With his grandmother’s help, a Blackman High student is sharing a little of his life’s story to inspire and educate younger kids about their peers with special needs.
Ryan Tidwell, 15, is the subject of a book written by his grandmother, Beth M. Brock. Ryan was born with spina bifida.
The book, published last year, is titled, “My Name is Ryan: I am Just Like You, But Different”, and is for readers ages 3-13, but is inspiring people of all ages, his grandmother said.
They held one book signing last year, and their second one earlier this month at Linebaugh Public Library.
Amanda Davis is one mother who bought an autographed book at Linebaugh. She said the book was for her special-needs son who is 7 and is becoming aware of his surroundings, so it is ideal.
“It’s hard to find books written for special-needs kids,” Davis said. “It’s mostly textbooks.”
Brock said she agreed, and added that other such books include those written for adults, not kids.
Brock’s website, bethmbrock.com, says, “My Name Is Ryan is the story of a very special boy with lots of issues. He is normal in so many ways, but is also disabled in so many ways. He knows he is different, but he is the happiest little guy you would want to know.”
The website also says, “Ryan’s story is so unique to our family that it needed to be told, if only to let other families know that they are not alone, and others are living their life.”
Ryan has experienced “about every complication you can have,” Brock said, from his brain stem being decompressed to losing the ability to swallow to being on a ventilator to not being able to walk. He is hard to understand when he talks, requires constant care and has a nurse attending him at school.
Ryan uses a powered wheelchair at home, but it cannot fit in the family car, so he uses a regular wheelchair at school, his grandmother said.
“But, he’s a pretty happy” young man, and a normal teenager in many ways, Brock said. He loves to play with his iPad, PlayStation 3 and Wii. He loves to control the television remote. He watches YouTube and is a John Cena wrestling fan.”
Ryan also, for a reason unknown to his family since they have no connections to Louisiana State University, loves that school’s Tigers, Brock said. His room is adorned in purple and gold.
“He’s pretty opinionated most of the time, but he’s really sweet,” she said.
Brock said the book came about because when Ryan was younger and the family and his nurse took him to the bookstore or coffee shop, he would sit there and people would stare.
“It just hit me one day I needed to get his message out there,” she said.
She wrote most of the book and set it aside until a couple of years ago. Since it is hard for an unknown writer to get published, she said she chose self-publishing through La Vergne-based Ingram Content Group’s brand, IngramSpark. The self-publishing program allows for tiers of services and helped her with the cover design and interior illustration.
“Ryan loves this book and he is proud of this book, so I have accomplished what I set out to do,” Brock said.
Ryan’s book is available at Barnes & Noble in Murfreesboro, online at barnesandnoble.com, or on Amazon in print or in the Kindle format.