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Readers' Choice: Favorite New Special-Needs Parenting Book

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Finalist: What I Wish I'd Known About Raising a Child With Autism
What I Wish I'd Known About Raising a Child With Autism
Image courtesy of Future Horizons

Title: What I Wish I'd Known About Raising a Child With Autism
Subtitle: A Mom and a Psychologist Offer Heartfelt Guidance for the First Five Years
Authors: Bobbi Sheahan and Kathy DeOrnellas, Ph.D.
Length: 250 pages
Website: www.bobbisheahan.com/
Finalist for: Favorite New Special-Needs Parenting Book

Message from the Authors:

From Bobbi Sheahan: "I am a parent who teamed up with an autism professional (psychologist Dr. Kathy DeOrnellas) to spare other parents the pain, confusion, and discouragement that I went through in the initial stages of discovering that my daughter had an autism spectrum disorder. Cutting through the confusion and getting a diagnosis was much harder than actually dealing with the difficulties themselves. We’d like to spare you some of that if we can. What I Wish I'd Known about Raising a Child with Autism was written during the first seven years of parenting my daughter Grace, with a focus on the first four years. It is our love letter to Grace and our gift to the wave of parents who come behind us; it is our way to help you get on with the formidable tasks and great joys that you face. You may feel alone, but you aren't."

From Dr. Kathy DeOrnellas: "When Bobbi approached me about working with her on this book, I was happy to sign on. Many of the families with whom I work are overwhelmed by the process of seeking help for their child(ren). I believe this is the book that I could recommend to them as a source of information and support."

Excerpt from What I Wish I'd Known About Raising a Child With Autism:

Meltdowns in Public: Get Used to Humiliation
or Stop Leaving Your House

Some days just aren't going to go well. While that's true with any child, I find that I have to remind myself of this often. How do we know if something is an autism thing or a discipline issue? As my husband (reasonably) asks, "Who cares which one it is?" And how do we manage the response of a sibling who resents what seems to her to be grossly unequal treatment? Grace's sister Lucy asks, "Does Grace not have to do this chore because of autism?"

We can have a terrific day that's capped off by my child taking a blunt object to a playmate -- or to the bumper of my husband's parked car. For several months, "I wanted to get your attention" was her favorite explanation, as if she hadn't had most of my attention for most of the day. She'll hear a phrase like that, and I'll hear it for months. The next phrase I got, for months on end was, "It was my intent." Huh? Discouraging. Definitely discouraging.

We do our best to try to avoid meltdowns. Sometimes, however, our best efforts do no good. I still cringe when I think of the time that I took four-year-old Grace to a store because I foolishly thought that she needed some one-on-one time after an afternoon at the zoo with her sisters. Yes, she did enjoy the one-on-one time, but the store was overwhelming and violated our One Thing Per Day Rule. This is the perfect example of how something can be both a neurological issue and a misbehavior issue at the same time: her behavior was unacceptable (and horrifying), and I should have been slapped for trying to have her there at all. A kindly store manager carried out my purchases as I carried out Miss CrabbyPants. That was after she had wigged out and thrown things. Not only had I violated our One Thing Per Day Rule, but I also needed a reminder that days do not happen in isolation with us. Each day is influenced by the days that precede and follow.

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