Loving Andrew

A Fifty-Two-Year Story of Down Syndrome

Non-Fiction - Memoir
306 Pages
Reviewed on 09/01/2013
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Romy Wyllie is the author of two books on architecture: "Caltech’s Architectural Heritage: From Spanish Tile to Modern Stone" (Balcony Press, 2000), and "Bertram Goodhue: His Life and Residential Architecture" (W. W. Norton, 2007).

Her latest book "Loving Andrew: a Fifty-Two-Year Story of Down Syndrome" (CreateSpace, 2012), received second place in the non-fiction category of the IndieReader Discovery Awards announced at the Book Expo in New York City on June 1, 2013. Since then "Loving Andrew" has received the following awards: March 2014 Beverly Hills Book Awards - Finalist in Parenting and Family; May 2014 Eric Hoffer Award program - Honorable Mention in Memoir and Finalist for the Montaigne Medal and Grand Prize; May 2014 National Indie Excellence Awards - Finalist in Parenting and Family; September 2014 Readers' Favorite - Honorable Mention in Parenting. Excerpts from Loving Andrew have been previously published as opinion pieces in national newspapers.

Wyllie is an Honorary Alumna of Caltech, where she is Director of a volunteer architectural tour service. She has an MA in English and History from the University of St. Andrews, Scotland (1955), and diplomas in business and secretarial practices, and interior design.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Lit Amri for Readers' Favorite

In Loving Andrew, Romy Wyllie tells the story of her Down syndrome son, Andrew James Wyllie, and also stories about Lindsay Yeager and Blair Rodriguez; both with the same condition. It is not only about how Romy and her family face the challenges of raising a Down syndrome child, but the joy and life lessons that he bestowed upon them.

I never knew that a person with Down syndrome could be affected by mental illness, such as paranoid schizophrenia in Andrew’s case. This revelation is quite a surprise for me due to my lack of knowledge in this matter. Reading about the public and the medical community’s reception in the late fifties towards Down syndrome is informative; I’m glad that society is more knowledgeable about Down syndrome although the lack of understanding regarding the disabled people still lingers today.

My mother is a retired nurse for almost 15 years now, and I clearly remembered what she said about Down syndrome children, “It is sad that their life span is shorter than us.” I’m glad to know that Andrew lived until he was fifty-two, although it was hard to read about his decline from a high-functioning man with Down syndrome, to a man who had to battle paranoid schizophrenia and Alzheimer's in his last years.

I truly appreciate that Romy Wyllie shares her story about Andrew with the rest of the world. Loving Andrew is an eloquently written book and definitely a helpful guide as well as inspiration for everyone, especially parents with disabled children.

Romy Wyllie for Jacky Gil

Here are excerpts from a review of LOVING ANDREW for the US Review of Books. It does a great job covering all aspects of the book:

Loving Andrew: A Fifty-Two-Year Story of Down Syndrome
by Romy Wyllie

reviewed by Jacky Gilchrist

"...Andrew touched the lives of many, helping them in his special way become better people."
In today's world of Individualized Education Programs, Individualized Family Service Plans, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, it can be unfathomable to imagine a time in which babies born with disabilities were routinely separated from their parents. Yet, a mere five decades ago, it was commonplace. Often, mothers were not even told that their babies had survived the delivery. Instead of reconnecting mother and child, the doctors would whisk the child away to an institution, where he would live a grim existence and would often be sterilized against his will. Andrew Wyllie, the subject of this book, would have suffered the same fate had it not been for the love, determination, and perseverance of his parents.

Today, parents in the U.S. have access to a comprehensive support system to guide them in raising a child with a disability. While it is by no means flawless, Wyllie and other parents in her position would have considered it a godsend in the 1960's and beyond. . . Thanks to their tenacity, however, Andrew did have his own homemade therapy program. . .

Drawing on a collection decades in the making of letters, notebooks, and other source materials, Wyllie's book encompasses the whole of Andrew's remarkable life. . .
Later in her book, Wyllie touches on the particular difficulties of puberty in children with Down syndrome, and shows her pride in Andy as he thrives in high school and with his first forays into employment. Unfortunately, Andrew's personal successes throughout his life did not prevent his later diagnosis of schizophrenia nor his passing after his diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease.

Like parenting itself, Wyllie's book is a labor of love, characterized by admirable resolve and insightful socio-familial analysis. She unflinchingly explores her own early emotions toward raising a child with Down syndrome . . . While the challenges . . . cannot be overstated, Wyllie's narrative also depicts the incredible rewards of parenting and the immeasurable love of a child.

This heartwarming story goes beyond the scope of a typical biography. Wyllie interjects keen historical insight along the way. . .Throughout the course of her writing, she goes on to describe how public acceptance of differences slowly began to change with initiatives from the Kennedy White House, grassroots efforts from an "army of parents" across the country who sought to form a national organization, and finally in 1975 the establishment of a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) for all children with the passing of the Education for All Handicapped Children law.

Wyllie isn't only a family biographer; she is a social historian who isn't afraid to offer her own analysis and criticism as needed. Her delightfully detailed book opens a door to another world—a world that often exists right in front of the average person without his realizing it. As the book winds down following the poignant recounting of Andrew's death, Wyllie discusses the lasting impact her son had on so many lives. In loving Andrew and refusing to give him up, Wyllie found a resilient inner peace, a "greater sense of humanity," and a "different outlook on the measure of success."