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Learning to Dance in the Rain: A Year of Weathering the Storm with an Autistic Child Paperback – September 6, 2013

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Editorial Reviews


"This is a great book to obtain a firsthand look at what parents and caregivers experience in their journey with autistic children. The author's style is very readable and she evokes tremendous empathy and understanding from the reader. The many struggles are interwoven with funny, lighthearted vignettes as well. Thoroughly enjoyed reading this!" C. Pearce

"The wonderful thing about this book, I think, is that it shows how the patience and the everyday common sense of caretakers can make a big difference in the ability of an autistic child to live a satisfying life. I understand that all autistic children are different, and that what works for one might not work for another one. But this book shows that sophisticated educational techniques are sometimes not needed: a loving, caring person can be a big help just by listening to the child, and figuring out ways of helping." juki654

"The book is well written and easy to read. It lets us know, what people who live or work with autistic children go through. I knew it wasn't easy, but this book really made you understand the life of an autistic child & their family. A must read for anyone who knows or deals with an autistic child." Lynne

"Going into this book I felt I probably had an average amount of knowledge about children with special needs, including autism, though I've never really been around special-needs children or adults much in my 50+ years. By the end of the book, I realize how clueless I actually have been, both in what these children are going through, as well as the difficult journeys of the people who love them. After reading this journal with its well-written, honest and heartfelt insight into the ups and downs of life with this little sweetheart, I realize that while I've been working on becoming a more patient and tolerant person, I should have been spending the time becoming a more empathetic and understanding one and that patience and tolerance would have been second nature. What a great read this was, as well as a wonderful learning experience, and I'm looking forward to the sequel!" Ruth --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

May 11, 2010
Marlee told me a funny story today about something Reagan did a little while ago. Reagan has a fascination with powders.

A few months ago, baby powder was the most coveted item. She would look for it all over the house and turn containers upside down, powder pouring out of them, wherever they were found. There was a fine layer of baby powder all over the house. With six bathrooms, and a little girl who’s been in diapers for more than seven years, there were at least ten containers of baby powder in the house. By the time Reagan had finished emptying containers, there was baby powder on the furniture, in the carpets, and even in her hair! I spent days vacuuming up the fine dust, even finding it in the lint trap in the dryer and air conditioner filter. It took days, and all five of the household’s vacuum cleaners, but I finally managed to rid the house of its chalky layer.

Then last week, icing sugar became the newest fad in Reagan’s ongoing love for household powders. At breakfast, we give Reagan a choice between syrup or powdered sugar on her waffles. Every morning, Reagan watches as either Marlee or I reach a spoon into a large bag of powdered sugar and sprinkle her waffles with its powder. On one particular morning last week, Marlee walked into the kitchen to find that Reagan had emptied the whole bag of icing sugar on top of her stuffed animals.

“Kind of snowing outside!” she exclaimed, marveling in her skilled pronunciation. For Reagan, who struggled with speech for so long, her independent ability to express herself is still remarkable for us all.

Marlee surveyed the room – stuffed animals were caked with a thick, sticky layer of icing sugar. Reagan’s hands and face were covered with a fine dusting. And the table and floor were a pasty, gooey disaster. Marlee was furious. Not knowing what else to do, she picked up the stuffed animals and threw them onto the front porch outside.

Once the kitchen was cleaned up, Marlee looked outside to the animals. They were coated in a gummy paste of snowy sugar, but she just couldn’t bear the idea of throwing them in the garbage. Some of these toys are Reagan’s favorites and she loves them dearly. Instead of being thrown out, Reagan’s filthy, sticky animals have been hidden away in the bathroom waiting to be cleaned for weeks. They will get cleaned up and returned to Reagan’s possession soon enough, waiting for another “kind of snowy day” to come along. But, in the meantime, I will smile every time I think of our little girl beaming at her ability to express her imaginative play to Marlee, and anyone else who will listen.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 194 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (September 6, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1492277126
  • ISBN-13: 978-1492277125
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,176,097 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Paulette Mahurin on October 26, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
What starts out as an entrance into a chaotic, messy home, that would drive the best of us nuts, comes the introduction of Reagan and her family, through the eyes of their caregiver Melanie Bennett, the author of Learning to Dance in the Rain. Written in a journal/diary-like format with days broken up like chapters, the read is a fly on the wall view into what it’s like to be with an autistic child day in and day out, not just for the emotional reactions that come, but also the solutions and joys, the simple things that help make life tenable for the child’s single mother, older sister, and Melanie herself. Clever advice is interjected in the narrative of the day’s description: speak a full sentence to get your chick-fil-a (the child’s favorite food), ketchup as an aversion, solutions to biting, pinching, and kicking come from routine. The poignant parts are the reflections the author gives us into her own emotions: eg. guilt from a meltdown in the doctor’s office when Reagan isn’t allowed to play with Teddy Bears; feeling at fault because of lack of routine the prior week when company came for the holidays. This is not a glossed over, written through rose-colored glasses story, nor is it a derogatory slant on what it is to live with and care for an autistic child. There is a lot of love in these pages and it is the love that communicates through the pages with descriptions and explanations of what it is to relate with an amazing little girl, who happens to also be autistic. We are all mixed bags, filled with contradictions, mixed emotions, frustrations, joys, interests, and it is no different with Reagan, and in showing us this, letting us in, this is where this book shines. Bravo to the compassionate, and extremely patient heart, of Bennett who has managed to write a narrative on what can really be helpful to those in relationships with autistic children. A well-done read that I recommend. Paulette Mahurin, Family Nurse Practitioner, MSN/UCLA
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Oregongirl on October 27, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As someone who has a friend with two autistic boys, this book was eye-opening and reaffirming. As a teacher, this helped me understand more about autism and how to be a more caring and inclusive instructor. The book looks at one year in the life of 7-year-old Reagan and her caregiver Melanie. Written like a journal, the well-written entries discuss all issues in the day-to-day life of Reagan; from stimming, the need for routine and order, the child’s love of chicken nuggets, to the support system that surrounded her family as they dealt with and grew with this little girl. There were many times, as Melanie described their outings to stores or doctor’s offices that I felt like I could not have the loving patience she does to carry on. However, it was the progress of the child in one short year that proved to me that love conquers all and that we must lovingly proceed with our quest of helping those with autism so they can live fulfilling and fruitful lives. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Hilary on March 5, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
This is an astonishingly special book that describes one real-life year in the author’s work with one family and their seven year old daughter, Reagan, who has autism. The challenges and every day hurdles and stresses (as well as the joys and achievements) that are involved in what to families not dealing with autism would be ordinary events and situations are described so well by the author. Reagan has a low-functioning form of autism and her need for a rigid routine, difficulty or inability to communicate or express herself and her needs and her general all-round delayed development will be familiar to parents or carers of children with ASD. What really shines through in the book is the determination of Reagan’s mother and carer to continue to believe that she can learn and develop and achieve and reach her own individual full potential. The relentless effort that is needed for this to happen is inspiring and should be an eye opener for anyone not familiar with the facts about bringing up a child with autism.
Reagan makes remarkable progress over the twelve months and the author acknowledges that this is not just due to their own efforts with her – Reagan has a fearless self-belief about many things where “her biggest fears aren't enough to stop her”.
Reagan’s story is an inspiration and has much to teach all of us about embracing and cherishing the individuality of others rather than forcing others to fit some kind of “norm”. I love the title of this book, taken from the well-known quote by Vivian Greene. The message is that when life gives us seemingly impossible or exhausting challenges, the answer lies not in fighting or fearing this “storm” but in embracing it for what it is ie learning to dance in the rain. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Brooke Teta on September 20, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
4.5 stars;

Learning to Dance in the Rain: A Year of Weathering the Storm with an Autistic Child by Melanie Bennett is a book about Melanie’s experience as a caregiver for a young girl, who is severally autistic, named Reagan. Personally, this book left me exhausted – in the best possible way a book could. The book is written as a diary and with Melanie’s writing, you can feel the emotional and mental toll it takes to keep up with a child with such extreme special needs. To care for Regan is so involved, every aspect of each day is planned to the second. I really felt like I was talking to Melanie each day by having all of her personal thoughts and feelings written on the page.

Having learned about those with autism in college, Melanie’s book does an excellent job where most books about autism fail. Melanie does not write her book thinking that the average reader has a basic knowledge of autism. Everything from textured foods to physical pressure therapy is addressed and explained within the book. Most books about autism fail to explain small details, but Learning to Dance in the Rain addresses them all.

There are so many aspect of the book I loved. Reagan herself – she was an amazing little girl and I loved reading about her and Melanie walking through the woods. I loved the insight about collaboration between caregivers, therapists, doctors, and parents. This collaboration isn’t always easy and Melanie was very honest about the difficulties that come with working with other adults. My favorite part of the book? Melanie’s fierce love and protection for Reagan was evident on every page, even throughout the hard times and during times of doubt about caregiving. Melanie loved Reagan and this was evident through every action of Melanie’s. Reagan’s love for Melanie was also very touching – it shows how strong their relationship was despite all the difficulties and hurtles that accompany autism.

(Originally posted on GoodReads)
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