Cowboy & Wills: A Love Story is a delightful memoir about a boy and his dog. What makes it special is that the boy in this story, Wills, is autistic. Cowboy comes into his life when he is in kindergarten and helps him become so much more independent. With Cowboy as a companion, he became more open to new people, places and things.
The story begins before Cowboy enters their lives. Written by Wills' mom, the story takes us through the process of selecting a kindergarten and trying to arrange things so as to cause her son the smallest amount of distress possible. We read about rejection letters and parental fears. We read of hope and an understanding schools. We follow Wills as he masters what are, for him, big steps like using the boys bathroom, and enjoying a bath. We smile when Cowboy joins the family, and cry when we learn that she is ill.
As the mother of an autistic son, I could relate to much of what the author, Monica Holloway, shared about her son--he didn't like jeans, couldn't stand tags and hated loud noises. As any mother of an autistic child can tell you, autistic kids each have their own strengths, weaknesses and eccentricities. In some ways a group of autistic kids probably don't share many more characteristics than a group of neuro-typical kids do--some are smart and do well in school; others don't. Some are verbal, others aren't. In other ways, yes, I can relate to what she said about Wills because I have been there and done that. I'd love to read an update to this book ten years from now when Wills is ready to graduate from high school. I'm looking at that next year, and I'm both hopeful and scared. I think my son feels the same way.