It all started with the horrible nickname given to my husband at a young age:
For years he hid the shame and hurt inflicted by this name. He poked fun at himself and his idiosyncrasies before anyone else could. He downplayed his differences and pretended that he was just like everybody else.
But then something changed. We had a child and then another and we knew they might experience similar persecution. This acceptance of name-calling and feeling inadequate, or even worse, feeling like there was something wrong with you, was not ok. Hiding one’s differences or not acknowledging them just didn’t feel right anymore. It felt like we were letting the bullies win.
And we were not about to let the bullies win.
We came up with three simple words that would change the path of our lives forever:
I am Spaz.
This simple acknowledgement birthed a new way of thinking. If the bullies and naysayers of the world were going to call you a name, what if you embraced it rather than shied away from it? What if you said, “You’re right. I am Spaz. Look at all the wonderful things about me that make me, me.” What if you were suddenly proud of who you are instead of ashamed?
We wrote Spaz: The True Story of My Life With ADHD, a mix of anecdotes of my husband’s life and information/educational text about growing up with severe ADHD. Writing this meant that Leigh would be forced to relive some pretty horrific events from his childhood. He wavered temporarily. Did he really want to put himself out there like this? It did not take long for him to realize that the answer was “YES!” Yes! He did because Yes! It needed to be done. The stories needed to be told and the people needed to be educated. If for no other reason than we did not want another little boy or girl to grow up and feel like he felt.
The book was released in September 2017, right around Leigh’s forty-fourth birthday. Although it has not become a best seller (yet?!), the overwhelmingly positive feedback we have received has been incredible. People have claimed that it gave them clarity into their child/spouse/parent/student’s minds. They said they gained new understanding and compassion for others, even those without ADHD. People said they finally felt accepted, normal, loved, understood, and different…in a good way. Many readers have quietly shared their own childhood torments and said that Spaz made them truly realize that they are not alone.
It was the heartbreaking stories of people’s children, or of their own young lives, that really made us continue to push forward with the mantra “I am Spaz”. We knew we needed to reach a younger generation and/or the parents of kids who were young. We needed to reach the elementary ages. We needed to reach the kids who are just like Spaz as well as the kids who wanted so desperately to make fun of the Spazes of the world. We had to reach kids who were so young that they didn’t know how to bully yet. And, believe me, this would be hard because bullies learn to bully from birth. So we had to write something that parents could read with those children. We had to but we didn’t know how to.
We set about to write a children’s book, I Am Spaz, even though we had no idea how to write a children’s book or how to get one illustrated or published. However, the text was finished almost as soon as it was started! Our intentions were clear and concise. It seemed so simple: Your unique qualities are what make you, you. And you are perfect the way you are…yes, even if you are Spaz. We were fortunate that AuthorHouse let us use their publishing services again. We were even more fortunate to find an extremely talented thirteen-year-old girl who came back with conceptual art that blew us away.
We sent Selva Boyrie a picture of Leigh as a child and she created “Young Spaz”. His sweet innocence won us over and we knew his story needed to be told.
In I Am Spaz our hero is an outcast. He is made fun of by his peers because he isn’t like them. Although he does not tell us that he has Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, many of his character traits are unique to ADHD. In a short style appropriate for elementary school-aged children, Spaz ultimately learns that his unique characteristics have a positive flip-side. He learns to accept, and even embrace, the things that make him different. He can then freely and unashamedly say “I am Spaz“.
As the book hits the shelves, we know that it could change lives. Will yours be one of them?
To order I Am Spaz now from Amazon click here.
To order from AuthorHouse click here.
If you still need your copy of Spaz: The True Story of My Life With ADHD it is currently on sale for just $0.99 for Kindle here or Nook here or on iBooks. Or you can purchase the hard copy from Amazon, AuthorHouse, or directly from us to get a personalized copy. Just click here:
“Spaz: The True Story of My Life With ADHD”
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