28 March 2009

Helping Children With Complex Needs Bounce Back

The Bottom Line
By Kim Aumann and Angie Hart; 223 pages. Subtitle: Resilient Therapy™ for Parents and Professionals.
What makes a child resilient? How can we help our challenged children find a happy life, and maybe grab a little bit of that for ourselves? Resilient Therapy™ seeks to identify the elements that lead to resiliency in children and adults, and teach parents how to pass those on. For those stuck in despair, it's a cheerful helping hand; but if you've been adjusting to your child's challenges all along, it may serve as nothing more than an encouraging pat on the back.

A positive look at parenting children with complex special needs. Offers a useful way to think about resilience, and foster it. Also takes into account parents' needs for resilience, and helps them get some. Permission given to skip whatever parts of the book are not useful to you
Exercises throughout help you apply the advice given

Like the critics mentioned at the end of the book, I wouldn't call this "therapy". Much of this you may already know -- though it's never bad to have a reminder. If your child is very challenging or you feel very challenged, this may be easier read than done

Chapter 1: Basics
Chapter 2: Belonging
Chapter 3: Learning
Chapter 4: Coping
Chapter 5: Core Self
Chapter 6: Let's Get Real - It's Tough But So Are You

Guide Review - Book Review: Helping Children With Complex Needs Bounce Back
Here's a nice surprise I got while reading Helping Children With Complex Needs Bounce Back: Though I'd never heard of "Resilient Therapy" before picking up this book, it turns out I've been doing it all along. Whether that means this therapy is really just a collection of common-sense wisdom about pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, or that I'm intuitively brilliant at special-needs parenting, I can't say -- I'd tend toward the latter, don't you know, but I rather suspect the former is more like it.

If you've found a way to be happy, and raise happy kids, despite significant challenges, this book may feel like a confirmation of everything you've ever figured out, and that's got to feel good. You may even pick up a few more tips and ideas along the way. The book is probably more useful, though, for parents who know they have to pull themselves out of basic survival mode but don't know how to do it. The authors are cheerful and friendly, the text is easy to read and structured so that you can easily skip over parts that don't interest, and the advice is solid and helpful. There are exercises to help you think through how the suggestions will work in your family, and encouraging quotes from families who have put them into practice.

Though the title says it's about helping children, the book puts at least as much emphasis on helping parents learn how to bounce back. That seems right, in a "put your oxygen mask on first so you can put your child's on" in a sort of way. But also, I suspect that many parents of children with special needs marvel at how much more resilient their kids are than they themselves feel. Since your child's unlikely to explain it all for you, this book steps in.

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