Making a difficult life simple for special children
Reviewed by Chandni S Chandel

Parenting Your Complex Child 
By Peggy Lou Morgan. Indiana 
Publishing House. Pages 183. $16.95

No teacher, no doctor, no book can teach you parenting unless you do not become a mother yourself, they say. The author rightly puts her mentorís quote aptly right in the beginning "If only the world could understand you through yourís Momís ears and eyes", which can be a motivating force for you and your special-needs child. This book offers disciplined and inexpensive ways of dealing with a special-needs child, suffering from autism, Down Syndrome, ADHD, bipolar disorder, etc. Morganís book is a handy help book for all mothers as she shares first-hand experience of rearing a child with multiple or single disorders.

Before adopting a 15-month-old disabled son, she had prior experience of working with complex children. She offers sure-shot, self-researched and self-practised ways and means of dealing with complex children. She strikes an emotional chord with the parents by advocating to read the psychological need of a child and dealing with it accordingly.

Morgan offers solutions to problems like how do you deal with a childís power struggle in public with you. Make a child aware of the list of things to be bought in the store if you take him shopping, let him have his needs noted down in the list, and if in the mall he throws up a tantrum, show him the list. Let him satisfy himself may be with a smaller version of something alike that he wants.

Special-needs children have "extrordinary needs," rather than special needs. Diagnosis of some form of mental disorders are difficult as a child may behave one way in the doctorís clinic or school and quite another way in a more comfortable setting. Delayed symptoms lead to delayed diagnoses to different ailments. The combination of diagnoses makes treatment effective. Morgan advocates team work for medication, the parents need to form a team with the paediatrician, psychiatrist and pharmacist, which unfortunately does not happen in India. The writerís note of caution to parents: Donít hesitate to disagree with your doctor.

It is important to adapt and communicate. Get orderly, know your childís daily routine, note down areas which need more attention. After a couple of weeks of observing, review the journal. Trial and error is necessary. Jot down things he does, read them out to him later over the years and show him his pictures and videos and see how he responds. The author suggests using a camcorder or digital camera to record live happenings. Do things together which is quality time spent or "floor time". Choose a scheduled format, adapt to the schedule, if there are problem areas, adjust your procedures or sequence slightly. Take comfort in that you are changing the things you can, though slowly. There are areas where you canít change the child, change your method.

Documentation is the key to keep every information handy about medication, doctorís visits, significant events, negative behaviour, school issues. Another difficulty the parents encounter is how to convince other family members and acquaintances, the commitment you feel towards your child. If he behaves inappropriately, he appears indisciplined to them. In reality he is confused. Only you will know that when he throws himself on the floor or gets violent at you, he is frustrated and is not able to tell you what is happening to him at that moment.

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