Book Review: A Place Where I Belong

By Manuele Teofilo

Staci's book: A Place Where I Belong, is on a wooden table beside a hot cup of tea

If you’re looking for an informative and insightful book on neurodiversity, then A Place Where I Belong by Staci McLean is for you. She is an author, a speaker and the mother of a neurodivergent child. McLean is also the founder and director of The Neurocollective NZ, creating places where we ALL belong through advocacy, education and support to individuals, parents, organisations and churches regarding neurodiversity and inclusion. 

McLean’s extensive collection of stories reveals the trauma many families and individuals experience in Christian communities. She provides examples of what can trigger and cause stress for neurodiverse people. The book also gives insights into experiences from the perspective of a neurodivergent child. Facts and statistics about neurodiversity are interwoven into the book. The confronting stories McLean shares are to help churches understand and be encouraged to make changes and to implement the suggestions in this book. In the final chapters, McLean highlights some initiatives in New Zealand that are providing spaces for neurodivergent individuals and their families to be loved and supported.  

Mclean has put a significant amount of work into her research for this eye-opening book. I believe the statistics McLean presents alone should prompt Christian communities to consider how to better support a fifth of Aotearoa’s population. I thought the way Mclean wanted to hear and include stories of other families with similar experiences to her own is honourable. By including the vulnerable stories she heard in discussion groups she held around Aotearoa and sharing her own story, brings witness to the challenges they experience.  

I know the challenges of living with a physical disability, but learning about the anxiety and stress that someone who is neurodivergent and their families face daily is a reality even I can’t fathom. I appreciate how McLean also states the definitions of neurodiverse terms and neurodiversity itself. Her book clearly identifies the conditions and attributes that are considered to be part of neurodiversity. All the different aspects of McLean’s book helped me grasp a deep understanding of the complications and challenges of a neurodivergent life. 

Whether you’re a pastor of a church, a youth group leader or involved in children’s ministry, you will find something useful and relevant in this book. McLean’s book also touches on tips that cross-over with general disability etiquette, so if you don’t know anything about neurodivergence or disability this book is a great starting point. Frankly, even for us who have a passion and are working to increase disability inclusion in the church will learn a thing or two.  


Posted in conjunction with Neurodiversity Celebration Week 2024

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