As a pediatric neuropsychologist, Eichenstein tries to answer all of the questions parents ask when their children are diagnosed with dyslexia, autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, OCD and other brain differences that affect learning and development.
The questions include: Is this a lifelong disorder? Will she get better? What interventions should we try? In addition, the author attempts to answer some of the questions they don’t ask: How could this be true? Is this my fault? Am I a bad parent? Drawing on the emotional stages of grief described by Elizabeth Kübler-Ross—denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance—Eichenstein makes the case that parents of atypical children often go through a similar process, the “five stages of acceptance,” when facing their children’s diagnoses. In occasionally repetitive chapters, the author addresses each phase and provides definitions of various disorders, as well as a sprinkling of composite case studies. There’s a lot of useful information here and a clear intention to acknowledge parents’ struggles, but it often reads more like a clinical—and sometimes-critical—assessment of the parents. For instance, Eichenstein dismisses parental attempts to search for alternatives to conventional advice as evidence that they are in a denial or bargaining phase. To those who want to research the diagnoses themselves, she writes, “[m]ost people do not have the time…and even if they did, they would not understand what they were reading.” Leave it to the professionals, she seems to be saying, a message that may put off many readers. The author’s suggested remedies include a menu of self-help therapies like meditation, self-compassion and cognitive reframing. The author provides support, with a side of scolding, for parents facing a child’s diagnosis with a neuropsychological disorder.
Clinical distancing undercuts Eichenstein’s otherwise compassionate advice for parents of atypical children.