Top positive review
161 people found this helpful
Great source of reassurance and information
on April 23, 2004
I would have loved to have this book two years ago. My son, then just shy of 3, was sweet and rambunctious, but just a little bit off the normal developmental trajectories. He had a phenomenal memory (he could walk into a store in a different state we had visited only once years earlier and remember EXACTLY where the bathroom was...), but he showed little interest in playing with other kids and his speech was delayed. Our worries peaked when another parent at Isaac's gymnastics class turned to us, identified himself as a pediatrician, and asked us what therapies Isaac was receiving because it was "obvious" he was a special needs child. Needless to say, we were more than a little distraught at this off-the-cuff diagnosis and wound up spending the next several months having Isaac undergo various types of evaluation. He ultimately was diagnosed with PDD-NOS and has shown tremendous gains after receiving early intervention and speech therapy.
Looking back over that confusing, scary time, when we feared that something was "wrong" with Isaac but didn't know what, I realize that our fear and uncertainty would have been greatly diminished had I known of and read "Quirky Kids." Indeed, I think this book would be most helpful to those parents who are just starting the journey toward diagnosis and treatment. Parents like myself who have long gone through the evaluation process and have read extensively on these topics, etc. will not find much new in this volume. That did not stop me from reading and enjoying the book, however; I just really wish I had read the book much earlier, as it would have helped me greatly in understanding what was going on with my son.
There were several aspects of the book I thought were particularly strong. First, I was glad to see the authors devote so much time to the etiology of these disorders, and I was EXTREMELY glad to see them debunk several of the popular myths floating around (e.g., the MMR vaccine) regarding the causes of autism. I also found the section on common medications prescribed and their side effects to be very helpful; parents need full knowledge of the possible benefits and negative consequences of the medications that health professionals can sometimes be too eager to prescribe.
The aspect of the book I found most helpful, however, was the authors' calm reassurance regarding children who fall under the diagnoses covered by the book. The title itself captures this feeling of reassurance: These children are "quirky," and as the authors stress repeatedly, these diagnoses are fairly new. As recently as 10 or 20 years ago, these children would not have received a diagnosis at all. This has important implications, and perhaps the authors could have pointed out more explicitly the Catch-22 that parents of quirky kids face today: Early intervention helps, but receiving such intervention entails attaching a diagnostic label to your child that could stigmatize him or her and last a lifetime. Perhaps the greatest service this book provides is to walk parents through the maze of evaluation and diagnosis and subsequent therapies so that parents know better what they are getting themselves and their families into.
This book raises a broader philosophical question: To what extent are we becoming a country obsessed with perfection and intolerant of any sort of deviation from the norm? When quirky kids who are, for the most part, functional and happy are given a diagnosis and thrown into therapy to get them to play and talk like other children, are we at risk of losing or devaluing some of the incredible diversity of human behavior that makes life interesting? I sometimes wonder. I know that my son has always been and is now one of the happiest children I have ever seen. He has an enthusiasm for life that brings smiles to the faces of everybody who sees him. Quite frankly, it bothers us--his parents--that he has few friends more than it does him. The admirable quality of "Quirky Kids" is that the authors help us to cherish the differences in our children and remind us that the most important thing, in the long run, is to help them enjoy their childhood and to let them be a kid first, and quirky second.