From the author of "Hands Are Not For Hitting" is a new book that talks to kids about what they experience because they are on the autism spectrum.
Sho...moreFrom the author of "Hands Are Not For Hitting" is a new book that talks to kids about what they experience because they are on the autism spectrum.
Wait....why aren't we talking to our kids about autism? That's something I've thought during most IEP meetings, at which my son is not present. Granted, he's 7. Then again, he's 7. Not stupid. And this is his life.
Elizabeth Verdick ("Hands Are Not For Hitting") and Elizabeth Reeve, MD are both mothers of sons on the autism spectrum. They've written a guide, meant to be read with a parent, to help children with autism to understand why they experience the world differently than their classmates, and to make choices to guide their future. There's a chapter about learning body language, complete with photos of a boy and girl giving knucks. The book talks about bedwetting, how to start a conversation, and exactly how hard you're supposed to hit someone in the game "tag."
I haven't yet read this book cover to cover, but I have read it sufficiently enough and with enough suspicion that it not be precious or condescending to recommend it to parents and family members of children with autism, but primarily for the children themselves. This is a step to help us all imagine a future as full as the futures of their neurotypical peers. I laud Verdick and Reeve for providing this book so that we can take it.(less)
I had never read this book before today. I always passed it over because of the outdated illustrations (yes, it was first published a mere four years...moreI had never read this book before today. I always passed it over because of the outdated illustrations (yes, it was first published a mere four years before I was born. Let's move on.) The contents are wonderful, but you'd expect that from contributors like Judy Blume and Shel Silverstein and Judith Viorst. What made me fall in love were the illustrations - oh, the illustrations! The artists of the new illustrations include Henry Cole (And Tango Makes Three), Peter H. Reynolds (Judy Moody series) and LeUyen Pham (Big Sister, Little Sister). They make this volume a book worth having, worth giving, and worth reading over and over.(less)
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, w...moreI 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 of parents and siblings whose lives are affected by special needs children.
I took immense comfort in these stories even as I seethed at the reviewers. I went through with a pen (not even a pencil), starring and underlining and drawing smiley faces and exclamation points . Everyone spoke the truth of my existence, even if the diagnoses of our children differed. “[T:]he whiplash of being a special-needs mom seemed permanent,” writes Brodey (p 83).
A mother of a son with autism echoes my fatigue: “I could never, ever, let my guard down, and by the end of the day, the strain of always trying to stay one step ahead of his overactive mind exhausted me physically and mentally.” (p 64)
The contributors have experiences that range from simply tiring and/or training, to heartbreaking. There’s one mother who recounts what a teacher friend overheard in the teachers lounge, when another teacher came in and complained she “had that damn autistic kid.” Or the woman who had two boys, both in need of medication for their ADHD, and kept a blog of her personal challenges. A national group singled out her experience as an example of their cause – mandatory sterilization.
An experience universal to the parents of special needs children is the dearth of services – therapy, school, social. Still, one glaring absence in this collection was the experience of low-income families. The families in this book had the resources to push and advocate for their children with government agencies, schools, etc. Families in which there is only one parent, or in which both parents have to work, have no recourse available.
All of the reviewers of this book praised it, recommending it to any parent of a special-needs child. And, well, sure, community is great. But how many people, who are childless, or who have neurotypical and physiotypical kids, are going to crack this book? In the end, that seems to me to be the point. So many of us have endured the comments from strangers about how to raise our “disobedient kids,” or the teachers who ignore our children because “they don’t get it anyway.” We know these people are not cruel, only ignorant. Why isn’t this book recommended to them?
Feed it to the media, shout it to the masses: READ THIS BOOK. It’s quick, it’s well-written, it’s humorous and hopeful. Everyone needs its message, because any time someone in cruelty or thoughtlessness belittles someone with special needs, the fabric of humanity frays, and we are all the shabbier for it. (less)