(a bit of hard-won freedom/alone time)
Decadence (wafting round town solo with a Starbucks and a couple of bulging shopping bags assuming another identity for a few hours – also having a good long dry of my hands in a public toilet with a powerful hand-dryer after checking there are no potentially noise sensitive ears around of course – I’m not that twisted!)
Anxiety (will they be ok? Is this the right decision/place for them? Will I get a phone call today?)
Fear (what if they catch a bug on the first day back? Break their arm again?)
Longstanding Worry (will they make friends, cope, be happy?)
Sadness (I’m actually missing them! the house is too tidy and quiet)
Pressure (I have a massive to-do list to fruit ninja my way through and only a maximum of 5 1/2 hours to do it ALL!! <hyperventilates>)
Indecision (I’m knackered! Do I rest or get on top of the washing basket?)
Guilt with a fino side of negative self talk (I can’t get back in bed and rest it’s just too lazy. But I’m tired! Don’t be so pathetic and ungrateful think of XYZ)
Frenzied Thinking I should be doing,wearing, trying, emulating that (usually fueled by scrolling through the help and hindrance which is social media)
In a nutshell – too many emotions has made writing about the tough stuff tougher this week so to keep me busy from veering from one to the other of all of the above I thought I would continue my ‘Me,who?‘ series.
My second top ten is about ‘Books‘ and because I didn’t write any of them I can’t get all ‘angsty’ over reviewing them.
I adore reading and love how a book can completely engross and transport you. I usually read horror, crime or psychological thrillers with the occasional autobiography or self-help book thrown in to mix up all the death and terror. However, since L received her autism diagnosis two things have changed;
1. I joined a Book group which has expanded my horizons and
2. I have started to read around the subject vociferously both to find out as much as I can but also because it is so interesting! I have chosen these 10 books as I have read them in the last year and they made an impression on me. They are largely about Autism and Mental Health but come from fictional and non fictional backgrounds. Every day a new book or article comes to my attention and I add it to my mental reading list or save the link and hope to return to it but it doesn’t always happen. My rationale is that these beauties made it through and actually got read so they must be worthy!
Understanding Pathological Demand Avoidance Syndrome in Children by Phil Christie, Margaret Duncan, Ruth Fidler and Zara Healy
This is the ultimate ‘go to’ book when first researching or working with a PDA child.
Read this first if you haven’t already!!
It includes lots of experts in the field discussing PDA and providing examples of clinical case studies – a lot of which rung true for me.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
This book has consistently topped bestseller lists since its release in 2017. In theory it is ‘just another’ account of a lonely singleton who meets a guy and falls in love.
Blah blah blah. Except it isn’t.
Gail Honeyman builds up the mental and emotional picture of Eleanor so exquisitely that you really get inside her mind and are forced to contemplate societies disconnection with each other. Although history and questionable parenting contribute to her demeanor Eleanor is clearly for me one of the ‘undiagnosed’ ASD women walking around seemingly unnoticed.
I can’t wait to read more by this author.
A Boy made of Blocks by Keith Stuart
I am really interested in accounts of autism parenting from a dads point of view. I have followed James Hunt’s ‘Stories About Autism’ for the last few years and found it to be raw, engaging and uplifting. Sometimes dads take a bit of a back seat as blogs/books/support groups are skewed towards a women’s perspective written mainly by women but I find the male perspective so useful and amusing. Stuart writes honestly in a Nick Hornby/Danny Wallace/Graeme Simsion vein about navigating his relationships with his autistic son Sam and wife Jody. A detailed and tear jerking history of discovering and rediscovering each other.
How Are You Feeling Today? by Molly Potter and Sarah Jennings
I have read quite a few books about emotions and feelings aimed towards young children and found a lot to be too wordy, too outdated, for older children or the pictures frankly terrifying but this book is cheerful, informative and one of the only ones which L actually cast an eye over so I’m hoping there might be scope for a re-read in future.
Emotions are listed at the front with a corresponding page number to refer to where a double page spread is dedicated to explaining it and some options to help circumnavigate that feeling such as ‘I’m bored’ and ‘try and copy a picture from a book that you like’. This genre is really starting to grow so I’m hopeful that more books like this will appear soon.
Stuff that Sucks by Ben Sedley
The Reading Well Programme in association with the NHS and a large number of other organisations is a great initiative. It is mainly publicized in libraries and bookshops and includes books about various medical/health issues which have a little round ‘Books on Prescription’ sticker on them. The adult self-help market is gargantuan but the child/teen market is another growth area and some great books are coming through. I read these with the view ‘would they have helped me as a teenager/would it be something I think L would benefit from when she’s older?’
This book is accessible, quick to read, reassuring and in no way preachy. I found it useful myself and think it would help any teen/young person going through anxiety or mental health issues to feel less alone and scared.
Asperger Syndrome (Autism Spectrum Disorder) and Long-term Relationships By Ashley Stanford
If your partner is diagnosed or has a strong possibility that they are on the spectrum then this book is a godsend. Stanford systematically breaks down the diagnostic criteria and then relates it back to real life situations. A whole lot of empathy can be gained from reading this book and identifying or relating to why? why? why? your partner may do the things they do in a relationship and aren’t just purely being annoying.
I read a lot of posts on support groups were the spouse is resistant to changing their parenting style or personalities in the family stoke up drama. It is very possible that ASD has a genetic component so it is worth investigating all sides of the story and using that information to try to forge new ground in relationships sometimes at breaking point. This book helps to start those conversations.
A Mindfulness Guide For The Frazzled by Ruby Wax
My first experience of Mindfulness was a course back in 2011 and it focused far too much on raisins. Eating one mindfully and tapping into all my senses whilst keeping my feet firmly ‘grounded to the floor’. I left feeling a bit cheated that I’d wasted my time buying into the whole thing and put mindfulness firmly on the back burner. However, after becoming a SEN parent I revisited the subject as things had got desperate! Anything was worth a try to feel better! It was one of the first books I read on mindfulness due to it high ratings (always a draw) and still one of my favourites. Wax guides you through her journey which is in part autobiographical, educational and self-help with some humour, exercises and pictures thrown in. If you’re not sure where to start with reading about Mindfulness this is a really good place.
The Explosive Child by Ross W. Greene
This book explores parenting an inflexible, easily frustrated and explosive child. It is very American but don’t let this put you off as the sentiment behind it all – ‘that children do well if they can’ is worth taking a closer look at. It offers explanations and strategies for dealing with problems and can be very useful if your child has/may have PDA.
Beyond Toddlerdom by Dr Christopher Green
I met a wonderful couple this summer who had a grown up son with ASD. Back in the late 90’s the internet wasn’t an effective means of support, reference books were sparser and society was less willing to be compassionate. She told me about this book referencing it as a ‘life saver’, I managed to happen across a copy of it in a charity shop the next week in a weirdly serendipitous moment and took it home to digest. A lot of it is still hugely relevant and it offers a great snapshot in time for all the parents going through an ASD or most likely no ASD diagnosis back then. It is a broad and informative look at parenting as a whole before Supernanny and the Three Day Nanny existed and I’m sure was fundamental to lots of parents.
Raising Martians – From Crash-Landing to Leaving Home by Joshua Muggleton
In my last job I had the opportunity to attend a lecture given by the author of the above book. A self-professed Aspie he eloquently and humorously delivered his talk to a packed theatre before taking questions. I was so enthralled I ordered the book that evening. We see a lot of books geared towards parenting children but honest accounts of living with ASD as an adult and beyond are fairly sparse. This book is part autobiographical and part instructional to help people with ASD navigate a confusing world and professionals to see another side.
There are so many great books out there but it is really hard to find time to sit and read when you are a parent. I’m extremely grateful that I am able to read two or three books a month now however there was a time not so long ago when it took me 6 months to read one. This week alone I have added about five books and six articles to my Facebook saved pages which I hope to return to – it is crazy! Please don’t give up though because reading is so important! <Stands down from soap box>