FCSN // Newsletter // 2014 // April 2014 // Book Reviews

Book Reviews

How to Make and Keep Friends: Helping Your Child Achieve Social Success

(originally published as How to Make & Keep Friends: Coaching Children for Social Success)
Donna Shea and Nadine Briggs,
Createspace 2010. 138 pp.
Reviewed by Dorothy Robison, Parent of three young adults, two of whom have Intellectual Disabilities.

book_2How to Make and Keep Friends: Helping Your Child Achieve Social Success is a guide for parents or caregivers of children with challenges making and keeping friends. The book is full of suggestions and examples for children with special needs who find it hard to progress socially. All parents want to experience the joy of seeing their child playing with a pal in the neighborhood, or watching them go off to play at the home of a friend from school. Unfortunately, this is a difficult area of growth for many children.

How to Make & Keep Friends includes examples of children with social challenges. This is followed by clear ideas for talking children through these issues and reaching the goal of meaningful social interaction. The authors describe a child who is shy and how this presents a “barrier” to friendship. A simple explanation of why shyness is so difficult for a child is followed by “coaching suggestions.” Shea and Briggs suggest it is important to reassure the child that they will not be forced to participate until they are ready. The authors list common feelings extremely shy children experience in stressful social situations: “lump in throat,” “stomachache,” “dizziness,” “nauseous.” This reminds the reader it is important to pause before asking a child to enter a social situation they find uncomfortable.

The book addresses topics such as, “Preparing for Playdates, Social Events & Life Changes,” “Playdate Reciprocation (or lack thereof,)” and, “When a Child is Excluded.” Included is a “Real Friends Checklist,” which can be used to figure out if a relationship is a true friendship. Strategies include how adults can talk to a child about improving his or her voice modulation, dealing with feeling left out, and expressing feelings so they can be an independent voice on the playground. No matter how many ideas parents have to help their child, more is always useful. How to Make & Keep Friends is loaded with information parents can turn to daily and can be hugely helpful no matter what the age of the child.

Editor’s Note: How to Make and Keep Friends: Coaching Children for Social Success is being renamed How to Make and Keep Friends: Helping Your Child Achieve Social Success and will be available for purchase on Amazon.com in the coming weeks.

Lucky Dogs, Lost Hats, and Dating Don’ts

Thomas Fish, Ph.D. & Jillian Ober, M.A., CRC, Woodbine House 2012. 215 pp.
Reviewed by Amanda McClafferty*

book_1The book Lucky Dogs, Lost Hats, and Dating Don’ts by Thomas Fish Ph. D and Jillian Ober M.A. is a book with 12 short stories about people with and without disabilities. I really like this book as it is easy to read and comprehend. In my opinion it is a brilliant and spectacular piece of literature that provides motivation for people with physical ailments, learning disorders, social emotional disabilities, and a broad range of people on the Autism spectrum.

My favorite story in this book is “Adventures in Camping”. The story is about four people on a camping trip. Two people on the trip have Down Syndrome. The reason I like this story so much is because it portrays people with Down Syndrome to be just like any other person. The four main characters are Hank, Holly, Jessica, and John. Hank and Holly are both twenty-one years old and have been dating since high school. Jessica is a twenty-two year old woman, and John is twenty-one. They both have Down Syndrome. Jessica and John met at a park while participating in a walk to raise money for Down Syndrome. They exchanged phone numbers two days after the walk, and Jessica soon asked John if he wanted to go feed the ducks at the park, what time they should go, and if he would be her boyfriend!

I also enjoyed another story entitled “Road Trip.” Out of all the stories in the book, I could relate to this story the most. The story was about two brothers named Damon (21), and Marcus (22). They were going to New York City to visit friends. On the way to New York City, Marcus who has diabetes, had gotten a headache, which then turned into a seizure. (I have had seizures before). Damon got really scared and called 911. The 911 Operator reassured Damon that Marcus would be okay. The ambulance came quickly, and brought Marcus to the hospital. Luckily, he recovered quickly, and Damon promised that he would get Marcus back to New York City soon.

Overall, I could really relate to most of the stories in this book. It made me think about my own disabilities and how I could benefit from learning and understanding the fact that there are people in this world that have it worse that I do, and that I should be more accepting of others as well as myself.

*Amanda McClafferty is a 17 year old girl from Massachusetts. She enjoys reading, writing, music, movies, joke telling, and spending time with her family. Amanda has hydrocephalus, left sided hemiplegia, low vision, depression, seizure disorder, ADHD, and NVLD – but she thinks that the first sentence of this author description is the most important part.