger describes a frustrating moment with a speech and language pathologist who gives an unprofessional description of Melissa’s speech. Afterwards, she comes to a realization about what Melissa has given to them.
She explains that Melissa has taught them what mattered in life: to appreciate every little step.
For more information and how to purchase a copy of “For The Love of Melissa”, please visit http://www.fortheloveofmelissa.com/.