Please join me in welcoming Karla Akins to the blog today to talk about her book, A Pair of Miracles!
Karla Akins is the mother of five, including twin sons with autism. She has a bachelor’s in special education from Western Governors University and a doctorate in Christian education from Kingsway Theological Seminary. She has nearly four decades of teaching experience in homeschooling, private school and public education.
Akins has also served in ministry for more than 30 years and is co-minister at Christian Fellowship Church in North Manchester, Indiana, with her husband, Eddie. She is also a popular speaker at conferences and retreats.
In addition to A Pair of Miracles: A Story of Autism, Faith, and Determined Parenting, Akins is the author of four other books. Her first novel, The Pastor’s Wife Wears Biker Boots, featured a homeschool mom and a child with autism.
Akins enjoys riding her motorcycle, sipping chai lattes and snuggling with her three dogs and two cats
Her book, A Pair of Miracles, released in July 2017 from Kregel Publications
When Karla Akins hoped that her autistic sons could learn to read and function independently, doctors warned her that those expectations would never be met. She set out to prove that, despite those warnings, all things are possible through God.
Laced with humor and compassion, A Pair of Miracles is the heartwarming story of her journey rearing adopted twin sons, each diagnosed with autism and fetal alcohol disorder. This is more than a moving biography from a mom on the front lines, however. It is a powerful tool, full of practical help for parents, educators, and church members working with children who have intellectual disabilities, speech impairments, and other limitations on the autism spectrum. It is also a challenge to the church to welcome and celebrate all the members of their congregation, no matter their abilities.
Thanks to Karla’s determination, faith, and unconditional love–and contrary to the doctors’ predictions–her adult twins are now able to function independently in many ways. They help their dad install pools, do carpentry work, and serve in the church as ushers, sound engineers, and children’s ministry workers.
For parents seeking hope, answers, and peace, Karla leads the way to all three down a path she’s already been.
Hi Karla! Welcome to the blog!
Karla: Bananas. Because they’re easier to peel and yummier.
Carrie: hahaha! Fair enough 🙂
Karla: Winter. I love snow!
Carrie: Yay! A fellow snow-fan!!
Karla: That’s a tough one because I have both. I would say dogs for friendship, cats for comfort.
Carrie: That’s an interesting distinction! Although… my dog would never tolerate a c-a-t in the house lol.
Karla: Tea. I love tea. I have never preferred coffee over tea. Tea is comforting. I’m into comfort.
Carrie: Comfort is good 🙂
Q: Around here I like to say that reading is my superpower. If YOU had a superpower, what would it be?
Karla: Understanding and empathizing with people. I am forever perplexed that I understand people much better than they understand me. Which is ironic seeing as I understand people really well except for this point.
Q: When you walk into a bookstore, where do you head first?
Karla: I always head to the journaling section. I love notebooks, journals and pens. I have drawers full of them and still don’t get enough. Same with books. It seems the more I give away the more I accumulate!
Carrie: I am exactly the same way. We won’t talk about how many still-mostly-empty journals and cute notebooks I have accumulated…
Q: Writing spaces are as diverse as authors and books. Where is your favorite space to write?
Karla: My favorite space to write is in an easy chair with my feet up, the fireplace crackling while it snows outside. I have a chai latte at my side, and I’m buried under my cats and dogs. Piles of books surround me both for research and for pleasure. For some reason, I feel safest and most content surrounded by books. And cats. And dogs.
Carrie: You are basically describing my happy place right there! Well… except for the cats. And could we substitute hot chocolate instead of the chai latte? 😀
Q: Why write about autism? Why is that important to you?
Karla: Autism is extremely important because it’s on the rise. When I was growing up, I didn’t know anyone with autism. Now the statistics are staggering with one in 68 children and one in 42 boys having the diagnosis according to the CDC.
Q: What is something that surprised you the most while researching A Pair of Miracles?
Karla: I think the most surprising thing was how prevalent autism is and yet how very isolated families living with autism feel. We are still so behind in the United States providing the proper support for families. And the public schools are in the dark ages for the most part. They simply don’t meet these students’ needs appropriately.
Carrie: That’s so sad. And really unnecessary. You should be supporting these children & their families better.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your family. How many children do you have, and how did your family come together?
Karla: I have one step-daughter, two biological sons and two adopted sons. We had struggled with infertility and came to foster parenting because of our desire to have another child.
Prior to adopting the twins, we had two foster children who were adopted by other families. It was after a foster baby we had from birth to almost 11 months old and was given to an adoptive family (the agency we were with would not allow foster parents who already had children to adopt) that God gave us the opportunity to be foster parents to the twins.
Our social worker (who knew we wanted to adopt) called, and we had about 30 minutes to decide whether or not to say yes. I knew I’d never be able to let them go, so I sensed this decision was an adoptive decision, not just a foster-parenting decision.
The twins were preemies, and Isaiah came home from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit first. A month later Isaac came home, and the adventure began!
Carrie: You are an amazing family ♥
Q: How old were the boys when they were diagnosed with autism? How much did you know about autism before their diagnosis?
The twins were four years old when they were diagnosed, but I knew something was wrong years before the official diagnosis. Not only were they a textbook case of FASD, but they are of autism as well. It’s important to remember that autism can have co-morbid diagnoses. In other words, having autism doesn’t mean you can’t have other diagnoses as well. Did the FASD cause the autism? We have no way of knowing.
When the boys received their autism diagnosis, the only thing I knew about autism was from the movie Rain Man, which means I knew nothing! Plus, autism is different in every individual.
In 1997-98, the only thing I had was a rickety old IBM computer someone had given me. It barely worked and was one of those with the green screen, but I used it to hook up to AOL. (I can still hear that dial-up sound in my ears!) Once online, I connected with an amazing crew of mamas and grandmas who also had children with autism. It was those women who led me to resources. I have to tell you, we were on the cutting edge of research in those days, but as far as early intervention was concerned, it was very difficult to get anyone to listen to us regarding what our children needed to have to succeed. It was very, very hard to get people’s attention. If it weren’t for those women, I don’t know how I’d have survived those early years. They were a lifeline.
Carrie: God is so good to connect us to community, even if we never meet in person. And even through a rickety IBM computer and dial-up AOL 🙂
Q: Who will benefit from reading your new book, A Pair of Miracles: A Story of Autism, Faith, and Determined Parenting?
Karla: I hope families and caregivers will be encouraged by reading about our journey and might gain a few ideas on how to work with their child. I also hope they will feel like they’re not alone in the struggle. I know I like to read books that validate what I’m feeling. It’s always good to know you’re not the only one in the trenches, fighting the good fight of day-to-day survival with autism.
I’ve included a generous section on how to work with your child. These include ideas that worked for us but also some evidence-based interventions proven to work for a lot of children with autism. Since I’m also a special-education teacher, I hope the book will help educators understand what families deal with. I’ve sat on both sides of the IEP table. I know the stress of advocating for what’s in the best interest of my child, but I also know how it feels to be an educator. Educators and parents need to work as a team, and the book gives great tips on how to do so.
Carrie: It sounds like a great & encouraging resource for weary and scared parents!
Q: What do you most want readers to take away from A Pair of Miracles?
Karla: God is up to something good. Even when it doesn’t feel like it. Even when it doesn’t look like it. He is working on our behalf. And eventually, we will see that good He has worked on for us and continues to work for our good.
Thank you so much for taking time to talk with me! 🙂 Before we say goodbye for today, tell us what‘s coming up next for you.
Karla: I have a YA historical novel being shopped around by my agent, River Moon Don’t Cry, set during the time of the Trail of Tears. And I’m currently writing a steampunk trilogy for middle grades and working on another memoir.
What about you? What interests you about Karla and/or her book?