I recently read What I wish I'd Known about Raising a Child with Autism: A mom and a Psychologist Offer Heartfelt Guidance for the First Five Years by Bobbie Sheahan and Kathy DeOrnellas, Ph.D. As the title implies, this book is ideal for those just starting off on the autism journey. Filled with all kinds of basic information about autism and its symptoms, it's the perfect book for the parent who suspects her child may have autism.
This book has tons of great information, but what I think its absolute best attribute is the tone. Sheahan writes as if she is chatting with an old friend. She is not afraid to share her mistakes or foibles with us, which makes this book incredibly validating to parents. Sprinkled throughout are stories and quotes from Sheahan's own family, as well as other families with autism.
Also, the general attitude is one of acceptance and understanding. She encourages parents to really get to know their child, to understand his/her difficulties and try to work with them, instead of spending loads of time wishing their kid were normal. She discusses how as parents we need to advocate for our kids and their needs, regardless of how that makes other people (including family and friends) feel.
For example, Sheahan has discovered that her daughter cannot handle multiple outings within the same weekend, let alone the same day. She regularly schedules in downtime for Grace so she can recover from a birthday party or trip to the zoo. She doesn't allow herself to feel guilty for possibly letting down her friends or family members, since this is what Grace needs. I could so relate to this!
This is a definite must-read for parents starting out on the autism journey, but I think those with older kids can also benefit. I know I did!
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