Monday, April 05, 2010

Book Review: The Best Kind of Different by Shonda Schilling

When I learned about The Best Kind of Different through a friend's link on Facebook, my interest was piqued. After all, we're huge baseball fans in this house. What baseball fan doesn't remember Curt Schilling and the famous "bloody sock" during the World Series a few years ago? I didn't know he had a son who had been diagnosed with Aspergers. I clicked the link and read the introduction. These words in particular got my attention immediately:

Seemingly everyone Shonda encountered had an opinion—"he's too spoiled," "he needs a good spanking," "he needs more discipline"—but it was a disastrous first attempt at summer camp that told Shonda something was definitely wrong. It was then that a neurologist diagnosed Grant with Asperger's syndrome—a form of high-functioning autism that, in recent years, has been found in children who at first glance appear disruptive and difficult.

Now in The Best Kind of Different, Shonda details every step of her family's journey with Asperger's, offering a parent's perspective on this complicated and increasingly common condition. Looking back on Grant's early years, she describes the signals she missed in his behavior and confronts the guilt that engulfed her after she came to understand just how misguided her parenting had been before the diagnosis. In addition, she talks about the harsh judgment she's faced from people who don't buy into the diagnosis and how she's used passion and information to fight the ignorance of others.

It was as if Shonda Schilling were in my head! I jumped over to the library website, but it didn't appear that they were planning to order any copies, and I simply HAD to read this book. So I did the unthinkable - I ordered a hardcover copy from amazon! Thanks to my free trial of Amazon Prime, it arrived in 2 days!

Now, it's going to be hard to accurately review this book. I gobbled up the story! So much of what she says resonates strongly with me. I could just start pulling out quote after quote! :) But that might get kind of boring. Well, not for me. Just knowing someone else in the world felt the same things I did/do - the good AND the bad, the guilt and the sadness and the confusion and the joy - reading the same things I have felt so often is really kind of a comfort. I'm not crazy! LOL

Needless to say, I give this book two thumbs up. Shonda is painfully honest about the toll Aspergers has taken on her, on her marriage, on the other children in the family. But, she also talks about the joy in Aspergers and how it has changed her in good ways. The pain and heartache may seem to dominate the book, but they are not quite 3 years into the diagnosis, and I remember that time very well. 3 years may seem like a long time to folks, but when you're talking about something like autism/aspergers where there are new realities to face as your child hits new stages of life, it can sometimes feel like rolling waves of grief. We are not that far ahead of them (Reece was diagnosed 4.5 years ago, and we're approaching 4 years for Austin) and there are still some days when autism knocks me on my butt and I feel like I have to start the grieving and acceptance process all over again.

I'm not one for buying hardcover books, either. But I have to say I am very glad I bought this one! It was an excellent read and I find I can relate well to Shonda and her situation. I wish her family ALL the best!


Penny said...

I just placed a hold on it at our library, along with Rodney Peete's new book and the book by Holly Robinson Peete and daughter Ryan Elizabeth Peete. Thanks for the review!

Niffercoo said...

I've got the one by the Peete's daughter waiting for me at the library. Let me know what you think of Rodney Peete's book. I am reading The Tipping Point next (recommended during one of the E-learning modules I think... or maybe the RDI book). I've been waiting for it for a long time! :)

The Glasers said...

Wow! Endorsing buying the brand-spanking-new hardback speaks volumes!