The Bottom Line
By Nancy J. Whiteman and Linda Roan-Yager; 208 pages. From the cover: "Provides strategies for parents to understand and accept their range of feelings, reframe painful thoughts, and find balance and personal meaning in their own lives while raising their child with special needs."
You may have read books and completed questionnaires and written essays about how your child experiences things and what he or she needs to be happy and content. But when's the last time you figured those things out about yourself? This handy workbook is all about doing just that. Get a pencil.
- Friendly and easy to read
- Exercises gently prod you to take charge of your experience
- Stories from special-needs parents used effectively throughout to illustrate material
- Authors both have children with special needs, and share their own experiences, too
- Short enough to read through lightly, then re-read in depth
- If you're not into self-help, it may all seem like a lot of navel-gazing
- The exercises require time, thought and energy that can be hard to find
- Focuses more on developmental and mental-health special needs than on medical ones
- Seeing that sweet photo on the front will make you want to put the book down and nuzzle your child
- Chapter 1: Springing Back and Moving Forward: Resilience and Happiness
- Chapter 2: Putting on Your Oxygen Mask: Intention and Self-Care
- Chapter 3: The Twisted Skein: Embracing Our Complex and Conflicting Feelings
- Chapter 4: Seeing With New Eyes: Reframing Our Perceptions and Beliefs
- Chapter 5: Shrinking the Balloon: Seeing Our Child as a Whole Person
- Chapter 6: Building Our Children's Village: Deepening Our Child's Connections to Others
- Chapter 7: Knocking on the Door: Building Our Support Systems
- Chapter 8: Finding Personal Meaning: Unlocking the Fullness of Life
- Additional Resources
Guide Review - Book Review: Building a Joyful Life With Your Child Who Has Special Needs
When their children were diagnosed with special needs, Whiteman (mother of a girl with Bipolar Disorder) and Roan-Yager (whose daughter has Down syndrome) went looking for books that would tell them how to go about surviving such an unexpected life change, and finding nothing satisfactory, resolved to write one themselves. The result blends the no-nonsense, "take your life in your hands and fix it" approach of standard self-help books with a compassionate understanding of how hard that can be to do when your child's needs feel overwhelming.
With respect, understanding and insight, the authors use stories from other parents and from their own life experiences to illustrate some of the ways we can get swamped by feelings that may not even be useful or accurate, and how we might look at the problem differently to find a more effective solution. If you're so inclined, treat the book as a journal and set aside some "me time" each day to write your answers to the numerous worksheet-style exercises and reflect on how they can help you.
Then again, if sitting alone with your thoughts and a journal sounds like even less fun to you than sitting in a crowded waiting room with an antsy child, the self-help angle might not be so appealing. You can still pick up some useful, positive tactics just by reading through and skimming the questions, but consider this: The book suggests that learning techniques to reframe our own perceptions can also help us manipulate the perceptions of others. Getting defensive teachers and snippy schoolyard moms and reluctant relatives to abandon the attitude and help out? Sounds like cause for joy right there.