This is a list…only a partial one at that of the books and websites that I have helped me over the years as we struggled to find secure footing in this bright, beautiful, wonderful world of neurodivergence…autism, Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA), dyslexia, dyspraxia, and LIFE.
Yes, I have spent a small fortune on books. Sometimes money I did not have. But it has been worth it. I have though given you a bit of a heads up with summaries and reviews of my favs.
I hope that you will find things here that will challenge you and help you to find your way along this path we call life…to make it better and happier for you…and especially your child.
Goddess bless, keep and guide you on your path.
Lives in the Balance is Dr. Ross Greene’s website. Most of the resources here are FREE. And there are so many of them that I have not even scratched the surface myself. He does podcasts with Q&A, he puts all of the forms he used in his book The Explosive Child on there, and just about everything you need to work his program. But his book still makes my list of top resources as all that information is more organized, easier to access, and just flows.
PDA Society website makes my tops of list too. It truly does have EVERYTHING you need to know to manage your child with Pathological Demand Avoidance. I especially recommend their self-assessment. It can be virtually impossible to get the PDA diagnosis, but that is less important than the parenting strategies that will help your child and family to handle things better. For me…those strategies are just the start though. We have pushed those limits and beyond.
When it comes to PDA of course it is worth looking at the original work on it…Understanding Pathological Demand Avoidance by Phil Christie, et al. BUT 1) this book is written by professionals for professionals…doctors, SENCos, and the like. It is NOT an easy read though it does have one, yes 1, chapter just for parents. And 2) this is the book that sent me into tears and caused me to pledge my life to ensuring that PanKwake did NOT turn out like the stories in it. So yes, it is depressing and disheartening. But realize that this was written early in this journey before much was known about PDA and those kids that they followed into adulthood did not have you or me for parents. So take it for what it is…but be prepared for more than one good cry.
Jane Sherwin wrote the second book on PDA…well, she PUBLISHED the second one anyway. I still have an unpublished one that she and I have not compared notes to see who wrote what first. My Daughter Is Not Naughty is better and more hopeful than the Christie one…but it still diverges from my own philosophy of PDA. Like the society website, I do not think it goes far enough. Oh, it has all the strategies right…but for me it is about changing hearts and attitudes. It is about embracing the beauty and splendor of PDA and autism…
And that is found in a new movement called #neurodivergence. I have just begun to read the best known book on that subject, Neurotribes, and while I do like it…I admit to having a problem with the fact that it is second hand knowledge by a neurotypical journalist, who can never truly understand what it is like to be neurodivergent…he is not even the parent of a ND child. So for that reason…take it for what it is…spit and chew.
Which leads me to a couple of theories worth Googling and researching more for yourself…
The Social Model of Disability
If that is not enough…here are a few more books and concepts for you to explore…
The Edison Gene: ADHD and the Gift of the Hunter Child by Thom Hartmann – even if your child does NOT have ADHD, you may benefit from this book which challenges our perceptions of the evolutionary advantages of certain ‘conditions’.
Sensory Processing Disorder – I read many of the ones on this list. And took bits and pieces from most of them. Honestly, I spit and chewed with them so much that I digested it all. Addressing sensory issues became our primary strategy for coping with the challenging side of PDA/autism/neurodivergence…and it worked. For us anyway. None of them especially stand out to me now…and most of them are highly technical. So be prepared to wade through them…but they are well worth the effort. Of course, one of the first and best known is The Out-of-Sync Child by Carol Stock Kranowitz.
Of course, who better to listen to when it comes to raising your neurodivergent child than #actuallyautistic adults. They have the inside scope that ‘experts’ never will. Here are a couple of my fav blogs/vlogs…
If you are an adult facing those challenging aspects of your gifts…or a parent who is struggling to see your child’s neurodivergence as the gift it is, then here are some books and coping strategies on life that I have found useful…
Dialectical Behavior Therapy has some wonderful coping strategies for managing distress. Of all my time in therapy…this was the only one that proved effective with me. While it is not easily accessed on NHS, there are many resources out there for self-help. Key strategies that I have found really useful are… helping others, realizing that as bad as your situation is others do have it worse, and prioritizing…is this a hill worth dying on.
Speaking of self help books…my bible has been Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. And WishCraft by Barbara Sher…which is FREE to read online.
As for home education…
John Holt’s books Teach Your Own, How Children Learn and Escape from Childhood are classics. In the 21st century, Holt’s mantle and ‘unschooling’ work has been expanded and rebranded as Self Directed Education/Learning by Dr. Peter Gray. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of articles on the subject that are free by following that link to his Psychology Today profile. He has also authored my favorite book on the subject, Free to Learn. Although he has stepped down from its board, Dr. Gray was instrumental in founding The Alliance for Self-Directed Education. It’s website has loads of free articles. But you can unlock even more by becoming a member for a modest monthly fee. It is definitely the second place to look (after this one, of course). You might also consider another blog by the mother of a neurodivergent young person pursuing self-directed learning; A Place on the Hill by Esther Jones.
As for books specific to autism and home education …Paths Are Made By Walking: Home Educating Our Autistic Spectrum Children. Though this book is not specific to self-directed learning.
I am also fascinated by implications for home educating of Ted Prize Award winner and Newcastle University professor Sugata Mitra. His work with Hole in a Wall and School in the Cloud is ground breaking in terms of transforming how we see children’s learning and how they teach one another.
That should be enough to get you started with some serious Spit and Chew. I will try to add more as I come across truly remarkable resources.