Use this alphabetical index to find books that have been reviewed for the Harried Parent's Book Club.
Bottom Line: When the author's son was born in 1983, autism wasn't a hot topic in every paper and news broadcast and political discussion. Parents receiving the mysterious diagnosis were left, even more than now, to their own devices, with little in the way of conventional wisdom or peer support to guide them. The Accidental Teacher tells the story of Jonah from birth to age 24 with a mix of hope and resignation that will be familiar to anyone who's loved a child whose challenges don't magically vanish.
Bottom Line: Getting a diagnosis as early as possible, and taking advantage of interventions offered by state programs and school districts (and your own pocketbook, as far as it will stretch), is good advice for parents of children with special needs, whether they're dealing with autism or not. By sharing her own story and then distilling what worked into a strong informational text, Lytel, founder of The Early Intervention Network, provides a useful how-to and what-not-to for parents just starting out.
By Lynn E. McClannahan, Ph.D., and Patricia J. Krantz, Ph.D.; 147 pages. Subtitle: Teaching Independent Behavior.
The kind of independent behavior parents hope for -- doing chores, playing productively, making social contact -- doesn't just happen for kids with autism, it needs to be carefully orchestrated. If that sort of organization is something you have trouble carrying out independently, this small book will show you just how to make a picture schedule or word schedule to guide kids and adults through increasingly complex tasks.
Bottom Line: The second half of that subtitle -- "Practical Exercises to Help Your Child Focus" -- offers the best description of what this book has to offer. It is in no way the anti-drug manifesto the title suggests. The second half of the book's the best part, too, because that's where those exercises reside. The rest is a mishmash of caveats, contradictory theories, and case studies you can just as well skip.
Bottom Line: Everybody thinks they know what ADHD is all about -- hyperactivity and inattentiveness, right? -- but Kutscher stresses that the disorder is even more about an inability to organize and an impairment of the brain's executive function. Applying that knowledge to your child can help you focus on ways to help and support, not stress and depress.
Bottom Line: If there's ever a time in a child's life when parents need a guidebook, it's adolescence. Even for neurotypical kids, the teen years are a maze of emotions and changes and challenges, but when your teen is on the autism spectrum, the degree of difficulty is boosted considerably. Adolescents on the Autism Spectrum offers a friendly, non-alarmist look at the extra issues teens with ASD bring to this challenging phase.
Bottom Line: It's pretty simple: Understanding the brain better will help you understand your child better. This book makes it easy with short chapters, creative writing, and big concepts cut down to size.
Bottom Line: Alex Stimpson's birth, three months premature, starts a 13-month ordeal of poking, prodding, thumping, testing, confinement, and medical torture -- and that's just for his parents, whose first-baby fantasies are trampled under a stampede of doctors, nurses, administrators, and insurance drones who treat them in ways ranging from polite disinterest to contempt. How Alex finally makes it home, and how he and his family are changed by the experience, is the subject of this tough, touching memoir.
Bottom Lines: The family story that started in Alex: The Fathering of a Preemie continues here in a collection of essays tracing Alex's growing up from 2003 to 2008. With an autism diagnosis as well as some leftover health effects from his prematurity, Alex gives his parents lots to deal with, but the essays are mostly more light-hearted than gut-wrenching. Chances are, you'll relate.
Bottom Line: This looks like one of those cute gift books, but it's got a serious purpose: to provide a description of Asperger syndrome behaviors in the context of a creature for whom independence and aloofness is a point of pride. It's a clever, charming package.