By Emily Hill
“I think kids are generally afraid to see someone in a wheelchair,” Rick O’Brien said as he sat next to his 11-year-old son Connor who is wheelchair-bound with cerebral palsy.
In August 2006 O’Brien had an experience that quickly changed his life as he sat next to his son in a church pew on a Sunday. As O’Brien read a book to Connor, a little boy looked over their shoulders.
“I think after a while his parents called him back to sit down in the pew. All of a sudden I felt a tap on my shoulder. I looked around fully expecting to see the little kid trying to look over again, and there was no one there,” O’Brien said.
“I looked up and I said, ‘OK, I’m listening right now. You have my attention.'”
O’Brien felt called to write books about special needs, or “differently-abled” kids. In October 2007 the family moved to Mobile from Savannah, Georgia, and the creation of the books began.
“I sit down at the computer in the back bedroom and I literally say, ‘God I’m ready to write, let’s go,'” O’Brien said.
“CJ and the Angel Kids” are a series of mystery books involving five kids: CJ with cerebral palsy, Dee Dee with Down syndrome, Andy with autism, Stu with dyslexia and Rosie with stuttering.
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