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There Is No Magic. . . But There Are Alternatives To Parenting Exceptional Children by Stephen Dubrofsky

Jacket: Paperback
Pages: 340 pages
Publisher: American Literary Press (September 16, 2003)
Genre: Special Needs Children
ISBN: 1561678155

Comments about the author: Stephen Dubrofsky holds a B.A. in Psychology from Loyola College in Montreal, an M.A. in learning disabilities from Kent State University, and an M.Ed. in Educational Administration from Columbia University. He is the Director of "Our Child-A Growth Center" and has been featured on television for his extensive experience in Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorders (AD/HD). "There Is No Magic" is his first book.


Review: The message I received when I read There Is No Magic . . . But There Are Alternatives To Parenting Exceptional Children was that all children are a gift from God. Steven Dubrofsky's message was loud and clear: it is our responsibility as parents to understand our children, both their strengths and their weaknesses, and to advocate for them. The most important concept presented is that there is more to raising an "exceptional" child than being a good disciplinarian. As parents we need a comprehensive plan to accommodate our child's special needs.

I picked up this book having just received my son's diagnosis of ADHD. I was impressed with the title because in my own experience I learned there really IS no magic when it comes to parenting. I tried everything. I'm working with a psychiatrist. I briefly worked with a clinical psychologist. I read dozens of parenting books: Parenting with Love and Logic, Parenting the Explosive Child, The Discipline Book, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk, Understanding Your Child's Temperament, to name a few. I'm not saying these techniques don't have merit. I learned a lot from each of them. I tried logical consequences, sticker charts, job charts, and time-outs. You name it. However, nothing seemed to "work" over the long haul.

Most of the parenting books I have read focus on behavior modification. When it comes to parenting special needs children, behavior modification is only part of the equation. In the title, Dubrofsky tells us there are "Alternatives To Parenting Exceptional Children". In other words we have to go beyond the latest behavior modification trend. We have to go beyond medicine. We have to create a comprehensive development plan.

There Is No Magic discusses some of the critical components of that plan. The book defines the "exceptional child" by listing the characteristics of ADHD and other disabilities. It discusses learning styles, temperaments, and our own parenting styles. It lists several psychological and physical problems that often inaccurately present as ADHD. Dubrofsky explains the Individualized Education Plan and lists several educational modifications that may facilitate more effective learning. He introduces some of the medications used in treating ADHD and touches on the controversy surrounding medical treatment. He lists treatment alternatives including diet modifications, exercise and relaxation techniques. He finishes by discussing discipline techniques.

This is the first book I have read that attempts to bring together all the issues surrounding parenting an "exceptional" child. The idea of creating this parenting plan makes perfect sense. However, there should be a more clearly defined method parents can use in developing a plan of their own. There Is No Magic seems to present only a high level outline of the plan. Each chapter contains lists of facts, tips and considerations without specifically tying back to the plan.

I would have found the book more helpful if it were organized into sections, each representing a component of the plan. Each topic introduced should be thoroughly explained with respect to the plan. The tips and considerations could then be listed. More examples, anecdotal evidence and case studies would help parents understand the material with respect to their own situations. Finally, it would be helpful to point the reader in the right direction to gather further information on each topic.

I took two very important ideas from the book. First I truly felt the author's compassion for "exceptional" children. I received the message: God doesn't make mistakes. There is a way to reach EVERY soul and it is our responsibility as parents to see that our children shine for who they are. Second, there is no one thing that we can do that will "work" to "fix" our children. Rather there are several areas where we must truly know our child. We have to understand his or her needs and we need to clear the obstacles to their success. We must educate ourselves and accept our role as their advocate. Above all else we must be consistent, firm and loving.

— Reviewed by:
Mary-Ellen McMahon Mary-Ellen McMahon

Maryellen_mcmahon@yahoo.com

 
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