Nonfiction Book Award Status: Gold
Raising four lively children is an adventure for any family, and Team Shepler is no exception. Their hectic routine of swim practices, homework squabbles, music lessons, and endless laundry may seem ordinary at first, but appearances can be deceiving. And magic can be found in the extraordinary.
Sebastian, the youngest, made Team Shepler complete. But his diagnosis of the rare AUTS2 Syndrome was their admission pass into a secret world–a clandestine reality where monsters stalk, joy must be embraced in the immediate present, and the smallest of triumphs are zealously celebrated.
Although families with special needs all face similar challenges, membership within their exclusive population often leads to an overwhelming sense of isolation. Exacerbating this difficult reality, well-intentioned efforts to “blend in” often mute opportunities for the outside community to consider our secret world. Empathy requires understanding. Kindness demands awareness. And neither are feasible without knowledge.
So please accept Team Shepler’s invitation to spend three remarkable unremarkable days glimpsing behind the curtain that families on special needs journeys often feel required to draw.
In second grade, Amanda Shepler declared her intention to make a career as a writer. When she grew up, she did just that. Now one of the nation’s top-ranking grant writers, her words have secured tens of millions of dollars to support high-impact programming for schools, tribes, hospitals, colleges, and nonprofit agencies across America.
Amanda lives in Western New York with her family and is honored to be able to share their story.