Reviews of Grown Man Now

Book Foreword by Ann P. Turnbull, EdD
Beach Center on Disability
The University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas

Jane Schulz took the cards she was dealt and played an exquisite hand. She inspires us all to live life with courage, joy and imagination.

I am a long-time veteran in the disability field. Forty seems to be my magic number. My son, JT, who experiences significant disabilities is 40 years old, and I have worked in the disability field, primarily at the university level, for 40 years. I have also known Jane and Billy Schulz for that same number—yes, 40 years. During this time, I have read more family stories than I can even count. So I ask myself, why should reading this book surprise me? Didn’t I know all about Billy’s and Jane’s life already? Haven’t I read what sometimes seems as if every variation on every family story that presents itself in the disability field? The answer is a resounding “no”! In a nutshell, Grown Man Now blew me away!

There were many “ahas”, but for me the major ones centered around Billy’s incredible positive contributions to his family—especially around the role of caretaking. I was awed by Billy’s critical role in his family in lifting the spirits of his grandmother, parents, and siblings, as well as offering real help—especially in the caretaking of his father and grandmother—probably nothing short of truly life-saving for his mother. Many books are available about the life stories of children, youth, and even young adults with intellectual disabilities. Where else can we learn about a 50-year life story? Where else can we gain insight into the family experiences of older adults with disabilities, even those approaching senior citizen years, in terms of the reversals—when the children with disabilities grow up and become the caretakers for their parents and grandparents.

More than anything this powerful book by Jane Schulz, about her amazing son, Billy, reminds me of the infinity symbol. Truly, “what goes around comes around." Through this compelling family story, we learn from Jane and Billy what we all crave in our personal and family lives—loving family bonds that truly withstand the test of time.

The Schulz family—every single one of them—provides keen insights about what it means to be family and how we all, regardless of our different circumstances, have the choice and opportunity to live life to the fullest. In the paraphrased words of William Faulkner, the Schulz family, through their family story of Billy’s life, is a testament to the fact that families who confront the unexpected experience of disability can not only survive, but, indeed, prevail.

David L. Westling, EdD
Adelaide Worth Daniels Distinguished Professor of Special Education
Department of Human Services

Western Carolina University
Cullowhee, NC

This is a story that should be read by all parents who want their children to have stable, happy lives, whether their children have disabilities or do not.

The best life for a person with intellectual disabilities is the same as for anyone else: to be loved and supported by family and friends. The family does not have to be super-human, and the friends do not have to be perfect, they all simply need to care. This is the lesson that Jane Schulz teaches us in Grown Man Now. Billy was born with Down syndrome, but Jane and her family, with a strong sense of fairness and morality, knew that what would be best for Billy would be the same as for everyone else. Now, with a half a century of experience, the results are as we might expect. Billy's life is full and has meaning. What more could anyone want for their child?

Michelle Estes, MD, FAAP
Pediatrician with Holston Medical Group, Kingsport, TN

As a pediatrician and—more importantly—as a mom to a child with Down syndrome, I am grateful to you and your family for paving the way for Madison and our family. Your journey will be a blessing to all those who read it!

Your readers would do well to remember not only how far we have come as a society in how we treat individuals with disabilities, but also how far we have to go. We each have a role to play in that journey.

Nancy Powell Dixon, EdD
Author: Children of Poverty with Handicapping Conditions;
Retired Associate Director, Oklahoma's Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, Oklahoma State University

This book is a wonderful example of a mother’s successful struggle to raise a son, Billy, who has Down’s Syndrome along with three other children.  The author, Dr. Jane Schulz, describes in vivid detail her son’s life from babyhood through adulthood and what she has to do in order to assist Billy to reach his full potential. In addition, Jane discusses other influencing aspects of her life, such as her marriage, her other children, her mother and her career.

It is stimulating to read a book with such real life substance and depth. The author’s wisdom and insight into the needs of Billy and her family is extraordinary.  She goes far beyond the “call of duty” in leading and taking care of her family. As she discusses the difficulties she faced, her deep love for her children cannot be missed.

Jane was Billy’s strongest advocate. She helped him meet his challenges head-on. When one door closed for him, she found another way with the consistent goal of having him live as independently as possible. With her encouragement Billy found his rightful place in the world and is contributing to society rather than taking from it.

I was a colleague of Dr. Schulz’s at Western Carolina University for several years, and we worked closely together in the special education department. I was aware that her life had challenges, but because of her sunny disposition and positive outlook, I had no idea of the depth of her struggles. She always had a smile on her face and a welcoming greeting for everyone. This positive attitude she exuded came through in the book, as well.

She wrote as she lives her life, looking forward with hope and assurance. This book is truly an inspiration and should not be missed by anyone.

Gurney Chambers, PhD
Dean Emeritus College of Education and Allied Professions
Western Carolina University
Cullowhee, NC

Grown Man Now is a poignant and exhilarating story of how a family member with special needs strengthened and promoted the human capacity for love in his parents, brothers, and sister. It is a story of Billy, who was diagnosed with Down syndrome at eighteen months of age, of how he became over a span of more than 50 years a sustaining inspiration to his fellow family members and to others fortunate enough to know him thanks largely to the extraordinary and persistent efforts of his wise and determined mother.

Grown Man Now is a book for all readers because it is a story about universal human values: love, courage, persistence, resilience, hope, family, and yes, humor. It is a demonstration of how tenacious the human spirit can be when the welfare of a family member is at stake and of how powerful a compensating force nurture can be in combating the unfairness of nature.

Above all, Grown Man Now is a story of the difference a mother s unconditional love, a love guided by knowledge and wisdom, made in the life of her special needs child. If only all Down syndrome bearers were so lucky.

It is a beautiful, valuable story, well written, and extraordinarily interesting.

A. Michael Dougherty, PhD
Dean, College of Education and Allied Professions
Western Carolina University
Cullowhee, NC

You'll cry and then you will laugh and then you will cry again. You will meet Billy— a very special man who makes the life of everyone he encounters more special. You won't be able to put this book down— and you will always remember Billy.

Embry Burrus, MCD, CCC/SLP
Author, Mama and Margaret
Assistant Clinical Professor, Department of Communication Disorders
Auburn University
Auburn, AL 

Jane Schulz offers much insight, love and compassion in this detailed account of how her family welcomed and celebrated a child with a disability, not only from her experiences as a parent, but also as a professional in the field of special education. Like my sister Margaret, Billy’s life is an inspiration to everyone who knows him.