Educational Book Review

Review: Fifteen Things They Forgot to Tell You About Autism by Debby Elley

This is the first book in FOUR years that I’ve read front to back in just a weekend…and trust me this is an achievement- as I have two kids under 5.

And this isn’t me boasting about my speed of reading, this is me emphasising how much I’d recommend this book. I didn’t want to put this book down. It’s probably the only non-fiction book I’ve read that’s been going round in my head when I’ve not been reading it and that I’ve been desperate to get back to. 

Had I not had nappies to change, kids to entertain and food to make, I’d have quite happily sat on the sofa with this book all weekend. 

What do we like about it? 

  • Valuable Insight– This book is honest and about real people. It’s written by a mum of two autistic children, who has ten years plus of experience parenting her own children. She not only shares her family’s own experiences and lessons learnt about autism, but shares the information she’s learnt from other professionals in the field and books she’s read. It’s therefore incredibly valuable, not just for parents of children with autism but also for professionals. I wish when I started working as a SENDCO (Special Educational Needs & Disabilities  Coordinator) in a secondary school I’d had this book. In fact I wish all SENDCOs read this as part of the NASENCO (National Award for SEN Coordination- a statutory qualification that all new SENDCOs have to gain). I think I would have been better placed to support children with autism and their parents had I have read this. 
  • Relatable– Debby Elly’s personality shines through this book- she’s funny, real and relatable. She provides perspective, she doesn’t judge you, doesn’t make you think that everything you’ve learnt about autism is wrong, instead she makes you feel like you’ve just been sat in Costa having a chat with your friend….but have come back having learnt tonnes about autism! She openly tells you about mistakes she’s made and importantly what she’s learnt from them. 
  • Helps Parents– I think this book is brilliant for professionals and in fact anyone that would like to have a better understanding of autism. But I believe the biggest impact this book will have is on parents of autistic children. Debby Elly’s books provides advice on navigating everything from choosing schools (special or mainstream) and building relationships with the school to autistic children’s speech delays, Sensory Needs and meltdowns. 
  • Questions Definitions– I loved that this books makes you really think about some of the definitions that we often just blindly accept. My favourite is her rebrand of the acronym ASD. Debby Elly and her colleague refer to it instead as the Autism Sundae Dessert. I won’t spoil it, but it’s a really clever analogy. She also arms you with the knowledge that tantrums and meltdowns are not the same. She explains “A child having a tantrum has real control over when it stops. A child having a meltdown is taken over by their body response to stress” 
  • Makes you Think– In my opinion, a good book is one that makes you think and question what you thought you knew- this bit of advice really stuck with me when talking about autistic children being in their own world sometimes : “If you complain to yourself,”They’re never in my world” ask yourself if you’re ever prepared to visit theirs”

Buy it on Amazon here

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