The first is Count Us In by Jason Kingsly and Mitchell Levitz. It’s written by two young men with Down syndrome (they were in their late teens when the book was written, and there’s an updated epilogue written when they were in their early 30’s).
Why am I not reading it? Well, because it’s pretty much what you would expect to find in the memoir of two teenage boys. The young men were clearly thoughtful and funny and opinionated. Their book was full of the same teenage self-confident certainty I might have had writing at that age. But really? All I was learning reading through this is that (duh) young men with Down syndrome have a lot of the same thoughts and questions and opinions as any other teenager. (And might I confess that the average teenager writing about themselves is, um, kind of boring.) So I skipped around and read bits here and there, until I finally gave up on reading the whole thing and took it back to the library. I was happy to do so. I like the idea that Max will grow into a young man who will one day bore me with his normal-ness.
The second book is called Positive Discipline for Children with Special Needs by Jane Nelsen. Someday there’s a whole post, or a dozen, about my hopes and insecurities about raising and disciplining a kid with special needs. About the worries that they won’t grow and mature on their own without constant (and often professional) guidance. About the perception that only strong expectations and diligent discipline will goad Max into proper behavior.
This is the first book I’ve found that looks at special needs parenting from a perspective that I recognize. The practical uses of the book are a few years off, but for now I am just happy to see that someone else has had the same questions. And that one author, at least, has determined that disciplining to mold, to shape, to conquer, is no more necessary or useful in raising kids with special needs than it is for typically developing children.
That said, the main reason I stopped reading this book? I remembered that my infant son isn’t in need of much guidance yet, but my 4 year old? Oh, I could definitely use a pep talk on how to incorporate some positive parenting with him. So this book is also on its way back to the library, waiting for the day when Max is old enough for it to be useful. And I’m going to find the author’s first book, plain old Positive Discipline, and work on implementing some of its ideas with my older son.
These two books are reminding me that my family really isn’t all that different than I thought it would be. It’s a reassuring thought. And it’s blessedly boring to read about.