Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew by Ellen Notbohm: A Book Review

One of my personal goals this year is to spend more time trying to understand autism and dyslexia, the two issues that are relevant to our family.

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To start this venture, I checked out the audio book, Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew by Ellen Notbohm.  I wanted to love this book, but I had mixed feelings about it.

In some ways, this book shared eye opening information and attitudes with me.  I appreciated her conversation about sensory issues, especially since one of our children is VERY hard to buy clothes for because this child has such strong sensory issues.  I myself have an aversion to strong smells like scented soap and laundry detergent, so that helped me to relate what children with sensory issues are going through daily.

I also appreciated hearing about the author’s son Bryce’s journey and his success–he could ride public transportation on his own at age 15, and he graduated valedictorian of his high school class.  He is now living independently.

However, there was a lot I didn’t like about the book, too.  For instance, Notbohm states that she decided when her son was very young to take him out of all therapy.  I think this can be a cavalier thing to say because those listening might think it’s wise to take their kids out of therapy.  I know without therapy, our family wouldn’t even be functional.

While Notbohm did a good job explaining the struggles she had with the school system, I think she comes from a unique view.  When she was signing her son up for elementary school, she got bad vibes that they saw Bryce as not capable of being independent later, so she researched school districts within a 25 mile radius, found the best one, and she and her family moved into that district.  Not every family will be able to do that.

I didn’t think that Notbohm did a good job explaining the struggles that she went through with her son, Bryce.  She briefly mentions meltdowns, but she doesn’t mention how disturbing they can be to family life.  She did chastise parents who express their frustration and grief over not having the child they had dreamed of, but she did very little to sympathize with the every day struggles.

Finally, I don’t know if it’s the tone of the book or the tone of the narrator, but this audio book often felt very condescending to me.  It could just be the way the narrator read it; I don’t know, but it rubbed me the wrong way.

I give this book 3 out of 5 stars on the Mom’s Plans’ scale.

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