I was lucky enough to meet the author of this book, Melinda Boring, at the 2006 FPEA Homeschool Convention. We spent a bit of time talking about our special needs children, and she was so positive about her experience with raising her two special needs children that I was very excited to have the chance to review her book, Heads Up Helping! I have read many books on ADHD and Aspergers to try to understand how to relate to and teach my son at home. Many other "professional" books are out there, but I learned more about my son from Heads Up Helping! than from all of the other books combined! Now, that may seem like a stretch, but I have found that books written by those "in the trenches" often teach me more than those written by the doctors and therapists.
Although the title specifically mentions only ADD and ADHD, this book would be very good reading for parents of autistic children, especially those diagnosed as high-functioning (or those with Aspergers). I saw so much of my son in the stories about the author's son, Josh. I wish that I had had this book over four years ago when we first began homeschooling. I believe that the techniques Ms. Boring shares for dealing with children who are hyper and/or who lack focus in school would have been so beneficial to me in the beginning; my son and I would have made greater strides in our ability to work together to get through his schoolwork each day. However, there is no time like the present, and I will begin using many of her recommendations during the upcoming school years.
Ms. Boring's book encourages parents to figure out how our child learns best--whether by auditory, visual, or tactile means--and to adapt our teaching methods to the child. When we are teaching on THEIR level, they learn better and with less frustration. Her chapters include lots of tips and techniques for helping a special needs child with communication skills, distractibility and focusing, and encouraging the child's strengths as well as positively helping them with their weaknesses. One of the strengths of this book is that she has many ideas for turning the "nagging" mother into an advocate for the child. For example, by using timers to set limits for completing work, it's not mom who is yelling, "Are you done yet?" or "Why can't you get finished on time?" The timer also encourages the child to take responsibility for getting the work done.
Another strength of the book is how Ms. Boring shares how she learned to work with her children. She hasn't just thrown up her hands and said, "Well, they're different and there's nothing I can do about it!" Instead, she shares the methods she used to really get inside her children's heads and help them figure out what works best for ALL of them. This was the "light bulb" moment for me, as I've never really thought to ask my son what is going on inside his head! I do believe that Ms. Boring's training as a speech-language pathologist helped her tremendously with this, but I am thankful that she shared what is working for her. I now have some ideas of questions to ask my son so that I can begin to understand him more.
Even though the author is a homeschooling parent, this book would be good for any family with special needs children. I would like to have seen the inclusion of a chapter on exactly how Ms. Boring homeschools her children--maybe something like a basic daily schedule that she uses or even a list of curriculum that she has found to be adaptable to those with ADD/ADHD and/or autism. I always like to read the details on how others are making things work in their homeschools since it gives me ideas to use with my child. This is one of those books that I will be sharing with my friends who have easily distracted children-I just hope they give it back!
Product review by Kris Price, Assistant to the Publishers, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, July 2006