The moment you become a parent, life as you know it will never be the same. When you learn you have become the parent of a medically fragile child it must be a jarring, surreal, numbing time. Parenting a child with special needs is a challenge and cannot be done alone. Support can come from professionals, family members, friends, online, and through parenting books
Once you have read a very good book, you know its message will stay with you forever. When you see it on your shelf, its content tumbles through your mind and you relive the hours you got lost reading it. The following books on parenting children with special needs are all written by parents who have the gift of writing about their parenting journey so you will never forget it and it will make you navigate better and appreciate your parenting journey that much more.
-by Dixie Fremont-Smith Coskie
A mother of 8 children pours out her heart in a memoir revealing her raw emotions and her family’s fight to bring back their son, Paul, to his former self.
This amazing story of survival starts with her 13 year old son’s traumatic brain injury (TBI) when he was involved in a car accident while riding his bike; he was not wearing a bike helmet. The severe trauma to his head leaves Paul clinging to life, two months in a coma followed by almost five months in a rehabilitation hospital. Dixie continues her account by bringing us into her home to witness the years of grueling out-patient therapies. We witness how her family moves on and the lessons learned from this life changing experience as Paul’s sibling go out into the world.
Unthinkable should be read by health professionals so they know how the family members of their patients feel and how they could alleviate some of their worries. Family and friends will read suggestions on how best to help others going through difficult times in their lives.
All parents will value this story showing the “power of the family” and how we should make every day count. Unthinkable is a called a Caregiver’s Companion. Parents of special needs children, be it the result of accidents, birth defects or child hood diseases, will treasure Unthinkable as their how-to-survival guide. Each chapter ends with bulleted format Tips on navigating the hospital routines, treatments, meetings, transition to rehab, transition to homecare, setting up an education program, and most of all how to care for yourself so you can continue to care for others that rely on you.
It is an open book to a mom’s heart. The author lets us in her most private thoughts; we feel her fear, her anger, and her interior struggle with God’s will about life or death. Above all we learn valuable lessons we can store to bring out when our lives are shattered. The reader should never take life for granted after reading Unthinkable. The accident is not the story, the aftermath to it is. And what a story!
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-by Robert Naseef Ph.D.
Autism in the Family is beautifully written by a father and professional who wants to tell his story, give his advice, and make a difference in the lives of other individuals. He lays his soul bare and touches the reader to the core. Reading page after page I was stunned by his frank passages that painted a vivid picture of his son growing up and the challenges his son Tariq and his family faced. The author wants this book to be the book he hoped he had had when his son was diagnosed with autism. I am sure it is!
Autism in the Family is especially for fathers of autistic children who seem to be left out in many books about autism. It is for siblings, family, friends, teachers, and professionals who are also important travelling companions on this difficult journey of raising an autistic child to adulthood. So many will benefit from Dr. Naseef’s touching account of how he felt while raising his son who has profound autism to the age of 33 when he ends his book.
Dr. Naseef covers most parenting topics giving down-to-earth advice how to tackle the most challenging situations. Case studies and his personal stories show you others find it difficult too and the author has practical suggestions on how to cope, how to accept, and how to love your child in the moment.
Finally someone tells parents that hard work does NOT solve every problem. What works for some children will not work with others as individuals with autism vary with their symptoms and their severity. Anger about your situation may give you great energy to change things but it can also lead to feelings of isolation because you feel no one can understand. Anger can also eat people up inside. The chapter, The Emotional Journey: From Lost Dreams and Chronic Stress to Acceptance helps you let go feelings of guilt, anger, sadness, and depression.
This book is the story of how the author was force to change himself and embrace his son as he is. We learn that Tariq taught him the meaning of unconditional love and that dreams are deferred and some dreams are remade.
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-by Margaret Meder
Margaret Meder successfully accomplished what she set out to do: write a book to make someone else’s life easier. She expertly wove their first seven years of parenting a child with special needs with advice, information, resource links, validation, ideas, and hope for parents who are starting their difficult years of parenting a child with complicated health conditions.
What I appreciated about her book is that Margaret Meder comes out as a regular mom who is living through an extremely difficult experience and not a stoic hero no one can emulate. She grieved and cried and tells you it is OK to feel this way. She discusses antidepressants and sedatives and makes you realize parents must take care of themselves to not fall into pieces. She really believes in the saying, “Care for yourself first so you can be of help to those who rely on you.” She points out and often has the links to many agencies and professionals that can help families including social workers, spiritual services, early intervention services, respite services, etc.
She writes as if she were a friend speaking to you. The whole book follows an easy to read format for tired, distraught parents. In a few paragraphs she explains the topic at hand and then she shares how this particular event was for them. Their story is always told in a few paragraphs written in the first person. Then she recaps in a few paragraphs giving more information or tips. If you only have a few minutes to read, a few pages has a beginning and an end and you will always find encouragement, hope, and know-how to get you through another day or get you to sleep for much needed rest. Her suggestions are practical and immediately doable.