A Different Joy: A Parents’ Guide to Living Better With Autism, Dyslexia, ADHD & More by Sarah-Jane Critchley is essential reading for anyone living with or caring for a child who has learning difficulties in the autistic spectrum. It should also be compulsory reading for everyone working with children and young people, in any capacity, whether as caretaker or Head Teacher of a school or as Scout/Guide leader or Youth Club worker.
In her open, personal and informative account of the difficulties and complexities of raising two children with challenging needs, Sarah-Jane Critchley manages to educate without preaching and to comfort without being patronising.
This book is a manual and a counselling session in one. In short sections like Can diagnosis be helpful? and What is neurodiversity? under their clear Chapter Headings, Critchley gives concise, factual information that is unbiased and easy to digest.
She also discusses Divorce, separation and mental health and other personal issues faced by parents under pressure. However, the overriding emphasis of this book is love.
The tone of A Different Joy is personal and often conversational. In her Acknowledgments Critchley points out that ‘any errors in spelling, grammar or punctuation are all mine, and are there to make those of you who enjoy looking for them happy.’ This is the tongue-in-cheek, light tone that the writer adopts on many occasions to avoid sounding self-important or all-knowing. Despite this lightness, A Different Joy is a serious and useful book that offers advice and support, written by the Programme Head of Autism Education Trust.