Braydon burst into laughter. Today was his tenth birthday. He couldn’t stop smiling. Memories of his last birthday party had faded a long time ago. He had been four years old. He’d loved dinosaurs and was an only child then.
Every year he was given a different, yet equally lame, excuse. His parents claimed they were too poor, too busy, or too something. Brayden knew the truth—all they cared about was Katie.
Brayden’s little sister, Katie, was five years old and had Down syndrome. His parents’ lives revolved around Katie. Last year, they actually forgot it was his birthday, until he reminded them at bedtime. They promised to make it up to him.
-Excerpt from Monster-Shark, my contribution to the Perceptions Anthology: Special Needs by Inklings Publishing, a collection of stories for educators, teachers, and students that include characters with special needs.
I’m honored to be included in this anthology. Growing up with a brother with Asperger’s Syndrome (years before this form of autism had an official name), I wanted to write a story representing kids who feel unnoticed because the special needs of their brother or sister take up much of their parents’ attention, time, and money.
I also interviewed a friend of mine, the mother of a sweet boy named Enzo, who has Cri du Chat syndrome and she told me, with tears in her eyes, about what often happens when Enzo plays with other children in restaurant play areas. They always make him “it” and run away from him, screaming. He has fun, but it breaks her heart. Then I interviewed some kids under twelve and asked them about what games they could think of to play that would include kids with special conditions like Enzo’s.
Monster-Shark was the result.