Writing has been a means of catharsis for mother of one Melinda Hildebrandt, who found out her daughter Amelia was deaf when she was aged just two.

Amelia was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder two years later, and it was in the midst of countless medical appointments, therapy sessions and doctor’s visits that Melinda began her blog.

“I had banked so many painful feelings and writing somehow made those feelings less sharp and easier to handle,” she said.

In the ensuing three years she amassed some 80,000 words before deciding she should collate her thoughts on parenting and her family’s experiences into a book.

“It’s taken me over a year to take that content and convert it into a professionally edited manuscript ready for publication,” she told

Star Weekly last week following the launch of Amelia & Me, her honest and eloquent memoir.

She describes Amelia, now eight and a student at Furlong Park School for Deaf Children in St Albans, as a feisty, sweet, fun-loving girl despite the things she has endured in her short life.

“She is incredibly strong-willed, and although that makes her a tough customer in the parenting stakes, I think it’s going to help her navigate the world,” Melinda said.

She said the book is for parents who find it hard to express their thoughts about raising a special needs child. “I want to give them hope and courage,” she said. And above all, she said the book is for Amelia, “my inspiration”.

Alexandra Laskie