Stross and Joy Necom A Forest City woman is sharing her experience as a mother of a special needs child – hoping it will help other parents of children with disabilities.

Joy Newcom wrote and self-published a book focusing on her struggles, and her husband’s struggles, during the first five years of raising a son with spina bifida and other birth defects.

“There are a lot of internal conflicts that happen when you realize that your own life is going to be vastly different than than what you could have ever imagined,” Newcom said. “So, I found myself writing about it and the experience was a little bit of a catharsis, but more of a call out to other people to say ‘hey, if you’ve ever wondered what this is like, read this book.'”

Newcom’s son, Stross, is now 17-years-old. The book is entitled “ Involuntary Joy: A Story of Unexpected Rebirth .” Newcom says she remembers looking at people with disabilities in a way that shortchanged them. That was before she gave birth to Stross.

“The minute he was born, I had this fierce protectiveness that…I didn’t want anybody in the world to shortchange my son. So, therefore, I had to ask myself, ‘how dare I have ever done that to anybody else,'” Newcom said. Newcom says Stross may be disabled, but has unique abilities.

“He lives everyday with this infectious smile and a deep sense of wonder at being alive,” Newcom said. “That has served him well and it’s served us well. We keep returning to those moments of joy and say ‘it’s great to be him.'”

Newcom will sign copies of and read excerpts from her 400-page memoir at Beaverdale Books in Des Moines on Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m. She will also attend a workshop for parents of children with disabilities at 9:30 a.m. at the Meredith Drive Reformed Church in Des Moines. Newcom is a public relations consultant and teacher at Waldorf College in Forest City.