Neurodiversity Titles of Note | Parenting

These guides to parenting neurodivergent children cover behavior, well-being, bullying, and social justice with empathy and expertise.

Amen, David G. & Charles Fay. Raising Mentally Strong Kids: How To Combine the Power of Neuroscience with Love and Logic To Grow Confident, Kind, Responsible, and Resilient Children and Young Adults. Tyndale Refresh. Mar. 2024. 368p. ISBN 9781496484796. $27.99. CHILD REARING

Child psychologist Fay (Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood: 2nd Edition) and neuropsychologist Amen (Conquer Your Negative Thoughts) have collectively worked with parents for more than seven decades. They devote their book to equipping parents with the tools to raise mentally healthy children, and they do so by effectively addressing both the brain and the mind of a child. Science is integrated with diagrams demonstrating how the brain develops from infancy to early adulthood, along with brain healthy habits such as empathizing with others, praying and meditating, selecting healthy foods, and processing thoughts. The two explain that a parent acts as the child’s frontal lobe until the child develops their own sense of how to act and face the consequences their choices yield. There’s a section on raising children up through the young adult years and one on special needs. Common challenges addressed include potty-training, sibling rivalry, bullying and teasing, peer pressure, dating, being a stepparent, and handling immature young adults. VERDICT Many parents will gain much insight into how to raise mentally healthy individuals who treat others (and self) with dignity and demonstrate empathy.

Mavir, Heidi. Your Child Is Not Broken: Parent Your Neurodivergent Child Without Losing Your Marbles. Bluebird: Macmillan. Mar. 2024. 288p. ISBN 9781035030576. pap. $19.99. CHILD REARING

As an adult, trauma-informed care professional Mavir learned that she is neurodivergent when her son experienced mental distress as he attempted to navigate a mainstream educational system. At the time, they didn’t realize he was an autistic person. Mavir knows firsthand that parents of autistic children may feel isolated, furthered by society’s false narrative that labels their child as “broken.” She advocates for pushing back and notes that BIPOC children often face the challenge of late (and sometimes never-received) diagnoses. In this updated edition, suicidal ideation, substance disorders, child abuse, an intense sense of uneasiness after being rejected, extreme behavior when children purposely ignore or avoid what they perceive to be a demand, and the distinctive challenges faced by single parents are covered; trigger warnings for potentially upsetting topics appear at the beginning of each chapter. But lighter points are made too. Appendix resources have titles such as a “Bullshit Bingo Board,” which is comprised of offensive sayings that neurodivergent parents and children often hear. VERDICT This book will help many parents of neurodivergent children. Readers will appreciate Mavir’s honest, no-holds-barred approach.

Ramesh, Jaya & Priya Saaral. Parenting at the Intersections: Raising Neurodivergent Children of Color. Parenting Pr. Jan. 2024. 304p. ISBN 9781641608893. pap. $19.99. CHILD REARING

Psychotherapist Ramesh and play therapist/parenting coach Saaral are both women of color with ADHD who view parenting neurodivergent BIPOC children as an opportunity to change the world’s flawed perspective and definition of “normal.” Children of color often face being viewed as “other” as well, which gives them double the amount of obstacles to navigate. To help, the authors advocate for parenting as an act of social justice—an effort to make all bodies and all brains feel supported. The two write through the lens of intersectionality, disability justice, neurodiversity paradigm, attachment, and a developmental perspective of childhood. Each chapter includes a guide for further information on understanding important topics such as victimization, online racism, school and online bullies, and much more. One of the book’s many highlights is the section on how to find community for parents and their children. VERDICT A necessary, engaging, educational, and eye-opening perspective, not often found, about parenting children of color with neurodivergence. It’s also a powerful call to action to make parenting a form of disruption to oppressive systems and people.

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