Today I’m sharing 5 books on my reading list that help me understand my kids better. With summer approaching, I’m making my poolside reading list for professional development. Having an understanding of how our kids’ minds work is so important. We are able to give them grace and help strengthen their weaknesses. For Autism, I enjoy hearing from autistic adults because they are who my son will be in 10 years. Hearing from parents who have successfully raised challenging children gives me hope to stay the course parenting and homeschooling my out of the box kids. I don’t need research to tell me being outdoors is beneficial to kids-my kids show me that they know that instinctively-but seeing the research reminds me of the unseen value of all the mud they track in the house afterwards.
Sensational Kids by Lucy Jane Miller, PhD, OTR
Sensational Kids was the first book I ever read on Sensory Processing Disorder. I had never heard of it until the Occupational Therapist mentioned it after our first evaluation. This book was easy to understand and had checklists to help me understand my child better. It also helped me investigate my child to see if he was a seeker or avoider, and it suggested activities we could do at home to help both. We began implementing some of the suggestions to make our home more sensory friendly right away. I highly recommend this book for any newly diagnosed family as a first read or anyone whose kids are off the wall and if you suspect sensory issues could be at play. It has been a good foundation for our family’s understanding. I browsed it again recently to get some new ideas for our new stage as an older child needing regulation.
Look Me in the Eye by John Elder Robison
It’s one thing to be reading what the professionals say about a diagnosis. It’s a different thing to read the personal experience of someone who lived the diagnosis. Robison was diagnosed with Autism (formerly classified as Asperger’s) as an adult. He has written 4 books on his experiences. Look Me in the Eye is his memoir of his childhood. He was aware he was different from his peers, but didn’t understand why until much later. Through his experiences you can see both the strengths and difficulties of being Autistic. As a high-schooler he was able to excel professionally at sound engineering, but the classroom was a place of torture. Being ignorant of his autism as a youth and young adult you can see how it shaped his choices and decisions. It gives hope and understanding to me as a parent that my child will find his own path in the world, it just may look completely different than the standard one. Autism is not a life sentence, it’s just a different life.
The Whole Brain Child by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson
This book was recommended to me by a friend. Its written by a pair of professionals on the neuroscience of children’s brains, but in a surprisingly readable and easy to understand fashion. I listened to the audiobook of this one while my husband was reading the hard copy. Only after the fact did I realize there were comic illustrations included when I only heard dialogue. The Whole Brained Child helped us validate some of the techniques that we intuitively used in our parenting and gave us a few ideas to try in the future. We were able to understand the value of talking through trauma with our kids as a way to help them process it, even if it feels to us like they won’t stop talking about it. We saw this with our move 2 years ago: we talked about it for months before it happened, and then it seemed like we continued talking about it for months after. The writers helped us see that the reassurance we offered each time helped our kids adjust to the new home and grieve what they left behind as memories.
Different by Sally and Nathan Clarkson
Reading Different gives me hope for the future. Sally Clarkson is a mother to four grown children and veteran writer of many parenting and homeschool books. She wrote this book with her son Nathan, her most challenging child, at his request. Together they share his life story and the challenges he faced from both points of view. Hearing both sides of their experiences inspires me to continue to listen first to my differently wired kids and trust that they really will be successful with our help and support.
How to Raise a Wild Child by Scott Sampson
As a fan of Dinosaur Train on PBS it was fun to discover this book at a gift shop on one of our Junior Ranger adventures. The title intrigued me and I added to my reading list. In How to Raise a Wild Child Sampson shares 10 secrets to being a nature mentor without having a wealth of nature knowledge yourself. With easy suggestions about finding nature in your backyard and taking time to slow down and look for it. This book also inspired us to forgo the traditional swing-set and instead build a “Playscape” in our backyard. Using logs and loose parts to provide outdoor play inspiration more than a structured swing set. He shares studies that say the loose parts and natural play environment inspires kids to use them to an older age and more creatively. With the sensory needs of our kids, having a place to run and jump and climb is crucial.
What books are on your summer reading list?