Four Excellent Special Needs Parenting Books On Autism, ADHD, and Intellectual Disabilities
Every day our paths cross those of people with autism, developmental disabilities, ADHD, and other challenges. These special needs parenting books are not only for this group of parents but are great resources for all to help us understand the wide range of people we teach, work with or work for.
If we want society to embrace people who are differently-abled and who learn differently, it is important that our teaching establishments and communities be kind and inclusive. The following books, written by experts in their field and by parents who have raised children with special needs to adulthood, will help to achieve this goal.
By Dr. Temple Grandin and Sean Barron
This is a very interesting book written by and about two autistic individuals. In the first two parts, the authors share not just their thoughts, but their ways of thinking. We learn how this affects their social behavior and why some aspects of their lives have been so difficult. You will learn the differences between visual vs verbal thinkers.
Temple’s logical mind controlled her social behavior. She interacted with many adults and other children, experiencing varied social situations. Logic informed her decision to obey social rules and avoid unpleasant consequences. Sean’s emotions controlled his social behavior. Baffled by social rules, he was often isolated and friendless.
In PART THREE, titled The Ten Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships, the authors have settled on 10 basic social rules autistics should be taught. The last 300 pages of this 425 page book explain how these rules can be taught and why they have been singled out as being important. How they are taught will vary with each individual based on their thinking pattern and the other brain and body challenges present in the person.
Find a copy of this very interesting book to learn how Temple Grandin and Sean Barron became successful adults. Many with autism or their caregivers will be able to “find themselves” in either of these two very different ways autism plays out. Their powerful stories will enthrall readers and the lessons they learned will enlighten you.
By Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D.
This book is a wealth of information and parenting tips for ALL parents. However, from the 400 books we have reviewed, this book that has left me “sitting on the fence.” Why? As a teacher with thirty years teaching in our French elementary classrooms and as a grandmother of a teen with ADD, I have seen first-hand how helpful medications can be for students with ADHD. On the other hand, yes, probably many students could also be helped by the, “101 Ways to Improve Your Child’s Behavior and Attention Span Without Drugs, Labels, or Coercion,” as described in Thomas Armstrong’s book.
The detailed Table of Contents makes it very easy to locate sections you want to reread or direct a friend to read if they do not have the time to read a book of over 350 pages.
In The Myth of the ADHD Child, Dr. Armstrong discusses:
- The overmedication issue: what the studies show regarding the dangers of psychoactive medication use with children.
- The school environment issue: there is a link between school accountability/school pressure to achieve and the rising rates of ADHD, as well as a correlation between being the youngest child in a class and the higher risk of being labeled ADHD, and consequently medicated.
- The gender issue: what used to pass for normal boyhood behavior is now pathologized as ADHD, conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, etc.
- The late bloomer issue: rather than letting our kids grow at their own rate in a supportive and enriching environment, we’re medicating late bloomers for not immediately meeting milestones.
Almost every chapter ends with a section titled “FOR FURTHER INFORMATION.” Here readers will find links, contact information, names of resources, associations, speakers, etc. that parents will appreciate greatly.
By Cindy Rasmussen
The book charts the difficult but inspiring course Cindy Rasmussen’s family navigated in their search to find the support and services their autistic son needed all the while raising two other sons.
It is an engaging and emotional story as you read about Steven and follow his life from birth to his autistic diagnosis at age 3 to the present as a man in his early 40’s. Cindy Rasmussen’s inspiring book is an honest portrayal of what it is like to live with autism on a daily basis.
Cindy explains Steven’s early tantrums and other challenging, dangerous behaviors. Like many autistic individuals, Steven had two fascinations: swimming pools and elevators. He also could not tolerate transitions from routine. His teen years brought on other problems.
Steven’s father and two brothers have written each a chapter and they share personal and heartfelt accounts of their experience living with an autistic member in their family.
“If you are the parent of an autistic child, I want to share our story with you so you will know you are not alone,” Cindy Rasmussen wrote in her introduction to the book. “Our story does not have a ‘happily ever after’ ending but it is a story of hope and encouragement.”
By Linda Atwell
Congratulations to the team behind Loving Lindsey as it is an Award Finalist in the, “Parenting & Family,” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards.
Parents also raising a teen or young adult with special needs will be able to relate to the chapters dealing with getting a job, birth control, moving in with a partner, living on their own or in a group home, and knowing who is a true friend compared to someone who wants to take advantage of them. Lindsey’s parents hoped their life raising two children was going to be like a merry-go-round ride; however, it turned out to be a roller coaster ride with many loop-de-loops. Atwell is honest about the challenges of raising a child with intellectual disabilities to adulthood and doesn’t throw any silliness at us about how-this-was-really-a-blessing.
Linda writes in a conversational tone. Reading her book, you will feel you are sitting with a friend chatting over coffee. Other times you feel like a fly on the wall witnessing the complicated relationship between mother and daughter who is an adult and legally able to make her own decisions and yet she will stay a forever-child. You will rejoice with her parents when Lindsey makes another step towards being independent or makes a good decision. You will feel sad and angry when Lindsey’s life goes sideways.
We highly recommend you read this book to understand and appreciate the love and devotion, perseverance and determination it takes for parents to get what their children with special needs require to reach their potential. And all this hard work and worrying does not finish with the end of high school. The next phase of their lives just gets scarier and more challenging! ‘Little Kids, Little Problems, Big Kids, Big Problems’ is so true in most cases.