It is often difficult to explain to a young child why he or she is "different" than others. A child with Asperger's or other emotional problems knows there is a difference, yet can't figure out why--and if it is okay. Kim Hix has written a book that helps parents explain to their children that "Yes, it is okay to be different!" This book is easy to read and understand-and fills a much-needed gap in today's book market. As I read the book, No One is Perfect and YOU are a Great Kid, I felt all the emotion involved in trying to explain to a child with Asperger's how okay it is to be himself. I give this book seven colors on the Rainbow Scale of Excellence.
I was fortunate enough to be able to talk with Kim about her book and writing. Please enjoy our conversation:
What three words do you think describe you as a human being?
determined, dependable, caring
How do you think others would describe you?
the same, add in fitness fanatic.
Please tell us what you are most passionate about outside of writing.
Well that would have to be the topic of pediatric mental health, the stigma associated with that as well as adult mental health issues. Trying to get others to see that illness of the brain does not make the person bad, evil or "crazy". I am also a fitness nut, always have been and hope I always will be. I work as a part time personal trainer, (along with another part time job (16 hours) a week as a Patient and Family Liaison for the Greenville Hospital System. )I teach a fitness and nutrition class for adolescents, which is what I love.
Do you have any pets? If so, introduce us to them.
Oh yes, we have Maxine, Zacks girl, acute white mix breed. Then there is Cruz, my husbands black Cocker Spaniel, his fathers day gift several years ago. Then our daughter Kelsie got her own puppy two years ago, Poncho a sweet, funny mix breed also. They rule the home.
What is your most precious memory?
Wow, there are so many, that is a hard one. I guess one that sticks with me recently was during an IEP meeting at Zack's school, it was very stressful as they had not yet realized the depth of his poor emotional control, and were seeing him as a behavior problem, rather than a kid with very poor impulse and emotional control. Anyway, he came into the meeting towards the end and saw I had been upset, he walked over to me in front of about 8 teachers, the principal, special education coordinator and he hugged me, held my hand, kissed me and said "mom, it's going to be ok"....oh, be still my heart. I think the tissue came out for all of them at that point.
What is your most embarrassing memory?
too many to count !! Maybe when I got married. My husband and I married in Charleston in a historic home with the winding staircase, so I was upstairs with my dad and maid of honor talking, laughing and cutting up, so much so that I did not hear the wedding song start and missed my queue to come downstairs to meet my awaiting husband !!! Uh, oh, mom had to yell (gently) for me upstairs and say it was time to get moving, the song had to start over and thankfully I did not tumble down that winding staircase.
If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing with your life?
Well this story has been my only book, so I do not consider myself really as a writer, especially as a profession. This was a gift to Zack, which encouraged us to hopefully help other children, like him feel some comfort in knowing they do not suffer alone if they feel different for any reason.
In two paragraphs or less write your obituary
Kim Hix left this world to continue laughing and loving with her family and friends waiting for her above. She enjoyed life, the outdoors, beautiful flowers and most of all her family. Husband, Doug, devoted, loving and always hilarious. Son, Zack, loving, compassionate, determined and always ready to provide a hug and kiss. Daughter, Kelsie, beautiful, sweet, moms girl. Kim enjoyed her friends and her work,she was passionate about everything she did and never believed in giving up. Faith, love, hope were her favorite words, she believed and lived each one of them to the fullest.
Her friends always teased that if they ever needed someone to help them fight for a cause she would be the first one they would call. A true compliment. Kim would say in her final words to enjoy and appreciate each day, hug your kids as much as you can, look for the good in people and be kind to everyone you meet, believe in your gut instinct and yourself.Faith, love, hope.
Can you describe the time you realized you were indeed a "real" writer?
still waiting !!
What is going on with your writing these days?
I am on a standstill for now, thinking about the next project.
What are your future goals for your writing?
I want to do another children's book from a siblings point of view living with a brother or sister with a disability. I already have the title in my head, but haven't started the book yet.
Can you describe a typical writing day for you?
It is not something I wake up and get started on. This story just came to me rather quickly and I just jotted down the storyline. I am amazed how people can sit and write novel after novel, what a wonderful gift.
Why do you write?
I feel like I can express myself better with the hope that the words can reach someone else who may find a relationship with the character.
What writer most inspires you? Why?
Max Lucado. I love his deep thinking, his inspiration and teachings.
How do you define your writing?
truthful, honest, thought provoking.
In one sentence—what do you want people to say about your writing in fifty years?
She helped thousands of children feel better about themselves, she offered hope and acceptance.
Can you tell us where to find more information on you? Website? Blog?
this is just a small web site I did, hopefully I get get something more sophisticated up soon. But I think this gives all the important information that I want to get out there.
Is there a place where readers can reach you?
I love feedback and questions.
Can you list all your book titles so people can look for them?
That is easy, only one, No One is Perfect and You are a Great Kid.,
For new readers—what can they expect when they read your book(s)?
Hopefully they will feel emotional, love, compassion, acceptance.
I also would like the book to open up dialogue for those reading it, it will pose questions that can encourage conversation, hopefully from the children reading or hearing the story.
Take as much space as necessary to speak to our readers—what would you like them to know about you and your writing?
Faith, love and hope– words I heard all of my life but really did not feel the true meaning of such simple words until my son was born nearly 14 years ago. They are my motto every day and words I often express to others. When loving a child with a disability of any kind they are words you cling to and believe in.
My son suffers from emotional disabilities, or neuropsychiatric disorders or mental illness, however you choose to label what he lives with on a daily basis. He, and millions of other children are diagnosed with illnesses of the brain that affect how they feel, act, react, behave and think. These are complicated illnesses, the same as the adult versions, however just at a much earlier age.
My son, Zack, has always overreacted to the most minor of situations, raging often, crying frequently and riding a daily roller coaster ride of emotions. From very early on I knew something was wrong, which started this journey that is now 11 years long and prompted our book No One is Perfect and YOU are a Great Kid.
As he grew, suffered and tried desperately to understand what was happening to him he struggled with many questions of “Why?” along with feeling as if he were the only kid in the whole world who was struggling with these very complicated challenges.
I have often been called the parent who did not discipline my child, who raised a spoiled, manipulative, self centered, unruly boy, which are all very far from accurate. If you are a parent of a “high spirited, intense child” as I am, you have most likely heard some of the same accusations from parents of “perfect” children who do no wrong, who respond to their parents every command on queue, and perfectly behaved and well mannered.
My hope and prayer is that the people in general open their minds and come to realize that children like mine, who suffer with these illnesses, are not bad kids, not evil or purposefully oppositional but are lovable, kind, funny, smart and full of promise as is every other child. Yes,they may do things differently, loudly, extremely,and outrageously. They need to be given understanding, reassurance, patience, acceptance and compassion.
My wish is that other children who feel different for any reason find hope, promise, acceptance and the gift that is within them and realize they are not alone. Mental illness is not a choice, it is not contagious, it does not make you “less than.” I hope our story will open the lines of communication for parents and children, friends and neighbors to discuss and explore behavior they may not understand. My biggest hope is that children who are seeking acceptance,understanding and answers be able to find that from parents, peers.