My Child's Different

by Elaine Halligan

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LoveReading Expert Review of My Child's Different

An insightful and helpful book with a compelling story that instils the importance of positivity in parenting and everyday life.

Born from Elaine Halligan’s experiences of raising her son Sam, each chapter in My Child is Different deals with a specific stage of childhood and development. The format is simple and easy to follow when reading the book from cover to cover, or locating a specific age or time frame. 

Elaine’s story in its own right is insightful and honest, allowing the reader to find out about Sam’s development and some of the obstacles that were faced by the entire family.  The additional content from Melissa Hood deals specifically with the events in each chapter, any specific underlying causes as well as broader behaviour examples before efficiently providing a range of possible solutions or parenting changes that could help to provide a marked improvement. 

This book has something for everyone. The recollection of Elaine and Sam’s hard work and endurance is compelling; Melissa's helpful advice, explanations and techniques are perfect not only as parenting techniques but also as points for reflection for interacting with people in the world around you. In the Epilogue, Elaine states the ways that using positive parenting skills has made her more accepting and can help to get the best out of everyone. I would definitely recommend.


My Child's Different Synopsis

With contributions from parenting expert Melissa Hood. Drawing lessons from the transformational journey of a young man who was written off by society but went on to become a budding entrepreneur, My Child's Different explores the enabling role that parents can play in maximising the potential of children who are seen as `different' or `difficult'. In My Child's Different Elaine Halligan - a mother of two - tells the true story of her son Sam, who by the age of seven had been excluded from three schools and was later labelled as having a whole host of conditions, ranging from autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) to pathological demand avoidance (PDA) to severe dyslexia. He had become `the alphabet kid'. His parents never gave up on him, however, taking positive parenting courses and researching all kinds of different therapies to support him. They believed he was a good and capable person, and that belief in turn gave Sam resilience, grit and an ability to persevere in the face of adversity. My Child's Different is much more than a tale of one boy's educational challenges. It gives hope to all parents and carers who for a variety of reasons may be concerned about what the future holds for their children, and demonstrates how, with the use of positive parenting skills, all children's potential can be unlocked. My Child's Different is a celebration of all the unique qualities those who are different bring to society.

About This Edition

ISBN: 9781785833281
Publication date: 31st August 2018
Author: Elaine Halligan
Publisher: Crown House Publishing
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 192 pages
Primary Genre Parenting

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My Child's Different Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.

This book is a useful tool for for parents whose child is "slightly different", and who want to try and find out why. It can be a long road to diagnosis, but here you can find out some of the answers and learn about various neurodiverse conditions and their acronyms! Sadness, prejudice and reality sit alongside humour in this amazing book.

This is a great book for anyone whose child seems to be struggling with life in general. It portrays the neurodiverse child with sensitivity, accuracy and a good dollop of humour, told from the perspective of the parent and the professional. Although not a long book, it is a good self starter for parents setting out on the uncertain road to diagnosis, explaining acronyms such as ADHD and IEP which all parents of such children are certain to encounter. The story of Sam is interwoven between the facts, and gives hope to parents worrying about how their child will cope throughout life. It ends on a positive note giving hope to both parents and children alike. I really enjoyed reading it!

Lizzy Dingemans

A must read for any parent or professional person coping with a child with challenging behaviour.

My Child’s Different is an amazing insight into dealing with a child diagnosed with many of the acronyms we hear about today. ADHD, ADD, ASD – the list seems to get added to every year! Autism, dyslexia, tourettes, I’m sure many of us are aware of children with these ‘labels’, plus those just known as ‘difficult’ or ‘naughty’. For anyone who has a child like this, or for professionals who work with challenging children on a daily basis, reading this book would be an absolute must as it offers many useful strategies and helpful insights to transform the lives of both children and their families.
The author’s son, Sam, had been excluded from 3 schools by the age of 7, and if his parents, both intelligent professional people, hadn’t explored every avenue to help their son, he could well have ended up in jail or a mental asylum. Their long and often difficult struggle is a testimony to parenting at it’s best, and although there is never any ‘quick fix’ when dealing with problems such as this, the good news is that if you stick at it and follow the correct advice, you can improve your child’s life beyond recognition, and ensure a positive and productive future, as Sam has now proved.

Sue Packer

My Child's Different - a worthwhile read for everyone working with children and parents too

As a mum of 2 who has worked with children in a variety of settings over the past 16 years, this was an interesting (and sometimes emotional) book as Sam and his family tried to find the correct educational establishments to meet his specific learning needs and to make his life less stressful.

Thank you to Elaine and Sam for sharing their story so eloquently. Hopefully this book will inspire other families to keep pushing for their own child/children to find the correct school to help them. Having worked in the SENCO team in a Primary School, I believe our Education Secretary and Shadow Education Secretary need to read this too, to consider increasing the number of specialist schools.

However this book isn’t just aimed at parents and educators of children who are ‘different’, but gives advice to all parents about using positive parenting skills to encourage their children to grow up into resilient adults.

A worthwhile read for everyone working with children and parents too.

Karen Kingston

Really insightful book which tells of a families journey as they navigate a diagnosis for their son Sam and the help and advice they receive on the way. Loved it. Makes you realise how every child is different and every family comes in a different size

I really enjoyed this book which was about the life of Sam who had many difficulties as he grew up and navigated our school system. Unlike a lot of books where you see the child's jouney through school this book goes beyond that through to adulthood.

I found the narration told by his Mum very easy to read and could relate to bits of each chapter even though my children are both currently developing 'normally' I loved Elaine's honesty and I loved the parenting advice from Melissa Hood at the end of each chapter.

I think most parents could benefit from reading this book what ever their children are like as its a lovely honest read and fabulous account of one families journey with their son.

Well done Elaine and Sam:)

Katie Lonsdale

It wasn't what I expected although I was able to read the whole book.

I was disappointed in this book as I was expecting to have the entire story about Sam and how his parents, sister, friends and school coped with his numerous disabilities. He had so many disabilities that they called him the “ALPHABET KID”. Unfortunately, you only got bits and pieces of his journey. When you have a child in need of assistance, you really struggle first to get a diagnosis, then the right help for their child. It may take many tests and trials to find the one that works for you child.

The way it was written was also unconventional. It would have been much better, I feel, if you had a chapter about a certain problem dealing with Sam and then a smaller chapter about how to deal with it.

This book will be great for students who are going to be working with children and young adults in any capacity. It can teach them how to understand and treat them with confidence and a greater understanding.

Diana Mason

An interesting book purely because of it's difference.

This is the story of Sam ...and his family.

The author is Sam's mother a here she tells how Sam's list of conditions were brought out into the open by being given a name for society to hold on to. She tells of how the rest of the world seems to love the "perfect" child but because of ASD and dyslexia amongst other problems Sam and all the family have had to be as outcasts in a world that should understand. Schools have expelled Sam all due to non understanding and he is seen as the odd one out.

The story tells of what Sam and his family have gone through in everyday life - from birth to growing into an adult this is a true life story of the trials and tribulations as well as the love of one family for their son.

An interesting book purely because of it's difference. If you have never gone through this sort of life story then you can never truly understand. This book gives just a little inkling into life as others may know it and teaches you to be a little less selfless.

Jen Moville

This book is about the struggles parents have with SEN children and the inspirational suggestions to help the child when they struggle.

My Child’s Different is truly an eye opening book about the difficulties parents have when children have special needs, the struggles they face not just with the LEA but with having to learn new parents skills.

It is an inspirational book, brimming with ideas on how to encourage children that are different or who do not conform. As well as showing parents how to deal with difficult situations.

I especially love the format of the book where you get the parents view, Sam's thoughts & then the professional opinion as well as follow up with further reading.

After finishing the book I felt happy and hopeful for the future of my children & I will definitely be lending this great book to my friends to read.

Maisie Hoang

An honest and inspirational true story of a family's journey in striving to discover a positive and supportive network for their son with special needs. The eventual result is a delight.

When Elaine Halligan came to terms with the fact that her son's challenging behaviour was due to specific special needs, she and her husband, Tony, began a long and painful process in attempting to determine a diagnosis and to secure the best educational setting to meet his needs. Her writing is vivid, emotive and at times quite harrowing. I had tears in my eyes when I read her description of being in a packed train carriage where she felt completely out of control at managing Sam's behaviour and heard herself saying: "My child is autistic. I need your support, not your judgement as I am dealing with a disabled child." When she got off at the next station miles from home, she sat on a bench and wept. Sam immediately comforted her.

What makes this book different is that it is a highly readable story, yet acts as a self-help manual; each little chapter offers useful advice from Melissa Hood, a parenting expert, ideas for further reading and reflective comments from the author. Having worked with special needs' families, one area which often caused frustration for them was trying to find reading material which was 'family friendly', not peppered with jargon or incomprehensible information and offered both comfort and support. Elaine's book meets that need.

Having experienced a range of schools, each with varying ways of supporting children, and being excluded from three of them, it is a joy to learn that Sam found his own creative and innovative path and is now achieving great success and self satisfaction as an adult. I especially liked reading his reflective and insightful comments on his transformational journey.

My Child's Different would appeal to any reader who is interested in children, education and the pressures of family life in modern society but above all to any parents who sense that their child is not like other children. I loved it!

Val Rowe

My Child's Different is a frank and honest account of how one Mum and family fought for her son's education in order for him to achieve his potential. A real eye opener.

My Child's Different by Elaine Halligan is essentially a diary of all the events encountered during her son Sam's childhood. Finding out why and how he is different to other children, how it impacted on him, the rest of the family, friends and his education. Reading this book was both interesting, emotional and educational. I found myself in tears on more than one occasion. The technicalities of Sam's diagnosis and how the family dealt with this ongoing onslaught of problems and hurdles to overcome were an eyeopener. There are many links to other information that may be useful. The fall out which affected Sam's sister in a big way as she was not ignored but certainly overlooked, and the strain it put on Elaine's relationship with her partner.

An inspiring read which really puts forward the knowledge that a parent really does know what's best for their child told in an honest and thought provoking way. Many parents would benefit from reading this book whether they have a child with special educational needs or not as it promotes positive parenting and the strength required to keep fighting the constant battle to achieve an education that is right for your child and not just what the system decide is the easiest or cheapest option. 

Glenda Worth

An informative and thought-provoking book, written in an accessible style. Sam's journey from troubled, misunderstood child to thriving adult is inspirational. A worthwhile read for parents, teachers and professionals working with young people.

This is an amazing book; both enjoyable to read and informative. It is written in a very accessible style and I liked the way that Sam’s voice came through clearly. The story of his education is told from its beginnings at nursery right through university and beyond. He is obviously a remarkable young man, who has been supported all the way by inspiring family.

The book would appeal to professionals who work with young people, as well as parents. The advice from Melissa Hood, parenting coach, at the end of each chapter is both succinct and thought-provoking. I am a parent and a teacher and it has made me think about the way in interact with both my own children and those in my class. In fact, it has piqued my interest in Elaine Halligan’s approach which she shares via “The Parent Practice” and I am now following her Facebook page.

Sam’s journey shows how hard parents have to work to get their children’s differences recognised and an appropriate way forward put into place. The story of this family is one of success and is heartening to read, but it made me think of all the children who end up being excluded from school.

I would recommend this book if you have enjoyed Rupert Isaacson’s Horse Boy books and also Arabella Carter-Johnson’s Iris Grace, both detailing the lives of “different” but equally brilliant children.

Sarah Hamid

A thought provoking refelction on the struggles of a family coming to terms with having a 'different' son. A great read for anyone struggling with a 'difficult' child.

Elaine Halligan has written an accessible and engagingly honest account of bringing up a child with a range of learning conditions. The warmth with which Halligan writes makes My Child’s Different a must read for any parent regardless of whether your offspring has academic challenges. By laying bare the struggles that her family encountered trying to ‘do the best’ for her son, Halligan highlights the ‘trauma’ that every member of a family endure when individual members don’t conform to society’s norms. In so doing My Child’s Different allows the reader a new level of empathy for those parents with ‘problem children’ and provides mechanisms by which we can all be better parents.

The addition of closing analysis by Melissa Hood, a trained professional, for each section perfectly compliments the more anecdotal/memoir style of the author into a specific list of reflections and further reading. The reflections of Sam (the child in question) raises the understanding of the reader further allowing us to see inside the mental processes of a child who sees the logic in their own actions whilst external viewers can not.

My Child’s Different was a quick read but packed with real solutions for those struggling with children given often damaging diagnostic labels and perhaps teaches us all to be less judgemental and more tolerant of those ‘naughty children’ we all encounter.

Helen Precious

My Child’s Different by Elaine Halligan is not only an inspiring memoir; it is also an informative and useful guide to positive parenting. Interesting and well-written!

As a mother, grandmother and retired teacher, I was delighted to be given the chance to read and review My Child’s Different by Elaine Halligan.
The author describes the journey her family made to unlock her son’s potential. Sam had a very difficult start, being diagnosed with various syndromes, but still being labelled as “naughty” and “disruptive”. Eventually, after a turbulent ride through the education system, Sam’s parents found the right setting for him. By the end of the book, we see the young man that Sam has become – resilient, creative, well able to cope and thrive in the world.
This is not only a memoir of a family trying to cope with a child with Special Educational Needs; it is much more. Each chapter includes a contribution from Melissa Hood, a parenting and behaviour coach, who gives her expert advice and guidance on how to support children as they grow – and often struggle - towards maturity. I was particularly interested in the sections about descriptive praise and emotion coaching. Seeing how these approaches were used with Sam was very helpful and encouraging – I wish I had been able to learn about these many years ago!
The book is well written, interesting and informative. Not only a guide for parents of children with special needs, it provides strategies and ideas for all parents to use. Elaine Halligan has included a list of resources and books for further reading, which certainly adds to the value of this excellent book.

Angela Thomas

Having a child that has high functioning autism myself, I was quite keen to read about the struggles another family had encountered and got through. A great read to anyone with a "special" child.

This book is an honest account of how hard it can be when you have a son that is not considered "normal". A compelling and touching account of how one family never gave up on their "different child".

Throughout the book, my heart went out to Izzy, Sam's sister as she was often overlooked due to the time focused on helping her brother and the effect it had on her long-term.

Written with extracts from the perspectives of a parent, child and their support worker makes it a practical read as well as a heartfelt one.

Many parenting tips and suggestions are also included.

Sharon Butler

Potentially life-changing reading for parents and professionals.

Potentially life-changing reading for parents and professionals, My Child’s Different is an inspiring and honest account, challenging and heart-warming in equal measure. Short, chronological chapters chart the story of Sam and his family from infancy to adulthood, paired with useful and thoughtful annotations from Sam himself, his mother Elaine and parenting coach Melissa Hood. Each chapter offers an opportunity for reflection and further reading. The overall message is one of hope, with a clear charge to schools and colleges to enable the square pegs to find a place of welcome and acceptance.

Marion Burns

Other editions of this book

ISBN: 9781785833281
Publication date: 31/08/2018
Format: Paperback

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About Elaine Halligan

Elaine Halligan is a director at The Parent Practice and has been a parenting facilitator and coach since 2006, providing private consultations as well as delivering hundreds of workshops within schools and nurseries across London and the Home Counties. She is frequently quoted in the broadsheet press and regularly appears on Sky News, BBC local radio and BBC world news.

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