There are lots of books out there to help when caring for someone with
learning disability. To help you find out which ones are best, our Netbuddy review panel have been hard at work on some of the latest releases.
The Daily Journal of Arabella Crumblestone by Sharon King
Review by Marie Murphie: Mum to six-year old Matty with Autism
This is the story of Arabella Crumblestone, a
tiny stone faerie, and her exciting adventures beyond the wall she calls home.
When Arabella takes her first brave steps into a strange new world, she meets
George and Faith, and together they begin a journey that changes them in ways
they could never imagine!
The subject matter of disability and autism is handled delicately with subtle references throughout. The perspective of both siblings and parents is well balanced and handled sensitively. As the mother of a child on the spectrum I could relate to the worries, hopes and fears of Faith's mother.
The journal format is really what makes this book - it is ideal for younger and adult readers alike as it is easy to read in bite-size portions if you prefer. However, I think that once you pick up this book you won't want to put it down!
The book is beautifully written and the illustrations have been lovingly hand drawn by the author’s daughter Rose. It is one of the best books I have read in a long time and I would recommend to both children and adults alike.
Netbuddy rating: 4/5
Flying to see Janet by Laura Vickers
Review by parents at the Pathways 4 All Pop In Session
On the whole we found the book very busy with illustrations and colour and we felt that the detail was too specific to the two American airports and the journey as in the visit to McDonald’s. It was felt that children reading the book would expect that they would be visiting McDonald’s too if ever going to the airport! The text was very wordy and very ‘American’ with lots of ‘local’ dialect.
The concept of a book about any journey timeline was seen as a good idea but not in this format.
Our group thought that a simplified version of the procedure which happens in most airports around the world would be more beneficial - it would be good for all children with special needs rather than just those with autism. The book would be better with clearer pictures or photos, using symbols and commonly used words to help with the explanation of the journey.
Netbuddy rating: 1/5
Raising Children with Asperger's Syndrome and High -Functioning Autism by Yuko Yoshida
Review by Jo Worgan: Mum to Stephen, 6 and Tom, 4 who has ASD
The author is a practicing psychiatrist specialising in child psychiatry, she currently works in Japan where she specialises in the diagnosis and treatment of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), she has over 25 years of clinical experience and this is clearly evident when reading the book. The only negative that I have about this book is that, due to the fact that it has a Japanese author, all points of reference in the book are about Japanese culture and Japanese services, which in itself does not detract from the book but I would have found it useful and indeed more relevant at times if Western approaches had been included. However, this book is still an excellent resource and provides lots of information and practical ideas.
The writing style of the book is very simplistic and uses easy to read language, this I very much appreciated as sometimes when reading a book that is packed with useful information it simply cannot be read as you cannot get past all of the mediatised jargon. I found it to be very readable and most importantly enjoyable and I gained lots of knowledge and practical information about how to help my young son. All of this vast information and knowledge is presented in a very readable and down to earth way. I highly recommend it.
Netbuddy rating: 5/5
Understanding Cerebral Palsy by Marion Stanton
Review by Kathy Standing: Short-break foster carer looking after kids with complex needs
I was excited when I saw this, as I had read Marion's previous work (The Cerebral Palsy Handbook) and I was a bit disappointed when I realised this is pretty much an updated version. But, it's a good book which provides a great introduction to cerebral palsy, explaining what all the confusing medical terms mean, and answering lots of questions including those I had never thought to ask! Its great knowing that Marion is a parent of a young person with cerebral palsy, so it makes it easier to accept what she says - though she is quite balanced and takes into account that every disabled child and their family are different.
The book covers a wide range of subjects, including development, therapy, education and social care. Some things are mentioned fairly briefly, but it's a good overview and starting point for learning about cerebral palsy. As you would expect, it focuses mainly on this condition, and as the carer for children who also have complex care needs I see it as a useful tool but not a definitive guide.
Netbuddy rating: 3/5
The Unfinished Stories by Sharon King
Review by Martine d'Ellard: Mum to an autistic son and works at an arts organisation for autistic children
This book is set in a house that shape-shifts – from the number of windows to a disappearing ladder leading up to an attic room. Only Lesley Benedict seems to notice this, but fearless and ever-practical, she takes it in her stride. She is staying there with her family after the death of her grandfather.
In the attic Lesley finds the “Queen of Dreams” - an imposing woman who explains that grandfather had tried and failed to finish a number of stories. She gives Lesley the task of completing the stories, but doesn’t hold out much hope – after all Lesley, at 12, can barely read or write and avoids storytime with her annoying little cousins. It’s only when she gets to know Stephen, a ghost-boy “who’s only friend is his shadow” that things all start to fall into place.
The author has children on the autistic spectrum and her experience informs the character of Stephen, who sometimes forgets to put his shoes on, prefers things to people and is bullied by his teacher. He is in the habit of shouting “Panic!” and putting his hands over his ears; he “doesn’t like adventures – he’s not that kind of boy!” Lesley encourages him to believe in himself and think of all the things he is good at. Together they finish Stephen’s story and several others along the way, enlisting the help of the cousins who turn out to be not so annoying after all.
Netbuddy rating: 4/5
From grief to celebration by Margaret Bender
Review by John Tithe, father of 24 year old Ben who has Downs Syndrome
A really good read – an honest, uplifting and helpful book about a family’s journey raising a child with Downs Syndrome. It takes you through the family's struggles and acceptance but also the happy times and I could relate to my own experiences.
The section on siblings experience was particularly interesting and gave me some good pointers.
This book is easy and quick to read – it’s a good size, just the right length and not too long.
I’d definitely recommend this book.
Netbuddy rating: 4/5