Marin, a mother of five, wanted to combine her knowledge of occupational therapy with what she has learned through raising a son with special needs, whom the book’s main character, Aiden Walsh, is loosely based on.
The author takes readers through Aiden’s journey as the “new kid” with autism at school as he overcomes the physical, emotional and social challenges he faces through the art of ballroom dancing. Marin said that she learned a lot about herself as a parent while writing this book, and thinks it will be a great read for children in grades three through six and their parents.
“As I wrote about Aiden’s mom, I found that I was guilty of the same thing she was doing — being so overprotective and sheltering him from situations where I wasn’t sure he would be successful,” she said. “But I found that if you set them up for success, like my son with ballroom dancing, they will be successful.”
As for the children reading this book in the classroom, there are many lessons to be learned through Aiden’s journey. Marin said that the majority of children these days have peers with special needs in their classes, so Aiden is a character they can really relate to.
“This book is a good teaching tool because it goes beyond the basics teachers are expected to convey about anti-bullying laws and it gets inside the heads of kids with special needs without getting too personal,” she said.
Marin also mentioned that important lessons like tolerability and acceptance are main themes in “Aiden’s Waltz.”
“This book teaches readers that kids with special needs really are just like every other kid out there and they are just as deserving of the chances that every ‘normal’ child has,” she said. “They deserve the same respect and opportunities and should be seen not for their disabilities, but all of their many abilities.”
Children will also be drawn to the book for its illustrations, all of which Marin did herself by tracing photos of her own kids. She said that the pictures come to life because readers are not looking at cartoon characters.
Marin’s timing of writing this book is poignant because of situations her son is going through for the first time at the age of 10.
She said that this was the first year that other kids really understood what her son’s needs were.
“Kids know it’s wrong to bully and harass, but some may not know what it feels like to be hurt and get inside the head of a child with special needs,” she said. “In this book, you get a sense of how Aiden feels and what emotions he is going through so it is really very touching.”
A “Meet and Greet the Author” event is planned for June 4 at 4 p.m. at the Pearl River Public Library. For more information about the book and local author appearances, visit http://www.aiden swaltz.com or email aidens waltz@gmail. com.