Embracing Love One Book at a Time
Assistant Professor of Chemistry by day and children’s novelist by night, Dr. Richard O’Brien works with his “differently-abled” son, Connor, to change the stigma related to approaching children with disabilities—one adventure at a time.
O’Brien’s first book, “CJ and the Angel Kids: The Case of the Missing Cookies,” illustrates how interacting with special needs children does not have to be awkward or uncomfortable. The main character “CJ” has cerebral palsy like Connor, and the other characters also have various special abilities such as Down Syndrome, autism, dyslexia and stuttering.
Now working with co-author Andrea Pointer, a certified and licensed Speech Language Pathologist and co-founder of Kids Kount Therapy Services, O’Brien has created the five “Angel Kids” who work together to solve mysteries and educate others on current topics youths face in everyday life such as bullying, obesity, dyslexia, autism, adoption and disabilities.
The books take place at Camp Adventure, and the stories are derived from real life experiences relating to O’Brien’s family. The “Angel Kids” are special but are also fun-loving individuals who want to be treated just like everyone else.
“We want these books to spread awareness, acceptance and inclusion for special needs children everywhere,” O’Brien said. Originally from Yankton, South Dakota, O’Brien has been working full-time in USA’s Department of Chemistry since 2012. He received his Bachelor of Science in Professional Chemistry from South Dakota State University, his Master of Science from the University of North Dakota, and his Doctorate from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Before starting his teaching career, he worked in the chemical industry as a research scientist.