Gary Shulman, MS. Ed.
Special Needs Consultant and Trainer
It was with a tear in my eye and a lump in my throat that I turned the last page of this remarkable testament to the resiliency of parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders to rebound from various stages of grief to a place high atop a “mountain of acceptance” of the very wonderful skills, abilities, talents and passions of their children with special needs. I found this “Life-Guide” to be profound in its simplicity. As an advocate for parents of children with disabilities as well as a special needs trainer for many years, I found myself taken to a special place in my heart and soul that I have often visited, but will now visit much more often. It is a place of compassion and non-judgmental support for parents, siblings, grandparents, friends, extended family members, teachers and therapists who are all part of the team of cheer leaders for the child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Deanna Picon uses many concrete examples, stories, wise sayings and a very well organized road map to lead parents toward a place where life becomes more “normalized”. It is a life that has been taken back from the chaos, guilt, confusion and bereavement that parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other disabilities often experience. She provides suggestions through analogies that everyone can easily comprehend and relate to regardless of your relationship to a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder or to the family.
Ms. Picon constantly reminds us that the label of disability tells us very little about the person behind the label. Joy comes once that child is embraced as any child is embraced and loved just for who he or she is. She reminds us that we all have our own “quirks”. It’s part of the fabric that makes this world a more interesting place.
Ms. Picon often reminds parents that deep, profound emotions will be felt. Hate, anger, grief, depression, loneliness are all par for the course on this journey toward acceptance. With compassion in her heart that can only come from raising a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, she gives permission to parents to acknowledge the hate for the diagnosis of Autism while also acknowledging that the “Autism” is not the child. Love the child and hate the diagnosis of the Autism! This will give catharsis. Any parent reading this manual of hope will come away not only with a simple battle plan to deal with strengthening the family unit but also a strategy to extend your support system to involve a wider network of friends, family members and professionals. I particularly liked how this book encourages parents to take back the joy in their lives-to make time to just be yourself and live life with gusto.
This book should be mandatory reading for all parents and professionals impacted by a child with Autism Spectrum Disorders or for that matter, with any disability. It is the battle-plan leading to a place of sanity and joy that every family needs while supporting all their children. As a professional, I was reminded that my support is indeed invaluable to parents of children with disabilities, but perhaps even more important is my compassion and understanding for the stages all parents of children with disabilities must go through in order to arrive at a place of joy and acceptance.
I highly recommend this wonderful reflection of Deanna Picon’s mind, heart and soul to all families and professionals seeking to find a balance in life while meeting the needs of a child with a disability. It lifted my spirits in a very profound way.