Customer Reviews: Quirky Kids: Understanding and Helping Your Child Who Doesn't Fit In- When to Worry and When Not to Worry
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VINE VOICEon 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.
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VINE VOICEon July 30, 2004
This is one of those rare books that deserves more than 5 stars. As the mom of a challenging, hard-to-parent kid, this book was tremendously helpful and comforting. I only wish I'd read it five years ago, when I first started to feel as though my child was "different" and "quirky" but chalked it up to being a first-time mom and worrywart. The book does a great job of explaining different kinds of behavior that quirky kids exhibit; defines and distinguishes between different diagnoses that quirky kids may receive (like Asperger's, attention deficit and sensory integration); talks about real-world problems that arise while parenting a quirky kid; gives practical advice for how to handle troublesome behaviors and situations; offers guidance for getting quirky children the best, most effective education from infancy through the teen years; talks realistically about various therapies; and most of all, provides reassurance and comfort. I especially appreciated the quotes from real parents of quirky kids. If you've ever suspected your kid might be "different," "quirky" or "abnormal", if you've ever wondered whether your kid's troublesome behavior was normal or something more, if you've flirted with the idea of seeking professional help for a child you love, please read this book. You will be better able to distinguish between what may be a significant problem and what's just a stage, and you will find comfort, strength and hope for the journey ahead.
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on March 8, 2004
This is a book for parents of kids whos have, or resemble those who have, any of several closely related disabilities: Asperger's Syndrome, Pervasive Developmental Disability - Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), Nonverbal Learning Disorder, Sensory Integration Dysfunction. But it's about the kids, not the disorders.
This is NOT the book to provide an in-depth understanding of any one of these diagnostic categories. For that purpose, a book more focused on whichever condition you're concerned about will probably serve you better. For example, my own favorite scholarly resource on Asperger's Syndrome is "Asperger Syndrome" (Guilford Press, 2000), a collection of articles edited by Drs. Klin, Volkmar and Sparrow of Yale.
But what this book does so well is to serve as a wise, perceptive and sympathetic counselor and friend for parents of kids who are in this spectrum. It speaks respectfully and helpfully about the whole range of real-world issues, including schools, helpful and non-so-helpful friends, maintaining your own mental health, balancing the needs of multiple kids when one or more has exceptional needs, genuinely appreciating your kid's strengths and quirks, understanding the heartaches and long-term worries. The authors always seem to "get" that this quirkiness doesn't come in only one flavor, or even in only a few flavors. They address, frankly, realistically and with real understanding and compassion, the fears and worries that parents of these kids are experiencing.
Where so many of the books I've read, and helping professionals with whom we've consulted, seem to illustrate the parable of the six blind men describing the elephant, Drs. Klass and Costello, the authors of "Quirky Kids," seem to see, and appreciate, the whole creature.
I'm REALLY glad I found this book, and I warmly recommend it to parents of quirky kids.
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VINE VOICEon February 18, 2004
As the parent of what this book terms a quirky child, and as a fan of Klass' other works, I read this book eagerly. In many ways I was not disappointed. I liked the strong point of view here---the authors were not afraid to take stands on such issues as how much therapy is really helpful to a child (they believe, as I do, that a child needs some time to just be a child!) and they took a strong stance in favor of vaccines, and had skepticism about diets that some say can "cure" autism related disorders. They were great at putting things in perspective, and saying it was okay to enjoy your child's personality and see their good points, and they were honest about how hard childhood can be for a quirky child---as despite what many think, childhood is a time when a great deal of conformity is expected.
My quibbles with this book involved the same thing as its strong points---a sometimes one-sided point of view. For example, public schools are given weak praise, with statements along the lines of "most kids will have to have at least some time in public schools, and they usually do fairly well" (not an exact quote, but along those lines). Private schools are given much more time and discussion, although it is acknoledged briefly that for many of us, private schools are out of the question financially! Also, we are told it is best if mothers keep working, to keep their identity and have some time away from parenting---all well and good, but what if you have decided to be a stay at home mom and were not working to start with, or what if your job involves working at something that is not terribly rewarding, instead of being a pediatrician or lawyer or the like?
Overall, I would recommend this book, for its positive outlook and solid ideas, but it should not be used alone---as with most books on special needs, they work best as part of much reading, to get many viewpoints.
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on August 1, 2008
I bought this book in conjunction with "the Out-of-Sync child". I read this after the other book. While it offered some insight into quirky kids, it really provided the same info as other books I have read on the subject.

There were two things that I did find appealing about the book. The first being that it followed the child from young quirky toddler through adolesence and into adulthood. I will keep this book as a reference source just for that reason.

The second thing I liked about the book was that it was continually reassuring that eventually these quirky kids find their niche. That is something that any parent wants for their child - a place to fit in.

Overall, I think that there are other books on the market that might address varying types of ASD better than this book. However, with the exception of this book, I have yet to find one that deals with the age progression of these children. For that reason alone, I would recommend it.
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on January 7, 2005
There are so many books out there devoted to helping the parents of "special" kids. Most of them, I've found, are either way too touchy-feely or too text-booky. You can usually tell within the first few chapters what particular agenda the author will be focusing on, and with a few exceptions (such as "The Out-of-Sync Child") I hadn't yet found one that really worked for me. This book, however, drew me in right away and kept me coming back at any opportunity I could grab. (Any book that can have me reaching for it during the few minutes it takes to cook fish sticks in the microwave, well, that's a big deal.)

My child is not just "difficult" or "spirited" - and he's also not afflicted in an "obvious" way (ie., on one of his good days, I doubt anyone would think something was amiss with the boy). He exists in that strange place where his behaviors, many of which are far beyond his control, just don't fit in with typical society...a true "quirky kid". This book addresses so many of the issues and situations that our family deals with on a daily basis (and those we will probably have to deal with in the future), and offers sensible, real-life suggestions. The authors seem to have a true understanding of what our kids go through, what the families go through, and where we might be able to make some changes for the better.
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on March 17, 2013
I have a 'quirky kid' but this book was not helpful for me. The book focuses on kids who have (or may soon have) a diagnosis of some sort and/or are on the 'spectrum.' Easy to read and understand but the subject was not exactly what I was looking for.
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on January 17, 2004
This unique book is a must-read for all parents with quirky kids. Drs. Klass and Costello offer an excellent roadmap for parents at all stages of adaptation and learning, from the difficult and confusing period of their child's diagnosis up through their early adulthood. Throughout the book, the authors strike a skillful balance, gently urging parents to look on the bright side -- quirky kids can be quite interesting and entertaining -- while simultaneously acknowledging how painful and stressful it can be to have children who beat to such different drummers. The writing is wise and compassionate from first page to last.
And there is much in this book for readers other than the parents of quirky kids. Clearly, it is a vital resource for all those who work with children, such as teachers and pediatricians. And it's a valuable read for others as well, from aunts and uncles to babysitters and little league coaches alike. As Klass and Costello make clear, quirky kids' lives would be much less stressful -- and less lonely -- if more people reacted with understanding and recognition, accepted their oddities, and/or offered a patient ear (if even to an hour of baseball statistics). This book is likely to inspire and assist many adults to be such a supportive figure. That will surely ease the lives of many quirky kids and their parents as well.
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on July 10, 2010
This book is more of a description of quirky kids and the problems they may face rather than a source of information about how to address these issues. If you are looking for validation for your concerns and some ideas as to the challenges you may face, this is a decent introduction. But if you are anywhere beyond the introductory level, this book will likely disappoint you.
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on November 7, 2011
Love it! Most people who would be looking for this book most likely are having a great deal of trouble with their child and searching for help in how to handle them. That is what led me to it. My son has several issues, mood disorders, ADHD and I am currently being faced with the possibility of Aspergers. Any information I can get my hands on is worth the read. This one, however was great. I would recommend it to parents with children that don't have major issues as well. It will help anyone to better understand the children and their families that face these difficulties on a daily basis. I certainly plan on asking my extended family to give it a read. It will help them better understand my son and my family. That will help them to communicate with him much better. A lot of people just don't get it! I think this can be a great tool for that. Any book of this nature will have stuff that is way out there and unrealistic. This one, didn't have a whole lot of that in it. I believe it will help me to help my son!!
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