EAGLE, Idaho — Heather Davis of Eagle recently wrote a children's book inspired by her 28-year-old son Justin. He has developmental disabilities, and it's called "Into Justin's World". It showcases his magical view of the world we all live in.
Justin suffered brain damage and was removed from a severely abusive home when he was just a little boy. He was happily taken in by the Davis family as a foster child when he was just six. Heather has been proud to be his devoted mom ever since.
"Justin is a 28-year-old man who interacts with the world like a 4-year-old. He's a miracle, it's amazing that he's able to walk and talk and do all the things that he can do," said Heather Davis, Justin's mom.
Over 22 years since his adoption, he is now the oldest of the eight Davis children. He's surrounded by love and brothers and sisters! But being the oldest hasn't always been easy for Justin. He wants to do all the things they do.
"He's the oldest of my eight kids, and for example, he's had to watch all the seven younger siblings learn to drive, and that was so hard for him." said Davis, "He'd say, 'mom, my legs are big like yours, I want to learn to drive!'"
Throughout Justin's life, Davis has always come up with ways to make him feel included, and independent. She even found a way to get him a set of wheels!
"I got some really good suggestions," said Davis. "One of them was to try the scooters that people have mobility issues will use to scoot around. So, we tried it and he's awesome! He's so good on it and he loves it and he calls it his motorcycle."
The Davis family celebrates all the small victories, but it hasn't always been an easy road.
"As he's gotten older, I'd say starting in middle school, it's gotten harder for people to understand his challenges, and to be as compassionate as I know they would be if they understood," Davis told us. "Justin thinks everyone is his friend and has such a neat way of looking at the world."
When the pandemic began, it was tough for Justin to get out and be social. The things he normally liked to do, were shut down. Many special needs families in our community had the same struggles.
"He's not a good social distancer, so we figured out we could take him to the beautiful Boise greenbelt for long walks with the family," said Heather.
Justin has sensory issues, so the walks weren't always enjoyable if it was too hot, too cold, rainy, or too windy. But, on one of those walks, something special happened along the river, and Justin started looking forward to the Greenbelt adventures.
"This huge fish came swimming on the surface just as close as he could get. Justin just sat there and talked to this fish for like fifteen minutes," said Heather in disbelief. "I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it myself! As we were leaving, Justin told me about all the things he would do with this new fish friend. He would swim with the fish, and go and talk to the frogs and see the birds. He wants to be the brave boy that can jump in the water and swim with the fish, but the sensory stuff is so hard for him, so he can do it in his imagination."
Davis is a writer, and Justin's encounter with that fish inspired her to write a book about his magical world. She just recently published it. It's called "Into Justin's World", and it's filled with colorful illustrations and adventures.
"I wanted to tell it from Justin's point of view, I felt like that was really important that it wasn't me telling his story, but it was him telling his story. Usually, when you see a story about children with developmental disabilities, it's about that disability or how to overcome it, I didn't want this to be that. I wanted it to be a story that had someone like my son having a fun magical experience," said Davis. "It shows him, who he is, the challenges that he has, but then it also shows this beauty and magic that he sees in the world that the rest of us don't see."
To get the book out to families like hers, Heather started a Kickstarter Campaign.
"Kickstarter is like a preorder, and the purpose is to get the word out, but also get the funds to print it."
Davis was blown away by the support. She met her goal of raising over 5-thousand dollars! The book can now be purchased at the Idaho History Museum, Barnes and Noble, as well as Amazon. 20% of the proceeds will go to Idaho's Camp Rainbow Gold, to build an accessible playground for kids with cancer and their families.
"The Boise community has really responded and supported me," said Davis, "The reason I did it is because I feel so strongly that this is a story that needs to be out there. Kids who have challenges like my son can actually see themselves in a storybook."
For more information on the book, you can go to Heather Davis' website.
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