Thursday, July 08, 2004

Super book for special-needs parents

Going to the Department of Motor Vehicles is good for something more than getting your driver's license, it turns out. The four hours I had to wait to renew my license last week (on the morning of my birthday, no less; do I know how to party, or what?) was plenty of time for me to finish reading Paul Collins' excellent "Not Even Wrong: Adventures in Autism." This is one of those books you read with a magical realization of : "So it wasn't just me! Other parents have felt this way, too!"

So many books turn the parenting of special-needs children into a tragedy and the parents themselves into saints. I don't have much use for those. But "Not Even Wrong" manages to be funny, true, educational and encouraging without ever being falsely inspirational. Good stuff, and not even a four-hour DMV line can dampen my enthusiasm for it. I found lots to relate to: the accounts of dealing with professionals who seem to spitefully overlook all that is unique and delightful about your child in favor of clucking over developmental milestones; the dawning realization that you have entered an alternate universe where your idea of normal parent-child experiences and others' are unreconcilable; even the research the author does into autism, although more journalistic than my own in the early days of trying to figure out what the heck was up with my son, touches on some of my favorites, paticularly the works of Temple Grandin and Oliver Sacks.

I was so excited about this book that I asked the publisher to allow me to post an excerpt on Mothers with Attitude, and am happy to say that that excerpt is now up and ready for viewing. The passage I chose describes young Morgan's first early intervention evaluation, and boy, have I been there, endured that. In my son's case, the video camera was hidden, but its very long, coiled extension cord was in plain sight, and way more interesting than any toys the evaluator could throw his way. Then there was the time a psychologist tried to evaluate him in a house that was packed with more knicknacks than I'd ever seen in one place -- plus a piano, a baby and a cat. The doctor was filled with dire predictions based on the fact that my son would rather look at all the stuff than interact with him, but honestly, he was by far the least interesting thing in the room. Collins' book made me look back on those days with ... well, not fondness, exactly, but certainly fellowship. Read and enjoy the excerpt, and then, I urge you, check out the book as well. We special-needs parents don't have that many opportunities to see our lives in print.

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