The Bottom Line
Edited by Stanley D. Klein, Ph.D., and John D. Kemp, with a foreword by Marlee Matlin; 205 pages. Subtitle: What Adults With Disabilities Wish All Parents Knew
Do adults with disabilities have important things to tell parents about how to raise children with disabilities? It’s tempting to think so, given how little information about raising them our children tend to give out. But while there is much here that's inspirational, in the end, it’s all just hindsight. And some of it isn’t even 20/20.
- Includes viewpoints from those with a wide range of disabilities.
- Many offer touching tributes to their parents.
- Most entries are short, making for quick reading.
- A short biographical sketch follows each essay.
- These are voices that deserve a showcase.
- It's a lot easier to second-guess parents than to be one.
- Many of these stories are specific to their place and time.
- In some cases it would be nice to hear the parent's side of the story.
- The problem with short essays is that they can never tell the whole tale.
- Children aren't often the best judges of how, why, or even what their parents do.
- Foreword by Marlee Matlin
- Chapter 1: Love Me and Accept Me as I Am
- Chapter 2: Parents Are the Most Important Experts
- Chapter 3: Parental Expectations
- Chapter 4: Sexuality
- Chapter 5: Education About Disability
- Afterword: Disability Culture
- Resources for Parents and Family Members
Guide Review - Book Review: Reflections from a Different Journey
I had high hopes for this book when I first heard of it. Raising children with disabilities requires such an enormous degree of guesswork, instinct, making the best of bad options, all without even the slightest guidance from the little ones being raised. Wouldn’t it be great to have operating instructions -- clear indications of which choices will work out best, which attitudes will help and which will hinder, how to steer young lives in a way that will make for strong and successful adults? Wouldn’t it be great?
Maybe it would, but the problem is that there is no one best choice, no one best attitude, no one best route to steer to. Even within a particular diagnosis, every child is different, every family is different, every community, every school, every circumstance. As with books written by parents, stories about how people with disabilities have been raised can offer some element of commisseration or of “there but for the grace of God,” but they don’t really have anything practical to say about the challenges the reader or the reader’s family may be facing. The perspective of an adult with a disability may be interesting, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right for anyone other than him or her.
In the end, any one of us can look back on our upbringing and suggest how things could have been done better. Maybe the best insight this book offers is that in this respect as in so many others, people with disabilities are just like anybody else.