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Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Readers' Favorite
Part memoir, part parenting book, Capable: A Story of Triumph for Children the World has Judged as "Different", by Deborah Winking, Ph.D., is a powerfully moving testament to what is possible for children with special needs. This book is based on the author's true story, from the beginning of her child Jack's life through adulthood. The challenges in motherhood were life-changing for both of them, and the frankness with which Winking writes will be appreciated by audiences, especially parents of special needs children. Each mom is different, of course, and approaches parenthood in their own unique way, but this mother's story has the benefit of hindsight, experience as a psychologist, child advocate, and a Ph.D. The crux of her message is one we all need to hear: That you reap what you sow, you get what you expect, and when you expect more, more happens.
Frustrated by the dire diagnosis that her son Jack couldn't do this and couldn't do that, the author turned the tables and began acting and reacting from the stance of what he could do. It takes someone special to meet the needs of a special needs child, but to go beyond that and expect more, is a gift and talent that not every parent has. Yet, all parents can learn from Winking's experience and expertise. This book can perhaps help parents of special needs children instill a sense of ability rather than disability, a can-do attitude instead of cannot. This isn't to gloss over how hard it is to raise a special needs child or to say that there won't be difficulties. It's to focus on what is possible, what is expected, and what can be achieved beyond predictions. But there is a measure of smiles and laughter too in this book, which makes it well-balanced and easy to read. There are many things to take away from the author's story, but one that stays with me is that the future of a special needs child can be a lot brighter than what you think, and the way the author points out how Jack's teacher "simplified" a children's story instead of sharing the richer, more detailed version with her young class. Overall, this story is full of light and life. As a former social worker, I highly recommend Capable, by Deborah Winking, Ph.D., for parents, book clubs, helping professionals, and support groups.