Maura Weis speaks from the heart in Miles from the Sideline: A Mother's Journey With Her Special Needs Daughter, a true tale overflowing with authentic stories, compassionate moments and candor about the emotional and spiritual journey of raising a special needs child. The book’s intention, per author Maura Weis, is to “prepare, preserve and encourage you.”
At two-and-a half years old, Weis’s daughter Hannah began acting different and was diagnosed with autism; however, she was subsequently classified as having persuasive development disorder, a generic term used to summarize a spectrum of disorders. Weis shares “Odd behavior sends a shiver of fear through me. The bottom drops out from under me and I am helpless, coming to terms that something is physically wrong with Hannah.”
Weis does an extraordinary job of engaging the reader. Be prepared for teary moments, full of thoughts plagued by a mother’s guilt and disappointment but highlighted with genuineness and hope. “I crawled in, looking for a place to hide where my grief and longing and tormented fury and confusion wouldn’t have room to find me.”
The reader feels empathy for a mother’s commitment to guarantee the best quality of life for her daughter. “Maura has always been the soul of the family,” states head Notre Dame football coach Charlie Weis (Maura’s husband). Preservation of family life, marriage and sharing knowledge with those near and dear to special needs children serve as the foundation for this author.
Hannah is now twelve and must deal with numerous limitations. Nonetheless, Hannah, is depicted by her mother, as a brave soul gifted with the spirit of God and worthy of miraculous love. Maura Weis offers beautiful advice: “So the next time you see a mother or father engaged with a special needs child, offer a kind word, provide a hand, and share a simple smile.” A striking narrative depicts a child who has the purity of an angel, created to teach the world patience, love and understanding.
Miles from the Sideline is a noteworthy read for parents and a must-read for anyone who has the gift of a special needs child in their family. Maura Weis is co-founder of the non-profit organization Hannah & Friends, started in 2003 to honor Hannah and all people with special needs. With funding from Hannah & Friends, Charlie and Maura Weis hope to build a thirty-acre plot of land in South Bend, Indiana, as a residential community for adults with special needs.