The Elephant in the Playroom: Ordinary Parents Write Intimately and Honestly About the Extraordinary Highs and Heartbreaking Lows of Raising Kids with Special Needs

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Candid, passionate, personal, and heartbreakingly funny, a view from within the whirlwind of parenting a child with special needs

Three years ago, magazine editor Denise Brodey's precocious four-year-old son, Toby, was diagnosed with a combination of sensory integration dysfunction and childhood depression. As she struggled to make sense of her new, often chaotic, often lonely world, what she found comforted her most was talking with other harried, hopeful, and insightful ...

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Overview

Candid, passionate, personal, and heartbreakingly funny, a view from within the whirlwind of parenting a child with special needs

Three years ago, magazine editor Denise Brodey's precocious four-year-old son, Toby, was diagnosed with a combination of sensory integration dysfunction and childhood depression. As she struggled to make sense of her new, often chaotic, often lonely world, what she found comforted her most was talking with other harried, hopeful, and insightful parents of kids with special needs, learning how they coped with the feelings they encountered throughout the day.

In The Elephant in the Playroom, moms and dads from across the country write intimately and honestly about the joyful highs and disordered lows of raising children who are “not quite normal.” Laying bare the emotional, medical, and social challenges they face, their stories address issues ranging from if and when to medicate a child, to how to get a child who is overly sensitive to the texture of food to eat lunch. Eloquent and honest, the voices in this collection will provide solace and support for the millions of parents whose kids struggle with ADD, ADHD, sensory disorders, childhood depression, Asperger's syndrome, and autism—as well as the many kids who fall between diagnoses.

Offering readers comfort, community, and much-needed perspective, The Elephant in the Playroom is sure to become essential reading for parents of special needs kids.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Brodey, a magazine editor from New York City, uses her experiences as the mother of a four-year-old boy diagnosed with sensory integration dysfunction and childhood depression as a springboard to assemble a series of essays from parents of special-needs children across the country. As Brodey notes, there are more than ten million children diagnosed with special needs in this country, a statistic that has created a vast audience for this type of book. The children profiled have diagnoses ranging from autism to selective mutism, from cerebral palsy to schizophrenia; their parents describe the roller-coaster ride of daily living, discuss whether or not to medicate and the issue of public embarrassment, and share both wonderful and horrific school experiences. Their accounts are heartbreakingly sad, unexpectedly funny, and always honest. Parents of special-needs kids often feel isolated and criticized; in these pages, they will find a wise and understanding community. As Brodey writes, these parents know that "[i]f you don't take advantage of life, it may take advantage of you." An original and helpful addition to the parenting shelf; strongly recommended for public libraries.
—Elizabeth Safford

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594630354
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 4/19/2007
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.82 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.03 (d)

Meet the Author

Denise Brodey has spent the past fifteen years at the country's top women's magazines. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Glamour, Prevention, Child, People, and O: The Oprah Magazine.
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2008

    Relating to the book

    I am a mother of a special needs 4 year old boy (he has Autism). Another mom of a an autistic boy told me about the book, so I decided to read it. I could relate to so many of the stories in there, the good and the bad, and kids with other disabilities than my son's. I recommend this book be read by family/friends of special needs people AND most definately of people that don't have a special needs person close to them. It might open their eyes to what is really happening with the person they see freaking out in the store....

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 20, 2007

    Short stories for parents with special needs kids

    Loved this book! It is a compilation of 41 short stories written by parents of special needs kids. The stories are divided into sections titled, 1- Think Different, 2- Taking Care of You, 3- The Roller Coaster, 4- Schools that work, Schools that don't, 5- To medicate or not to medicate, 6- Going public and 7- Seeing the forest through the trees. I enjoyed reading the real stories of everyday life with a special needs child. Now I know there are a lot of special parents out there who know what I have been going through over the past six years. Their strength, creativity and humor is truly an inspiration. This book is a quick read. I found it hard to put down. Highly recommend!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2007

    A Must Read!

    I saw a bit of MY story in each essay that Brody included in this wonderful collection. It is so comforting to know that as parents of a child with special needs, we are not alone. It is a must read for parents, grandparents, teachers caregivers... Reading this book was like connecting with a friend who really understands the challenges AND JOYS of raising a child with special needs.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2007

    BEST BOOK OUT THERE for parents of Special Needs

    I laughed, I cried. I am in love with the short mini stories other parents of special needs children shared about their lives. I also learned some great tips on what worked with their autistic, sensory integration dysfunction children. Overall, my husband and I felt like we attended a therapy session for $20.00!!! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to all the parents who contributed to this book! You are WONDERFUL!!!!!

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