Letters to the Home Front

Positive Thoughts and Ideas for Parents Bringing Up Children with Developmental Disabilities, Particularly those with an Autism Spectrum Disorder

Bringing up a child with developmental disabilities, especially autism, presents many challenges for parents, and the focus of attention is almost invariably on the child. This practical and compassionate book looks at a range of issues from the parents' point of view - from whether their child really loves them, to challenging received wisdom on matters such as sensory integration and boarding school. The author's many decades of experience of working with families provide the basis for this practical support and help in thinking about and approaching some of the most difficult and intractable issues.

One, often unvoiced, concern for parents is whether their children love or care about them. The first section of the book consists of three letters from young people to their parents, showing clearly that though they may never have been able to say so directly, they do love and appreciate their parents, and what they have done for them - a strong message for all parents in a similar situation. Clements goes on to look at how the parenting agenda changes over time, how to see beyond the diagnoses and the constant need to deal with immediate problems, to see the real people who make up the family, the impact on siblings, how to manage the system and the multiple professional agencies over long periods of time, and how to think about the offer of medication to control behaviour. An important section addresses some of the most distressing behavioural challenges: physical aggression, verbal abuse, long-term severe self-injury, property damage, and obsessions. Finally, Clements offers objective and open-minded reflections on received wisdom about two other unchallenged topics - sensory integration, and the usefulness or otherwise of boarding schools.

The book is practical, compassionate, and above all, useful. It will be of ongoing use to parents, and equally useful to professionals working with families encountering the issues covered.
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