From the Archives: The Elephant in the Playroom

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Editor’s Note: Several readers have written to me since I wrote my post about Autism Awareness Day, and have asked questions about autism or other special needs. I want to thank you all for reaching out to me (I also want to thank those of you who left such kind comments at the post). I promise I am going to get back to every email as soon as I can. I have a lot of other special needs-related posts floating around in my head, too. I think many of you will find them helpful. In the meantime, I want to recommend The Elephant in the Playroom again. . . it really helped me through some difficult times.

Five-year-old S. is off to a wonderful start at his new school for children with learning disabilities. I have seen so much progress in just a few weeks–he is more confident, independent, and is rapidly acquiring new information and skills (8-year-old R. claims she heard him read several words, and I heard him use the word “impressive” about himself!). At the same time, I am thrilled to have found a community of other parents who are raising children with special needs. Because, as other special needs parents know, it can be feel very isolating when other (mainstream) parents do not understand the extraordinary challenges of everyday life. One mom at S’s school and I were swapping stories and both mentioned how much we loved the book The Elephant in the Playroom: Ordinary Parents Write Intimately and Honestly About Raising Kids with Special Needs. If you are a parent of child with special needs and have not yet read this book, you must do so (plus one other book I’ll recommend soon). And even if you do not have a child with special needs, I think you will find it a valuable read. Numerous parents contribute to the book to discuss the “extraordinary highs and heartbreaking low” (beautifully put) of parenting a child with ADD/ADHD, sensory problems, pediatric mental illness, autism, and physical and learning disabilities, not to mention those children who have multiple diagnoses–or those children who seem to defy any one diagnosis. It speaks with compassion about everything from the difficulties of arranging playdates to the agonizing decision to medicate a child. I especially like the parts that refer to the importance of putting your own “oxygen mask” on yourself (i.e. taking care and time for yourself) so that you can then take care of your special needs child. I’ve learned this lesson myself in a major way. Buy yourself (or a friend) the book for $11.20 at

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3 Responses to From the Archives: The Elephant in the Playroom

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  3. Cintya says:

    – MWAH!!!!!! I really feel so bseelsd by your friendship, Sara-Anne. It lifts me up and empowers me!! You’re right. I do want you to succeed and I don’t feel any angst about us working the same market at all. It’s a beautiful thing!! Thank you for having me at the workshop. It was so much fun to see everyone at work after the shoot. You really have a talented group!!April 21, 2012 9:11 am

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