Our local library tracks down the best books! While browsing the New Titles section last weekend, I stumbled upon Dragonfly: A Daughter’s Emergence from Autism: A Practical Guide for Parents by Lori Ashley Taylor. Always interested in learning more about girls on the spectrum, I immediately dug into the book.
This book strikes a nice blend of practical and emotional advice. Ms. Taylor is an educator, yet she was entirely perplexed by her child’s behaviors, and was caught off guard by the notion that her daughter was showing signs of autism. Her pediatrician was quick to make some referrals for assessment that then opened the doors to treatment. And Ms. Taylor was very quick to make follow up appointments, schedule treatment appointments, and seek additional services for her child such as equine therapy and swimming therapy.
Ms. Taylor discusses the IEP meetings (as both a parent and a teacher), her need to advocate for her child, and the impact an autism diagnosis had on the entire family. She shared stories about the crazy therapy schedules, her hectic life pace, and the incredible progress that her daughter made. She also acknowledged the emotional toll this took, the fatigue, and the lack of patience and understanding that occasionally was thrown right into her lap. She highlights mis-steps she took, and offers better suggestions to the readers to minimize their suffering.
One aspect of this book that I really like is Ms. Taylor’s positive, yet realistic, outlook. Another strength of this book is the bullet list of tips (what, exactly, to do, how to behave in an IEP meeting, how to prep for meetings, how to prep for vacations, how to stay married). Finally, Ms. Taylor also interviewed a handful of other parents, lending the book a more diverse perspective than just her experiences as a mother or a teacher.
Ms. Taylor clearly hit the ground running. She has been to a variety of conferences, networked with leaders in the field, and now advocates not just for her own child, but for children in her classroom who are needing additional interventions and support. I wonder if she would be willing to relocate to Fort Collins to be an inspiring force in our community?
This book would be excellent for people who are new to the diagnosis. For those of you who are a few years in, you will remember those early years (fondly? With fatigue?) and then be reminded to keep at it. Change happens with maturity and effort. You.can.do.this!