Several weeks ago I was contacted by a publicist from Chicken Soup for the Soul requesting a book review of one of their latest additions to theChicken Soup series Raising Kids on the Spectrum. I have never read any of the Chicken Soup books, so I jumped at the opportunity to try something new. I knew it would be a different experience for me, and I had heard some good things about it.
When I received the book in the mail my first impression was that this was most definitely going to be an in depth read. It was quite a bit bigger than I had anticipated, which is always a good thing. I love books to take me on a journey lasting more than a few hours, or a weekend.
As a matter of fact, true to the unpredictable fashion of life with autism things popped up, and inconveniences happened. As I began getting into the stories in the book it seemed that one thing after another kept diverting my attention. From school issues to unexpected appointments. I just couldn't devote the time I wanted to really get the book read. Thankfully, the way that the stories in it are set up that was okay. Though my bookmark moved at a snail's pace day after day I found that Raising Kids on the Spectrum didn't leave me feeling like I had lost my place every time I had to set it down, and pick up later.
With other types of books it seems that I almost have to go get back into the story after getting distracted, and putting it down. Not so with the easy to navigate short stories in this book. I found that each little contribution was short enough to where I could easily read it in one sitting. This is important for parents of ASD kids, because we often don't have more than 5 minutes at a time to spare.
Raising Kids on the Spectrum takes you through 101 stories from other autism parents pouring their hearts as they describe raising children with different needs. Some stories have you laughing, and some nodding in "me too!" fashion as you recognize your own child in them, or perhaps yourself as you step into someone else's life for moment, and realize it's not too different from your own. For many of us, that's a rare opportunity, as we find ourselves isolated.. Finding that connection can be enough to get us through the bad days, and finding the humor can lift us up, reminding us to look for the good.
There are 9 chapters highlighting the different aspects of how autism affects our lives. Typically, I am a straightforward reader. I don't skip around in books, but with RKS, I find that one can do that easily. I even found myself doing so a few times. Maybe today you need a dose of hope, so you might skip to reading chapter 9-Hopes and Expectations-where there are 13 stories there waiting to fill you up with inspiration. Or, maybe you're having a day where you feel like you're struggling, and need to know you're not alone you might thumb to chapter 3- Challenges.
This is where my review is going to get a little more personal.
This book is full of diversity, and with diversity comes differing viewpoints. I admit that there were some stories included that I could not identify with. Some so strongly so, that I could not even finish reading them. But, I found that I could just move on, because just like everyday life, we will run into people that we don't like, or may not agree with. This book isn't meant to convey what it's like to live on the spectrum, but rather what it feels like to parent a child on the autism spectrum. From parenting the severely autistic nonverbal child, to the child with Asperger's these are the parent's stories, and while I would like to claim space in that area alone, I cannot. True, I am a parent of children with both of those types of autism, but I am also a person on the spectrum as well. This colors the lens in which I view the world of autism. I can't know what it feels like to be a 'typical' parent dealing with the pressures of an autistic child. Living with autism in my household is like living in my natural habitat. Sometimes, the atmosphere gets a little testy, but all in all I am at ease with the way things are. I don't need a lot of inspiration as much as I need information. While I found solace in learning about autism other parents find it in the sharing of experiences of others who are in their shoes. Both are valid, and both can be found in this book. At the end of the book there is a handy little reference guide to learn more about the contributors including how, and where to contact them. This might be especially useful for parents of young autistic children that might wish to connect with someone who has experience with a child like theirs.
*Chicken Soup for the Soul- FB
*Chicken Soup for the Soul-site
* Raising Kids on the Spectrum- Amazon
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