Tag Archives: growing up

Book review: The Growing Up Guide for Boys

This book review comes courtesy of @methreeandhe – The growing up book for boys by Davida Hartman.

I have a 13 year old boy who was adopted by us at the age of 6. Although he is not autistic, his attachment difficulties mean that he is emotionally young, struggles to recognise social clues growing up boysand is very black and white in his thinking. Although this book is aimed at boys on the autistic spectrum, I am aware of some similarities between attachment and autism and was interested to read it myself and for my son to read it. We have a very open approach to all things “personal” in our family with any question answered, yet there is always room for extra resources, if only to save me repeating myself.

I read the book from the beginning, although that is not necessary as the topics can be dipped into as required. What struck me was that it was full of advice that I find myself giving on a daily basis. Matters of hygiene, everyone is growing at different speeds, choose friends who are nice to you. It was good to have a book that reinforces our home messages about adolescence and gives another positive message rather than the variable ones heard on the playground.

The book is hard backed with illustrations facing every page of writing. It is divided into 14 very practical topics; bodies, hair, boy stuff, penises, hygiene, clothes, skin, emotions, crushes, friends, the internet, self protection, self acceptance, girls. Each topic is detailed in a clear way over two pages of text and two of illustrations. Often the first page of the topic details what is happening, the second page is saying what you can do to help yourself. It is written with one sentence per paragraph which I personally found quite annoying as it disrupted the flow of the text, however I do understand that for some of the young people the book is aimed at, this would help them to read it more easily.

The book has been billed for 9-14 year olds and I can see that boys of this age group would benefit from having a copy. For younger boys it would give them early information that they can revisit later, for older boys I think it will help to reinforce many of the good messages that they hear from their parents and answer some questions that they have become embarrassed to ask because they believe that they should already know the answers.

The book gives advice about appropriateness of information sharing, personal subjects and when/who to speak about them. There is a lot of practical information, such as putting a checklist in the shower to make sure you have done everything, putting your sheets in the wash if you have a wet dream, sitting down if you get an erection in public! Whilst much of the advice is encouraging independence and responsibility, the book often suggests that the boy speaks to their parents if they are worried or concerned about anything and encourages communication with people who can help.

The back of the book has a section with advice for parents and professionals on how to use the book, again encouraging communication.

I found it a delightful book to read, the illustration are great, especially the page of different penises! As a parent I found it affirming that I have been giving similar information and advice to my son. I am very happy for him to have the book to use for himself, there is some resistance to reading it but I think that is more about alternatives to reading, like computer games, than the book itself.

@methreeandhe was not paid for this honest review, but did receive a free copy of the book to review, and subsequently keep. Click here to buy the book.

Book review: The Growing Up Guide for Girls

Many thanks to MrsFO5 at The Family of Five for her review of The Growing Up Guide for Girls.

I was asked to review this book by the lovely ladies over at The Adoption Social. I have 3 growing up girlsadopted daughters all of whom have a diagnosis of Autism. I actually couldn’t believe it when they asked if i’d like to write a review, because they asked the same day that Big Girl, at just 10 years old,  started her first ever period. It was meant to be!

So first of all let me tell you about the physical aspects of the book. Its a hard backed book. Decorated beautifully using colors that aren’t offensive to your eyes. The pages inside the book are thick quality, gloss finished, smooth paper and the smell is just that lovely new book smell. You may think it strange that I’ve mentioned these things but actually the feel of a page in a book is important to Middle girl, she doesn’t like textured paper, she says it ‘feels funny’.  The smell of a book is something that Baby girl notices straight away, she will avoid reading books that don’t have a pleasant smell.

Now before I start, let me just get straight to the point, I love this book, I love everything about it and its been really useful for all of the girls, and the added benefit at arriving in our lives at just the right time.

I’ve bought several books in the past to use with Big girl to prepare her for puberty and the changes that were happening to her body. Unfortunately I never found a book (until now) that I’ve been truly happy with and have found myself saying to her things like ‘don’t worry about this section, you don’t need to know about that bit yet’.  Every book I bought covers sex and how to make babies, some in vast amounts of details that even I found shocking and some with brief descriptions about confusing ‘special cuddles’ that adults have. None of which I have felt were appropriate for Big girl. Whilst Big girl is now 10 years old, her difficult start in life has meant that she is no where near as socially and emotionally developed as most typical 10 year old’s. I tell people to think aged 6 or 7, when considering Big girls needs and quite frankly the idea of a boy putting his penis inside her vagina in what ever type of fluffy special cuddle they used to describe it, would just frighten her.

I started talking to Big girl about puberty just before her 9th Birthday. She was starting to show the physical signs of development so I figured It best to make sure she was as prepared as she could be. The austim support services were able to provide us with some useful visual reminder charts and her school worker was able to spend some time talking to her about it also. But as Big girl is rather avoidant about things, whilst she sits and listens to me, I cant be sure how much she takes in. So, I bought books, quite a few of them actually, I only gave her one though and it came with instructions from me about how this section and that chapter weren’t relevant and she shouldn’t worry about them, I’m sure she read them, probably got very confused as well.

This book is like no other book I’ve come across, it is exactly what It says on the cover ‘A growing up guide for girls’. It doesn’t just cover puberty, it covers friends, crushes, the internet, it even covers stranger danger. It covers everything I think girls need to know about when entering adolescence, without filling their brains with too much complicated babble or terrifying them with things they don’t need to know about yet. I will add that the section that covers ‘Periods’ is a great section that provides you with an introduction, allowing you the opportunity to talk about this in more detail when appropriate.

As I said at the start, this book arrived at the time Big girl has started her 1st period. Whilst I’d taken every step possible to prepare her (which I’ll add seems to have done the trick, she coped remarkably),  I hadn’t prepared Baby girl or Middle girl for the changes they would see happening to Big girl.  For example, those first few days they asked ‘Why is Big girl eating sweets in the toilet?’, They could hear the rustling of packets and assumed she was eating. ‘Why is Big girl’s bedroom door shut?’ etc etc you get the picture.

So this book was a great opportunity for me to introduce them to puberty and adolescence in a very basic and age appropriate way for them. There was an interesting moment when reading the section on ‘breasts’ that Baby girl very innocently asked me ‘whats tits?’, poor Daddy nearly choked on his tea. After reading the whole book with Baby girl and Middle girl and answering the very few questions they had, I passed the book to Big girl. She read it, cover to cover, I doubt there was much in there she didn’t already know, but I’m confident it served as a great reminder for her without being too overwhelming. Her reply as she handed me the book back was ‘I like the idea of puppy fat’. You’ll just have to read the book yourself to see what she was talking about!

I’m sure this book will be one that will be revisited by us over and over again, with 3 girls in the house there will be times when we need to talk about all of the sections in this book, from boobs, hygiene and crushes, to friendships and internet safety, It really does cover so much. I’d strongly recommend this book to anyone who has girls entering adolescence, autistic or not. Although there is mention of autism within the book, I think the bulk of the book would be useful for any girl. In fact I think it would be great if they published a ‘general’ version that excluded the few references to Autism. Its a must have for any girl aged 7 upwards I feel.

My only regret with this book, is that we didn’t find it sooner, I could have saved a fortune on books!

The Family of Five did not receive payment for this book, although did receive the book free of charge in order to review it. Click here to buy the book.

A Book Review – What is Happening to me?

Once I had peeled myself off the ceiling after, what in our house is fondly known as “porn gate”, I realised my son and I needed to have that talk.

It’s easy, now a days, to leave this to school, I have been quite shocked with just how much they cover by year six. However, nothing really sticks in your mind like that awkward chat with a parent.

book1Being real here, it’s not always easy to know where to begin and when your child may have experienced sexual abuse or been exposed to violent relationships having a safe tool to help you a long is invaluable.

Someone recommended this book to me, and I’m so glad they did.

The Usbourne book What’s Happening to me? The blue one for boys.

The immediate thing to like about this book are the graphics. Whilst being accurate and intimate they are illustrations which in no way feel frightening. The book reads like a kind and sensitive voice of a trustworthy adult who gets how embarrassing all this could be.

So whilst it’s easy to read with your child, it is also a book I have happily left with my son to read,when he wants to. My son is eleven and my ten year old has also read it.

It starts with a soft introduction of “growing up” but soon moves on to changes in the body. It real does deal with everything. Not that it answers all the questions but it provides the base for many a discussion.

My son recently asked me a particular question about bodily fluids and we were able to use the book to scientifically explain and then discuss. It was good for me to have a starting point.

I particularly like the page entitled “other boys look different” helping or young adults to understand about body image.

The book also has sections on emotions, cleanliness and increased responsibility as well as why girls are different. I haven’t seen the version for girls (pink cover) but I can only imagine that is very similar in style and writing.

For me this book has been a great tool for talking about a subject that through media and environment our emotionally vulnerable children are required to face. It provides a safe way of dealing with what I know I they need to know without alarming them.