Work Title: Different Dads: Fathers' Stories of Parenting Disabled Children
Work Author(s): Jill Harrison, Matthew Henderson, and Rob Leonard, editors
Jessica Kingsley Publishers
173 pages, Softcover $19.95
Reviewer: Mary Spiro Levin
One in every 150 American children has autism, the Centers for Disease Control reports. Autism is just one of twenty conditions described by this book's contributors, each fathering a disabled child.
The writers, all from the United Kingdom, share experiences universal to parents of children with disabilities. They feel helpless when faced with the diagnosis. They endure sleepless nights in hospitals with extremely sick children. They suffer disintegrating marriages. They express regret, sorrow, and anger for the impact that their disabled child's needs have upon siblings, careers, and social lives. At the same time, they rejoice when their children attain unexpected developmental milestones. Their stories evoke strong emotions---from tears to laughter.
As leaders in the UK-based organization Contact a Family, editors Harrison and Henderson have worked extensively with parents of disabled children. Leonard, an editor and contributor, is a physical education teacher and the parent of a disabled child.
Certainly this book fills a literary void for these fathers. Many said they felt shut out by support networks and services organized for mothers. Kevin, for instance, became his son's sole caregiver after his marriage broke up. He writes that he often tells his child's health care professionals, "Mum has no involvement---she sees him a couple of times a week. I'm the main carer, so come and tell me what's going on."
The book shows how men sometimes rely on career tactics to...