Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs

Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations - Judy Winter

I see that several other folks have decided to alliterate and have declared this month Non-fiction November and are using this month as a goad to put down the seductive novels and make time for the non-fiction on their shelves. While I am not planning to spend November only reading and reviewing non-fiction, I’ve a number of non-fiction titles that have been languishing on my TBR shelf, so am focusing on them for my next few print books.


Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs was written in 2006 and is a bit of a paradox. On the one hand, it is filled with solid tips on how to become an Increasingly Empowered Parent and challenges you to see your child with disabilities as a person first. It emphasizes that your child’s life is worth celebrating and that you should set optimistic expectations. It acknowledges the stages from grief to acceptance (and sometimes back to grief – especially in cases where the child dies – as happened to Judy’s son Eric) that often come when you discover your child has a disability. It provides a solid blueprint of the stages from early intervention through elementary and high school to transition and adulthood with reference lists to reputable online resources for additional information.


On the other hand, I almost returned an unread book to the library in disgust because the example of a successful parent in the first chapter perpetuates the myth of autistic children as being “unable to form meaningful relationships” and because it uses the out-of-date concept that if you miss early developmental windows that you are sunk “chipping away at granite at age 10” because you missed “writing in sand at age 2.” I was disconcerted that despite an entire chapter titled “No Labels, Yes Hope” with a solid sidebar about proper language use, the case studies/personal examples are full of terms like “low-functioning autism” and “has the mental capabilities of a five year old child.” Other case studies read distressingly like inspiration porn.


I found Breakthrough Parenting with Special Needs was a good book to skim, and a book that would be a better place for a new parent to start than many books about raising children with disabilities, but feel no desire to add it to the sources I reference regularly.


P.S.  Based on her book, I think Judy Winter would be a powerful speaker, and I hope to eventually get a chance to hear her in person.