By Eileen Riley-Hall ©2012.
Parents of girls on the autism spectrum often wish their daughters were celebrated for their talents, rather than discouraged for their differences. They recognize that their daughter's unique natures may make them distinctive in some ways, but resent labels such as 'disabled' and 'disorder' being applied to their daughters.
Parenting Girls on the Autism Spectrum: Overcoming the Challenges and Celebrating the Gifts is a celebration of all the wonderful and unexpected gifts that having daughters on the autism spectrum can bring to your life. Each chapter explores a topic of concern, offering encouragement and guidance on common issues such as school, friendships, meltdowns, special gifts, family relationships, therapies and interventions. Having daughters on the spectrum presents unique and rewarding challenges and Parenting Girls on the Autism Spectrum is packed with friendly advice and real life examples from a mother who has experienced it all first hand.
The hopeful perspective given in this book is guaranteed to offer much appreciated comfort to parents, grandparents and family members. It will provide educators and anyone who cares for girls on the spectrum with an insight into what life is like for these extraordinary girls and their parents. (Softcover; 254 pages.)
Eileen Riley Hall is the mother of two daughters on the spectrum, and also a high school English teacher who works with both neurotypical and developmentally disabled students. Her easy-to-read book speaks with the voice of experience.
This book is an excellent primer for parents (grandparents, etc.) of newly-diagnosed girls. It functions as sort of an "Autism 101" class starting with the most basic information - a definition of spectrum disorders. One of the most useful chapters is simply titled "Education"; it explains in simple step-by-step fashion what to expect in terms of IEPs, preschool, grade school, various behavioral therapies, etc. Other chapters outline many of the most well-known support and advocacy organizations, as well as giving a brief explanation of some of the controversies surrounding the rise in autism (possible vaccine connection, etc.) Not surprisingly, much of the information applies equally to boys. But Riley-Hall does a good job of explaining why she feels that spectrum-diagnosed girls have unique problems, primarily due to society's lower tolerance for quirky behavior, acting out, meltdowns, etc. The author believes that society's expectations for girls to be nurturing, chatty, and always in control sets up a guaranteed conflict when autism keeps a girl from communicating. If I have one criticism of the book, it would be the simple fact that the author's daughters are only 12 and 14. Some readers will no doubt be disappointed that the book doesn't deal with high school, hormones, or young adult issues at all. However, as a resource for beginner parents it is excellent.
Reviewed by Kathy Cockrell, Administrative Specialist