No matter where you are on your special needs journey; it is reassuring to know that you are not alone. When I teach parents how to advocate for their special needs children, I tell them not to overlook the best resource – other parents.
Parents of children with special need wrote most of these eight books. Reading these books lets you learn from the experience of other parents. The stories offer reassurance and guidance. This list is not intended as an academic list of books providing medical and technical information, although some books touch on these topics.
If you’ve read these or any other books, I’d love to hear your thoughts and recommendations.
1. The Special Needs Parent Handbook Critical Strategies and Practical Advice to Help You Survive and Thrive (2nd Edition)
Jonathan L Singer, the father of a disabled child, writes this handbook. It addresses practical topics such as planning for the future, finding babysitters, inclusion and advocating for your children.
2. Shut Up About Your Perfect Kid: A Survival Guide for Ordinary Parents of Special Children
Two sisters, Patty Konjoian and Gina Gallagher, wrote this book about their experiences as parents of children with special needs. They share their frustrations, challenges they faced and strategies that worked for them.
3. Chicken Soup for the Soul: Children with Special Needs: Stories of Love and Understanding for Those Who Care for Children with Disabilities
Written by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Heather McNamara
This book compiles stories from parents raising children with special needs. The book divides the stories into categories including adjusting, milestones, sibling revelry and fostering independence.
4. Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy – The Special Education Survival Guide
Written by Pamela Wright and Peter Wright
The Wrightslaw team provide another excellent resource for special needs parents. The book is not light reading, but it provides lots of useful information for special needs parents. It includes information on advocacy, assessment tests, organizing your children’s information, tactics and strategies and special education law. Although the emphasis is on special education law in the United States, much of the information applies wherever you live.
5. Understanding Your Child’s Sensory Signals
Written by Angie Voss
The author is an occupational therapist who specializes in sensory issues. This handbook lists over 200 sensory behaviors, explains what they mean and gives strategies for addressing them.
6. Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations
Written by Judy Winter
This book encourages parents of children with special needs to focus on the positive, on ability instead of disability. It helps parents help their children achieve their potential. It includes inspirational stories from other parents, practical parenting advice and resources.
7. Thinking Differently: An Inspiring Guide for Parents of Children with Learning Disabilities
Written by David Flink
The author of this book, David Flink, has a unique insight into learning disabilities as he has ADHD and dyslexia. It helps parents understand the learning process and explains strategies to help children with special needs learn. The book provides advocacy tips for parents, self-advocacy tips for kids, discusses testing and special education.
8. The Elephant in the Playroom: Ordinary Parents Write Intimately and Honestly About Raising Kids with Special Needs
Written by Denise Brodey
Written by the mother of a boy with special needs, this book features honest accounts from parents who faced the challenges of raising a child with special needs. The essays explore a variety of issues such as sleeping problems, grief over medicating children, toilet training and dealing with friends who don’t understand your parenting style.