Shut Up About Your Perfect Kid
A Survival Guide for Ordinary Parents of Special Children
Publication Date: August 3, 2010
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We are not in any way experts on parenting children with disabilities. Our goal is simply to share strategies that have worked for each of us in the event it may help those in a similar situation. If you’re different from us (i.e., you are bright or of the perfect persuasion), we advise you not to try the following at home.
On a “perfection-preoccupied planet,” sisters Gina and Patty dare to speak up about the frustrations, sadness, and stigmas they face as parents of children with disabilities (one with Asperger’s syndrome, the other with bipolar disorder).
This refreshingly frank book, which will alternately make you want to tear your hair out and laugh your head off, should be required reading for parents of disabled children. Shut Up About Your Perfect Kid provides wise and funny advice about how to:
• Find a support group—either online or in your community
• Ensure that your child gets the right in-school support
• Deal with people—be they friends, family members, or strangers—who say or do insensitive things to you or your child
• Find fun, safe, and inclusive extracurricular activities for your child
• Battle your own grief and seek professional help if you need it
• Keep the rest of the family intact in moments of crisis
GINA GALLAGHER is a highly imperfect mother and an award-winning copywriter. She lives in Marlborough, Massachusetts, with her husband, two daughters, and countless carpenter ants.
PATRICIA KONJOIAN is a freelance videographer who lives in Andover, Massachusetts, with her husband and three children. She has been on a diet since 1978.
"One of the best parts of the book is that these two moms sound like...well, two moms. And two very funny moms at that. So you’re going to laugh (a lot), and cry (a little), and you're going to hope for the best, and you’re going to pray that someone can help their kids, and best of all you’re going to know that you’re not alone. So if you were hoping for a dry, predictable reading experience, I’m quite certain you’ve selected the wrong book. Kids with social, emotional, and behavioral challenges aren’t dry and predictable, so hang on to your hat and bring along some tissues."
—Ross W. Greene, Ph.D., author of The Explosive Child and Lost at School
“Know, work with, or love a child with special needs? If so, Gina Gallagher and Patricia Konjoian’s Shut Up About Your Perfect Kid is the latest ‘must-read’ book on the subject. The sisters, whose wit and delivery could have landed them a gig on the stand-up circuit, share facts and funny stories about raising kids with disabilities while providing practical advice and identifying helpful resources. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll learn a lot about living well with challenge. Buy a copy for yourself . . . and two or three more for your friends with perfect kids!”
—KATE McLAUGHLIN, author of Mommy I’m Still in Here: One Family’s Journey with Bipolar Disease
“With truly masterful use of humor as a coping strategy, Shut Up About Your Perfect Kid authors Gina Gallagher and Patricia Konjoian address the challenges, the heartbreak, and the touching victories of parenting children with disabilities today. The book is a valuable and insightful resource for any family member or friend of a child with special needs. It conveys a wealth of practical information with a warmth and compassion that helps parents realize they are not alone.”
—DEIRDRE E. LOGAN, PhD, psychologist, Children’s Hospital Boston, and assistant professor of psychology, Harvard Medical School
“Anyone who has ever laughed while raising a child will love this book! Gina and Patricia really find the humor in special needs parenting—and they validate us all.” —SUSAN SENATOR, author of Making Peace with Autism and The Autism Mom’s Survival Guide
“Shut Up About Your Perfect Kid is the perfect antidote to a society obsessed with perfection. It was written by two sisters who both have children with unique challenges. Gina Gallagher and Patricia Konjoian have created an honest, humorous, and touching book that will make you laugh and cry, but most of all it will make you reevaluate how you look at other people in this world. Their journey is similar to that of many parents who have been filled with conflicting feelings about their children. But at the end of the day, instead of seeing their children’s differences, they see their determination and spirit. It’s that determination and spirit that has changed their lives in every way. It’s also what they would like the rest of the world to embrace. This book is a breath of fresh air to parents of kids with all sorts of abilities.”
—TRACY ANGLADA, executive director of BPChildren and author of Intense Minds: Through the Eyes of Young People with Bipolar Disorder
“This survival guide is a must-read for families of children with emerging and existing mental health conditions. Not only does this book provide highly practical advice, but it infuses that advice with real-life stories of families who have faced unthinkable challenges and come out on top. It offers hope to every family who has faced the dark side of stigma and the struggle of securing effective services and supports for their child. Families who read this book will truly understand that they are not alone. The road can be long and hard, but this book reminds us that on our journey, humor provides a powerful role in the struggle. Ordinary families will find themselves reading and rereading this guide as they come to appreciate the beauty of their unique and special child.”
—DARCY GRUTTADARO, director of the NAMI National Child and Adolescent Action Center
“Thank you, Gina and Patty, for reminding the world that our most cherished human qualities, courage and resilience among them, can never be captured by a test score or grade on a report card. Your book, your message, and your ‘Movement of Imperfection’ could not have arrived at a better time. Thanks to you, countless numbers of people, children and adults alike, will come to see their differences in a hopeful new light.”
—MARK KATZ, PhD, clinical and consulting psychologist, San Diego, California, and author of On Playing a Poor Hand Well