Finding Lina: A Mother's Journey form Autism to Hope by Helena Hjalmarsson
“Finding Lina is not only a mother's painfully honest account of coming to terms with her daughter's autism, but an offering of insight and new possibility to parents facing similar situations. This is a story that resonates beyond the specific illness, with a universality both heart-rending and inspiring.” —Dick Russell, New York Times bestselling author
Lina was a precocious toddler—charming, chatty, joyful. At the age of three, in the aftermath of her second MMR vaccine, first came a seizure, and then, to her parents’ horror, the loss of Lina’s ability to play, use language, and control her impulses. Over the next few years they continued to lose Lina. She communicated her acute discomfort by biting, screaming, hitting, laughing maniacally, and throwing violent tantrums. As a single mother, with the help of her ex-husband, Helena Hjalmarsson tirelessly pursued every possible avenue to find a diagnosis, and more importantly a treatment, for her daughter, and the search continues to this day. Lina is nine.
Special schools, restrictive diets, sensory stimulation, relationship-based therapy, gastrointestinal links, homeopathy, and allergy treatment are all explored in detail. Hjalmarsson finds out what helps Lina and what doesn’t. She introduces sign language to Lina. She engages in lengthy daily intensive one-on-one sessions. With the help of her ex, angelic babysitters, Lina’s exceptionally empathetic younger sister, and supportive friends, Hjalmarsson manages to create a meaningful life for Lina, and for herself—a life of love and transcendence.
Lina, for all her challenges, has much to teach, and Hjalmarsson is a receptive student: finding joy in moments of connection, learning to live in the present, taking nothing for granted, accepting what others find unbearable, and finding a strength and spiritual base for inspiration and healing.
Unflinchingly honest and courageous, Finding Lina will open the eyes and hearts and minds of all parents, whether they have a child with autism or not.