Title: The Special Parents Handbook
Author: Yvonne Newbold
Publisher: Amity Books, 2014
Reviewer: Rebecca Myatt, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust
What was it like?
Yvonne Newbold is the mother of three children with special needs, so she has first-hand experience of the joy and frustrations involved in everyday life. This short but eloquent book starts chronologically, “Getting the bad news, Dealing with emotions, Understanding the army of professionals” but then progresses to cover areas such as “Your child, dealing with siblings, building a support network, being in hospital” and finally covering the wider issues of social services, education and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). It is a small, concise and easily accessible read.
What were the highlights?
The highlights were the way the author describes situations and ways of dealing with them with great skill and empathy. She is painfully honest and at times incredibly vulnerable but never once expects sympathy. In fact, the positive tone throughout is deeply affecting.
Strengths & weaknesses:
The chapters covering each area are excellent and at the end of each there is a really useful page of Tips, Tricks and Strategies to summarise what has been said and offer suggestions for dealing with similar situations. There are also numerous practical suggestions in bold within certain sections, which cover key questions and suggestions for making life easier
Who should read it?
The author states that she was trying to write the book she wishes she had been given after the diagnosis of her first child. As the mother of a boy with special needs, I can attest that she has done a fantastic job. This book fills an enormous gap in the market and will be an invaluable resource for anyone caring for a child with a disability. It is also small enough to pick up and read during another interminable wait for an appointment.
Those with a professional involvement in this area would learn a great deal in regard to the lived experience of coping with this situation. It is accessible enough for any member of the hospital team and offers tremendous insights into how appointments, hospital visits and life in general can be made easier and how little thought and minimal adjustments can make a significant difference to the parent and the child at the heart of the experience.