In the interests of full disclosure, I asked for and received a free copy for review of What I Wish I’d Known About Raising a Child with Autism. I did not receive any other compensation or promises of blog promotion for this review, nor am I keeping the review copy I received. Following the review, I will provide a link to instructions for a giveaway of the same copy. (Hopefully, the winner will not be offended by a gently used free book!)
Bobbi Sheahan is one of the first people I met in the online autism spectrum community. I began following her on both Twitter and Facebook and have enjoyed a friendly online connection with her. Having read a couple of her guest posts and enjoying her no-nonsense style of writing, I suspected that her book would probably be quite good. Since I am a people pleaser and, since I have taken a liking to Bobbi, I said a quick prayer following my request for a review copy that I would like it. I was extraordinarily relieved (yet not surprised) within reading just a few pages. It is excellent, and I am delighted to recommend it.
There are a lot of books about autism on the market these days. They range from the dry and somewhat clinical to the sentimental and tear duct-activating. The informational books tend to cover all aspects of autism from birth to adulthood. That’s great –- if you are a little ways into your autism parenting journey. But it can be overwhelming to those just starting out. To those still in the early years, with toddlers and preschoolers. And, often, they tell you all about autism behaviors and all the therapeutic things you should be doing with your child (again – somewhat overwhelming), but precious little about how to handle it in reality. How to handle your own emotions. Tips for making your life easier. Suggestions for how to keep your sanity. And how to know what is most important amongst the onslaught of information and reality overload.
That’s what What I Wish I’d Known About Raising a Child with Autism really is. Bobbi Sheahan is that dear family friend who comes to your house on a day of crisis with a casserole in hand who takes your hand and says, “Stay calm. It’s really going to be all right. I’ve been through this too. Here’s what you really need to know.” Dr. Kathy DeOrnellas provides professional commentary throughout each section that reinforces and elaborates on each of Sheahan’s topics. It’s a great combination that supports and informs without being condescending.
Sheahan, with honesty and humility, shares her own experiences beginning parenting an autistic child. She assumes little background knowledge on the part of the reader and enlightens us on topics such as autism lingo, balancing between overreacting and underreacting, handling unsolicited advice, the importance of childproof locks, being kind to yourself, the effects of autism parenting on relationships and marriage, balancing a social life, as well as necessary information on typical autism topics such as food aversions, sensory issues, sleep problems, etc.
Being a quote lover, here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book:
“Going from ‘There’s nothing wrong here’ to ‘The sky is falling!’ can be jarring. Freaking out a bit is normal. It won’t always be a shock to your system. You can’t measure your entire future – or your child’s-by the way you feel at this moment. Once you start to know where all of this is headed, it does get easier.” -Bobbi Sheahan
“Don’t be afraid to reach out to other parents. Nothing your child is doing is going to be any weirder than something their own child has already done. Really.” – Bobbi Sheahan
“You are the expert on your child. I know more than you do about autism and I know lots of kids with autism, but you know more than I will ever know about your child. Nothing you tell a professional about your child should be dismissed.” -Kathy DeOrnellas, PH.D
If you are the parent of a child just being diagnosed on the spectrum, especially in the early years, do yourself a favor and get a copy of this book. Highly recommended.