6 Books that Offer Advice for Parents of Children With Special Needs

Books that offer experiences and advice for parents of children with special needs.

"A Challenged Life: Raising a Child With Special Needs"
By Danielle Zimmerman; B.E.S.M. Inc., 2010; $14.94, paperback
In this moving story, the author openly describes the emotionally draining but rewarding process of caring for Abigail, her special needs daughter who, at 8 months old, was diagnosed with global development delays. Parents struggling with similar difficult news about their own children might find comfort and encouragement through this book. Zimmerman gives compassionate advice and shares her experiences with doctor visits, marital intimacy, finances and education. At the end, she includes a comprehensive resource guide that includes several websites, books and support groups.

"The Kid-Friendly ADHD and Autism Cookbook: The Ultimate Guide to the Gluten-free, Casin-free Diet"
By Pamela J. Compart and Dana Laake; Quayside Publishing Group, 2009; $24.95, hardcover
This how-to guide for beginning and maintaining a healthy lifestyle and diet for children with ADHD and autism is more than just a cookbook. It focuses on the science behind how diet relates to autism and ADHD and explains how food can improve children's brain function and attitude. In addition to updates on new research and findings, readers will find suggestions from the authors for packing school lunches and snacks. This book not only provides gluten-free casin-free substitutes and recipes, it also provides clever ways to disguise healthy foods and recommendations for getting rid of junk food. It includes 100 new recipes and a resource section.

"My Emily"
By Matt Patterson; CreateSpace, 2011; $9.99, paperback
This moving and beautifully crafted story illustrates how the treatment of a child born with Down syndrome and later diagnosed with cancer impacts a family. It is candidly written in a way that only a parent who has firsthand experience could do. Patterson's remarkable story is relatable to anyone struggling with a new diagnosis or grieving a loss, and provides comfort as well as inspiration. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of "My Emily" goes to families who have children with special needs or are battling cancer, and to parents mourning the loss of a child.

"Seeing Ezra"
By Kerry Cohen; Seal Press, 2011; $25, hardcover
"Seeing Ezra" is a powerful and thought-provoking narrative of the obstacles a mother goes through to protect her autistic son from a system that only wants to "fix" him. The author's son, Ezra, is classified outside the boundary of society's "normal" and puts a strain on Cohen's family life and marriage. It isn't until she abandons the stereotypical ideologies about love, marriage and individuality that she is able to save her marriage and accept and value Ezra just as he is. This book shows the reader what the experience of mothering an autistic child is like and what dealing with the world's reaction to autism is like. Her honesty is riveting and heartbreaking as her struggles are laid bare for the reader. Cohen outlines the complicated world of a child with autistic spectrum disorder and paints a beautiful portrait of a unique and inspirational human being.

"My Brother Is Different"
By Barbra Morvay; BookMasters Inc., 2009; $24.99, paperback
Focusing on the siblings of an autistic child, this unique book is two-sided with two covers, and it is divided into three parts. The parents' section provides straight talk and deals honestly with the effect their autistic child is having on their other child. It instructs them on how to replace the negative feelings with positive action. Part two is a roadmap for opening up the line of communication with the child about his or her autistic sibling and is designed to be read aloud with the child. Flip the book over to find a child-friendly section written in rhyme with more than 40 bright and beautiful illustrations. This section helps the sibling work through any conflicted emotions or questions they might have about their autistic sibling. "My Brother is Different" may be used as a helpful tool for families, teachers, social workers dealing with families of autistic children, counselors, psychologists, children who have an autistic child in their classroom, college students in teacher preparation programs and anyone interested in learning about how an autistic child affects the family.

"Raising Resilient Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders: Strategies for Maximizing Their Strengths, Coping With Adversity, and Developing a Social Mindset"
By Dr. Robert Brooks and Dr. Sam Goldstein; McGraw-Hill Professional, 2012; $18, paperback
This book explores strategies to build a "social resilient mindset" in children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. Brooks and Goldstein explain how to apply techniques to foster resilience through real-life examples and prescriptive narratives. They teach parents the eight key guideposts to raising a child with ASD, and elaborate on how the guideposts help the child become strong enough to face social situations on his or her own, cope with everyday obstacles and communicate with others. This book also discusses common misconceptions and perceptions about children with autism; challenges children with autism and their parents face and how to manage these challenges; and the significance of autism's prevalence. This book will not only benefit parents of children who have been diagnosed with autism, but anyone who seeks to change perceptions of the disorder and desires to help better the education of children who have been diagnosed with it.