Kimberly and Ryan Reeves
Kimberly Reeves is no author, she says, she just sat down one day and started writing her and her son Ryan’s story. Skip forward a year and a half, and Reeves is exactly what she says she’s not; a published author. In June 2018, Kimberly and Ryan released their co-authored book, “Raising Ryan: Living with Autism,” the story of their first 18 years together. The book tells the sometimes humorous, sometimes heart-wrenching, and overall hopeful story of Reeves raising her autistic son. Outside her role as mom, Reeves has lived in Bellingham for 28 years after transplanting from Atlanta and teaches anatomy and physiology and nutrition at Whatcom Community College.
HOW DID YOU DECIDE TO WRITE A BOOK?
I started writing in December 2016 during Ryan’s senior year of high school, around the time a lot of my peers were taking their kids on college visits and taking prom pictures. I had tried so hard to get Ryan to that place, but he just wasn’t there yet. I don’t know why I chose to write. I just sat down and started writing the story of my child, but it had never occurred to me to publish a book. It wasn’t until two or three people seriously told me that I should make the story into a book that I considered publishing.
WHAT WAS YOUR WRITING PROCESS?
I don’t really have a process the way authors do. First of all, I had to ask Ryan if it was OK with him. He read everything I wrote and was glad to be a part of the writing process. Every bit of the book was formatted by my kid.
WHAT WAS YOUR GOAL FOR THE BOOK?
I wanted to write the book with three audiences in mind. First, parents with newly diagnosed children to let them know that they aren’t alone and give them resources. Second, to special-education teachers to help them understand what home life is like and how that can make parents seem completely stressed. And third, to the general public to build more understanding about autism. Every book we sell or that gets borrowed means the world has that much more of an understanding of autism.WHAT WAS THE HARDEST PART OF WRITING?Going back in my memory to a point in time that was so hard for us. Ryan lost his dad when he was four and elementary [school] was really hard on him.
WHAT WAS THE BEST PART OF WRITING?
Being able to document 18 years of my child’s life was really incredible. Looking back on how far he has come gave me so much hope.
HOW HAS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH RYAN CHANGED?
Do you remember when you realized your parents were people too? I think this experience gave Ryan that realization. He could see what my experiences were like parenting him rather than just how he had felt. He actually said to me at some point, “I realize that it must have been hard to parent me.” I think that self-reflection gave us the ability to have some deep conversations.
WHAT IS RYAN UP TO NOW?
He is in his second year of Bellingham School District Community Transitions program [special education program that serves students up to age 21 in developing skills for adulthood]. He is 19, he wants his space and independence. When he can tolerate me, we like to travel, hike and bike together.
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