Friday, October 29, 2010

Book Review: A Regular Guy

The Autism Spectrum is so broad, the gifts and difficulties so varied, that people often tell me about how they feel alone, that their experiences are different than others, and no one understands what they’re going through. And, for those raising a child on the spectrum, there are ongoing challenges that can feel very isolating for parents as well as kids. It starts with noticing something concerning about a child, then moves to dealing with the medical professionals, getting the right diagnosis, finding the right services and the appropriate educational setting. Sadly, the typical world can be a harsh and judging critic along the way. And the difficulties don’t end in adulthood, because often special needs adults need individualized plans to ensure appropriate employment and living situations. Because each child is so different, it’s not a one size fits all situation.

That’s one way that books and blogs can be vital, as the link connecting individuals, showing people that they’re not alone and others might be going through a very similar struggle. A Regular Guy: Growing up with Autism , by Laura Shumaker is an excellent example of a book that helps create that connection for parents raising kids with special needs. Shumaker chronicles her struggles with the medical profession, helping her son find the right school setting, and to fit in with neighbors and friends. She’s honest about her family’s struggles, and compassionately attuned to the pain her son goes through as well.  The hardest parts of the book are those describing the many tough decisions Shumaker is forced to make, often for her son’s own good, but also hard for him to accept.

I recommend this insightful book for any parent dealing with those tough choices, and anyone feeling isolated or judged by their parenting situation.

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