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The Elephant in the Playroom: Ordinary Parents Write Intimately and Honestly About Raising Kids with Special N eeds
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The Elephant in the Playroom: Ordinary Parents Write Intimately and Honestly About Raising Kids with Special N eeds

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  234 ratings  ·  65 reviews
A view from within the whirlwind of parenting a child with special needs

Four years ago, Denise Brodey’s young son was diagnosed with a combination of special needs. As she struggled to make sense of her new, chaotic world, what she found comforted her most was talking with other parents of kids with special needs, learning how they coped with the emotional, medical, and so
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Paperback, 256 pages
Published February 26th 2008 by Plume (first published April 19th 2007)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 482)
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Aerin
I hated reviews of this book, a collection of essays I think everyone should read.

Elephant came about because Denise Brodey, editor of Fitness mag, wanted to hear the stories of other parents of special needs children when her son was diagnosed with Sensory Integration Disorder and childhood depression in 2003. Using her professional background, Brodey asked these parents to share their stories – the ups and downs, joys and pains, laughter and tears – in short essays. These are the experience o
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Jessica McCann
Inspiring and surprisingly funny, heartbreaking and painfully comforting... this book is a collection of essays by parents about raising kids with special needs.

My husband and I picked it up at the bookstore during one of our many quests for answers. Then the book sat in a pile waiting to be read for months. My husband finally picked it up and finished reading it in about three days. He let out a huge sigh, of relief, "Wow, we're not alone." It took me weeks to get through it, and perhaps an en
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Erin
When you're a parent, you often feel like you're the only person in the world dealing with the challenges of raising kids. (I think that's why Supernanny is so popular -- it makes us feel like other people have kids worse than our own!)

When you're raising a child with special needs, though, these problems can be even more obvious, and more alienating.

The Elephant in the Playroom is a collection of essays written by average parents with not-so-average kids. Ranging from preschoolers with ADHD t
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Lisa
I loved that these were parents and not experts talking about their own children. Each story is unique and each one taught me something. Some stories are really heart-wrenching, like the mom who had a sweet autistic son. The first day of Kindergarten the teacher announces to the staff, Shoot, they stuck me with that autistic kid this year. Nice. Needless to say, they had a horrible year with an unbending teacher who refused to honor even the simplest request to help this child. But there was a v ...more
Ellyn
When you do the work that I do, no amount of attempting to understand how parents with special needs kids feel is too much. This book is a great one because it honestly and candidly takes you into the lives of parents through their own words. It's a quick read and one that I would recommend to any parent, special needs child or not!
Kristi
I found this book while searching for info regarding my son who is intellectually disabled. I didn't read this book cover to cover, just the parts that I felt would pertain to my situation or that sounded interesting or helpful, as this book covers a wide range of disabilities. I loved hearing from parents who were honest with the highs and lows they experienced. So many were able to beautifully put into words the way I feel yet have trouble expressing. Sometimes it's just nice to know that you ...more
Tapestrymlp
This is a collection of non-fiction accounts from parents of children with Special Needs. There are various topic sections such as "deciding to medicate," "going public" and others on just dealing in general. The book slants heavily toward children with mental disabilities, such as Autism & ADHD, rather than kids with straight medical conditions such as cancer or what not. That probably has a lot to do with the fact that the author has a child with Autism.

Many of the stories that were share
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Lisa Nelson
Book Review
The Elephant in the Playroom
Denise Brodey

Ordinary Parents Write Intimately and Honestly About the Extraordinary Highs and Heartbreaking Lows of Raising Kids with Special Needs

The author's descriptive title fits the book perfectly. Through irreverancy and poignancy, bared-soul, raw-edged prose and digified tribute, Denise and her special group of parents have laid it all out for us to see: the Extraordinary Highs and Heartbreaking Lows of Raising Kids with Special Needs, as they've ea
...more
Lisa Nelson
Mar 09, 2009 Lisa Nelson rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who cares about someone with special needs
Shelves: autism-research
Book Review
The Elephant in the Playroom
Denise Brodey

Ordinary Parents Write Intimately and Honestly About the Extraordinary Highs and Heartbreaking Lows of Raising Kids with Special Needs

The author's descriptive title fits the book perfectly. Through irreverancy and poignancy, bared-soul, raw-edged prose and digified tribute, Denise and her special group of parents have laid it all out for us to see: the Extraordinary Highs and Heartbreaking Lows of Raising Kids with Special Needs, as they've ea
...more
Tiffany
Every pediatric therapist, every parent that has a child with special needs, and every OT, PT, or Speech student, has to read this book. And what the heck -- every teacher should read it, too, in order to gain a different perspective on the "bad" kids in their classrooms.

Elephant in the Playroom is a compilation of stories shared by parents who are raising children with Sensory Processing Disorder, Sensory Integration Dysfunction, and Pediatric Mental Illness. It offers insight for parents and p
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Tracy O
Sep 12, 2007 Tracy O rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Parents of Kids with Special Needs or Learning Disabilities
Shelves: essays
Thank God for this book - it's very comforting to read. It will not help you address your child's issues per se. It is a book of essays by parents with kids with special needs and it gives each parent's perspective on particular issues (such as what it's like to try to find the right school for your child and how great it can be when you finally do, the things that help their children, and how it feels to watch your child (or yourself) struggle with different types of situations).

Even though my
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Chris
I'm currently reading this one and am about half way through. While I don't have a child with special needs I have worked with many such children and also have friends who have children with special needs. I felt that this book would be an interesting look at what these families face and at their triumphs. The book features many essays by different parents and does indeed offer insight. The writing itself varies based on who the writer is, but the stories are all compelling. The book sets itself ...more
Jeannie Lee
For the most part, the book was really helpful to me. My son is a special needs child, although his needs are not as substantial as some of the children from the book. I really liked the fact that it was parents speaking, not specialists. I have it up to my forehead with specialists right now, and I just wanted to know my feelings were normal and that I wasn't alone in my suffering. Reading the stories of the other parents and their challenges and coping strategies gave me hope. I realized that ...more
Stacey
At out last MOPS meeting, the speaker spoke about how to help your children understand children with disabilities. It starts before that, however, with understanding disabilities myself. I have a number of friends who have children with disabilities, and I suppose you could say Eli and Emma have their own labels (ADD and selective mutism) --although they wear them quite loosely--and they do not change our lives to the extent of many of the diabilities highlighted in the book. It was enlightening ...more
Knitty
Of the books by parents of special needs children that I've read, this is by far my favorite. The writing is consistently good and the parents are honest about both their challenges and their feelings about being "special" parents. My only complaint is that the collection doesn't include a story about Down's Syndrome, which struck me as odd (are there really so few DS children being born now that the editors couldn't find even a single story?) The disabilities presented here are heavily skewed t ...more
Tricia
As diverse as the showing was in this book, I still feel it's a little too limited. As the mother of a child with special needs, (a daughter with Down syndrome, a disorder not found in the book) I found this book focused on one "area" of need more than others. It tended to focus on ASD and mental illness as opposed to more generalized learning disabilities. While I can see how it could be helpful for other parents of children like the ones in this book, it's not an accurate picture of "special n ...more
Kate
One of the most encouraging books I have read in a long time. I will certainly recommend this book to every parent of special needs kids that I know. I'm looking forward to buying my own copy.
Bob Rodenbaugh
This is a completely on target collection of very reader friendly essays that depicts another side of parenting that is so often not understood by those who will, fortunately, never experience raising children with emotional or behavioral disabilities. As a school principal of a K-12 school that specializes in working with these children and their families I would strongly recommend anyone planning on parenting, passing educational legislation, or passing judgement on families (parents or kids) ...more
Kim
It took me a long time to read this book..but not because it wasn't good, I'm just going through a period of not being into reading as much. Anyway...I found this to be such an awesome book of writings from parents of children with a variety of disabilities...from ADHD to CP to Bipolor to Autism. Just found this to be so honest and so heartrending and so touching. I would recommend this book to ALL people. When parents have children who do not fit the "mold" the last thing in the world they need ...more
Ashleigh Rivers
a really great collection of encouraging and inspiring stories
Melanieslagle
Jan 31, 2008 Melanieslagle rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: SLPs and parents of children with disabilities
I happened to see this at the library and was really glad to have found it. It gives you insight into the lives of famlies who have a child with a disability.

This book included essays written by parents who have children from a range of disabilities and how they each struggle and/or overcome struggles regardless of the magnitude of the disorder. Other books have a tendancy to focus on one disability - this one didn't.

I have a different perspective towards the parents of the children I see.
Mel
This is a must read for ANYONE who has a special needs child. I actually would like to encourage people who have friends or relatives with a special needs child to read this book. It is so hard to make people understand what our lives are really like and why I am not running around to playdates and preschool all the time. I have a 4 yr old that consumes most of my day. This is an excellent book of essays written by everyday people that have a child with a special need from autism to CP.
Sherry
This was a remarkable collection of essays written by the parents of special needs children. What surprised me the most was the quality of the writing - neither too professional nor too unpracticed - everything was well paced. I enjoyed the variety of the essays and the topics covered.

As the parent of a child with high-functioning Aspergers, I found the autism stories more meaningful - and also a reminder of how much worse things could be for my son.
Juli
This book is for every parent who has ever had to politely listen to "You should just [insert advice here:] with that child..." and for those people who have said it. It's a book of essays written by ordinary parents with extraordinary kids... or as society has labeled them: special needs children. These are kids with everything from anxiety to autism, to depression to bipolar disorder. I nodded, I smiled, but mostly I appreciated.
Tamara B
I enjoyed this book a lot. It gave lots of insight as to what parents with special needs kids have to go through on a daily basis. It makes you think about your own kids weather they are "special" or not and makes you cherish them no matter what their situation may be. It also helps to give some ideas to those of us that do have children with special needs and reminds us that we are trulely their #1 advocate and teacher.
Jen
This is an amazing book. It's a very easy read, lots of short essays from dozens of parents with special needs children. Anyone who has a special needs child should definitely read it, and even those who DON'T, should read it so they can understand what other families go through. I can't even put into words how touching this book was, and how inspired I feel, having read it.
Rebecca
This book sets itself apart from others like it due to the range of diagnoses of the children (ADHD, mood disorders, autism, sensory integration disorder, cerebral palsey) and the ages of the children (from 2 and 3 to, I believe, a child in his 30's). I'd recommend it to anyone who is a parent, who is thinking of becoming a parent, or who works with children.
Debbie
Oct 22, 2007 Debbie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone who has a special needs child or knows one!
Shelves: parenting
This book was so cathartic to me. It helped me so much to know that I'm not alone in my heartaches and frustrations of raising a child with special needs; as well as 'getting' just how huge accomplishing the seemingly smallest milestone is! I loved this book and would gladly share it with anyone who is curious about how parents of special needs kids REALLY feel.
Travis
This book was really intense to read at times, but it has a lot of inspiring content! I read this book for an assignment, but I ended up getting a lot out of it personally. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about the challenges of raising children who have disabilities, or wants to know more amount disabilities in general.
Brandi
I love this book! Finally a book written for and by parents like me. I know what it is like to get the dirty looks and hear the whispers and comments of those who just don't get what our family lives with on a daily basis. I want to thank the parents who were brave enough to open up and share both the happy and heartbreaking stories about their children.
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The Elephant in the Playroom: Ordinary Parents Write Intimately and Honestly About Raising Kids with Special Needs

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“Concern should drive us into action, not into depression” 5 likes
“Fortunately analysis is not the only way to resolve inner conflicts. Life itself still remains a very effective therapist. ” 3 likes
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