Life Not Typical by Jennifer Shaw, as reviewed in The Phantom Tollbooth. Perfect is over-rated. True perfection is found through trials like these.

Jennifer Shaw is a budding worship music writer and recording artist with a promising career. A Top 40 Billboard artist with a #3 worship song on the national radio charts and degrees in piano performance and vocal performance from the prestigeous Manhattan School of Music, her autobiographical Life Not Typical: How Special Needs Parenting Changed My Faith and My Song recounts the story behind her beautiful voice and warm smile. Her career took off amidst all-consuming family and parenting issues that should've never allowed it to get off the ground.

Her story is one of discovery. The discovery that a voice trained to opera has a lot to learn about leading worship and recording its creations. The discovery that a perfect family life can instantly change with the birth of a third child. The discovery that life can be well ended through learning from her father's lend with Lou Gehrig disease. The discovery of a mysterious syndrome known as Sensory Processing Disorder and what it takes for a family to help a little one cope with such a diagnosis. The discovery that ministry is still possible in a VERY untypical life, and God has provisions to meet His followers needs in all their discoveries.

The book focuses on the period of the Shaw's life surrounding their youngest child, Toby, who was such a frightening mystery to everyone. Why did he cry when drops of water touched his skin? Why would he love to be outdoors some days and hate it on others? Would he ever eat anything besides Cheerios? A diagnosis and outstanding early childhood education--miraculously procured--begin the very, very long road toward real progress.

Life Not Typical delves deeply into the day-by-day, week-by-week process necessary to help Toby cope with everything the world throws at him, things most of us take for granted such as the wind on our skin, the feel of wearing different shoes and various types of clothing, the various sensations of food in our mouths. Interwoven is a very unlikely shift in a musical career from opera and organ to contemporary worship, the tragedy of her father's too-soon passing, family balance with such overshadowing issues and everything else that makes up the life of a new millennium woman.

While not a how-to manual for parents of Sensory Processing Disorder-diagnosed children, this book offers real encouragement for anyone whose very young child is behaving in distressing, inexplicable ways to persist in finding answers and solutions to these perplexing situations through medical, social, and spiritual avenues. Fans of Mrs. Shaw's music will also appreciate the insight into her life she offers so transparently. And anyone who appreciates a good telling of a formerly perfect family weathering what life throws at us all by God's grace will find this a good read.