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The Parents' Guide to Living Better with Autism, Dyslexia, ADHD and More ...

If you are one of those amazing professionals who help and support parents to get what their child needs, THANK YOU, you are heros! Please buy A Different Joy to give you a better insight into the strains and stresses that your parents are struggling with. Scroll down to find out more.

A Different Joy provides your roadmap through all of these concerns and more. Need to know more? Want to keep up to date? Join the Different Joy Club for information and support.


Table of Contents

  • Chapter 1: An Introduction to Sane-ish Parenting

    Love is a long-term proposition – We all want our children to be happy – Divorce, separation and mental health – Taking care of yourself – It’s a family affair: siblings, parents and other animals – To diagnose or not to diagnose? that is the question! – Learning about your children so you can advocate for them – Communicating with children who find talking difficult – Working with schools and settings – Parents deserve happiness too: why your life matters – Managing other parents – The world outside your home – Building resilience – Worrying about the future – From surviving to thriving.

  • Chapter 2: Diagnosis, Acceptance and Moving On

    There’s something different about my child! – Where can I go and who can help? – Are there any problems with going for a diagnosis? – Can diagnosis be helpful? – Diagnosis: the waiting game – Diagnosis, grieving and renewal – It’s my fault, why me? – Life after diagnosis: what next? – Learning from the best – Telling your child – New ideas, new friends – Snake oil and real help: how to tell the difference – What if I can’t find what my child needs?

  • Chapter 3: Know Your Child

    Information is Power – What information do you need? – Keeping track of successes – What is a special interest? – How can a special interest be useful to you as a parent? – What’s in the special interest for your child? – Their obsession is driving me mad: how can I manage it? – Special interests and school – Championing your child – Building bridges and finding common ground – A passion can lead to a career – Temple Grandin’s story – Special interests and motivation – Discovering what your child loves – What if the special interest isn’t age appropriate? – Getting anything else done – Building long-term skills –

  • Chapter 4: Neurodiversity - What type of Difference and when Does it Matter?

    What is neurodiversity? – Difference not deficit – Diagnostic labels and changing trends – Wenn Lawson’s story – What are Autism and Asperger Syndrome? – Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and attention deficit disorder (ADD) – Dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia and other learning difficulties – Speech language and communication needs (SLCN) – Disability or special needs? – Mental health. What’s the problem and why does it matter? – Single, dual and multiple diagnoses: the joys of disability bingo – Sensory differences: what you perceive is your reality – The difference between boys and girls – Where can I find out more?

  • Chapter 5: Surviving Competitive Parenting - Of Course it's Personal!

    Thunder on the horizon: when someone else spots something you haven’t noticed – Why hasn’t your child…(insert milestone here) yet? – Doesn’t everyone do that? We all do in our family! – Your child is not ‘accessing the curriculum’ – ‘Oh but it’s far too early to diagnose them with….’ – Parents under siege in the playground – Of course it’s Personal! – Dealing with defensiveness – Preparing for meetings: focus on the positives – Stop. Listen. Reflect – The impact of early intervention – Parents’ evenings and how to survive them (the good, the bad, and the IEP.

  • Chapter 6: Stamina - Keeping Going When it Seems Impossible

    Reality bites: it can be hard – Triage; what to de al with first and what next – D.I.V.O.R.C.E. and family breakdown – Parental mental health – Modelling emotional resilience – Exercise and stress relief: free endorphins anyone? – I need someone to listen to me! – How to listen to your child, even if they aren’t talking – Becoming an expert detective – Problem solving skills: testing 1-2-3 – Learning from the best and finding a champion – Great friends, great support.

  • Chapter 7: Family Dynamics, Siblings and Wider Family

    Some things run in families: and some don’t – Meeting unequal demands: everyone wants a piece of me! – Keeping relationships going – Sibling issues – Mothers, fathers, roles and recognising strengths – When partners don’t agree – The  gift of grandparents – Redressing the time balance: if only time travel were possible! – Communication, communication, communication – Everyone gets special time – If at first you don’t succeed, fail forward faster – Friends can be your family too – It may not work for everyone, but it works for us!

  • Chapter 8: Perfect Schools Don't Exist. How to Find the Best You Can

    Know your child – The best in the area might not be the best for you – Balancing social and emotional with education and academic needs – When is a special school the right choice? – What makes a good setting? – What your child’s teachers need you to know – Nowhere is perfect all of the time – When to carry on working with a school and when to move on – Helping a child who is really unhappy – The terror of transition – Nothing lasts forever: moving on.

  • Chapter 9: Bullying, Vulnerability and Resilience

    Why are children like ours so vulnerable? – Good friends, bad friends and manipulation – What is bullying? – Protecting your children online – Anxiety and sensory difficulties – Pain thresholds and sensory overload – Success, failure and the demon of perfectionism – How to support healthy self-esteem in your child – The failure factory and persistence. Edison, Bruce and other stories – Peer awareness, peer mentoring and anti-bulling programmes – Clubs and special interest groups – Understanding emotions, dealing with anger and frustration.

  • Chapter 10: From Surviving to Thriving

    Don’t Panic!- Change is scary but it can be good – Doing the most difficult job in the world with deep joy – Developing and modelling emotional resilience when things go wrong – Different is good, we need different – Uncovering the unique person the world needs to have – Voyage of discovery: celebrate what you have learned – Steering your child through their education – Creating a family where everyone is loved and valued – Living without regret – Dying at peace, knowing that your child will be OK – Learning to let go – Last word and thanks – Connect with Sarah-Jane Critchley – Different Joy Club


Meet the Author & Illustrator

Sarah-Jane Critchley

Sarah-Jane has been with the Autism Education Trust since June 2008 working with a range of stakeholders to improve educational provision for young people with autism and securing continuous funding from the UK Department for Education of nearly £6M since its inception. She has been instrumental in the development, monitoring and management of a number of workforce development programmes including training that has reached over 100,000 education-based staff in England since 2012. She is the internationally recognised author of 'A Different Joy: the parents' guide to living better with autism, dyslexia, ADHD and more...', has presented on autism education in China and Scotland, and has written for Charity Finance and ICSA. Sarah-Jane is working with colleagues in the UK, Italy and Greece as a member of the Transforming Autism Education project funded by the EU ERASMUS programme. She designed and delivered marketing programmes and training in the management of key clients for the construction Industry and implemented sales and marketing programmes for a newly privatised organisation.  She has had extensive operational and facilities management experience including leadership of over 100 staff and an operational budget in excess of £17M. Sarah-Jane holds a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) specialising in the management of change from City University. She is a mother to two autistic teenagers (a late-diagnosed girl and a boy) and a husband on the autism spectrum.

E M Critchley

E M Critchley was diagnosed with autism in March 2016 at the age of 16.  She drew the illustrations over the course of a year and is currently studying for 'A' Levels encouraged by her cats who sit with her for lessons (the perks of home-schooling!)