The Autism Trail Guide: “Another hit by the indomitable Ellen Notbohm”

From Healing Magazine, 2009, Vol. 14, No. 1

At Healing, we’re always looking for new resources of information that will be useful for those who care for, treat and teach kids. We give “high fives” to sources that we feel will be beneficial to kids and those we care for them.

The Autism Trail Guide: Postcards from the road less traveled

by Ellen Notbohm

This marvelous collection of essays and columns Ellen has written over the years gives sage advice not only to parents of autistic children, but also to parents of all children. Each chapter contains pearls of wisdom Ellen has accumulated as she has traveled the trail as the parent of an autistic child and another child with ADHD. She quotes physicians, teachers, her family members and other parents who have been on the path with her, and she brings her wonderful sense of humor and depth of understanding of the obstacles faced by parents of special needs children. Her essays follow her sons from birth to the graduation of the elder and the first trip to the other side of the country by her autistic son with a group of friends and teachers.

The stories of the years of parenting and advocacy and volunteering and jumping in and holding back and smiles and tears are enthralling and relevant to all parents. She humorously presents elementary math word problems that college graduates would be hard pressed to understand and lauds the wonderful teachers she has come to greatly respect and call friends. She discusses how to select a good pediatrician, an enabling school, activities that will not be triggers and giving her sons the freedom to try new things while still being there for them if they need strong arms to fall back into. Telling stories of her younger son’s learning how to ride a bicycle in 45 minutes with the assistance of an adapted PE teacher or his winning a race at a swim meet, smiling as he crossed the entire pool, Ellen shares funny, sad, intimate and very public events in the lives of her family and even discusses the toll it may take on the husband/wife relationship. Her support system is strong, and Ellen has managed to reach out to thousands of parents of autistic and other special needs children to show that humor and joy can be found in any situation. This book is a joy to read and teaches without being pedantic. Another hit by the indomitable Ellen Notbohm. - PS