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This page was last updated: March 29, 2011
Here's What the Experts Are Saying About Parenting Your Complex Child:

"This is a thoughtful, thought-provoking, well-written and really helpful book.  It will be of great interest, and of great value, to both parents and professionals.  The author, the mother of a difficult, mixed-diagnosis ("complex") child perceives the terrain as a series of battlefields, and proffers her book as a "peace plan" that will minimize combat injuries to all parties, especially the child."

Well done! I like it!

Bernard Rimland, Ph.D.
Director, Autism Research Institute
Founder, Autism Society of America

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Lots of good information in navigating both the school systems and working with the medical community.

Temple Grandin, Ph.D., Author of Thinking in Pictures

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As a parent-cum-professional in the autism field for over 45 years, I applaud the energy and wisdom Peggy Lee Morgan has put into this book.  I believe the best success comes when parents assume professionals want to help, even if they don’t yet know how.  Such partnerships produce most of the best success stories in the field of autism.  Ms. Morgan is not only a skilled writer, but also a good story teller.  Her book should be a welcomed addition to the autism literature.

Ruth Christ Sullivan, Ph.D.
Founder, Executive Director of Autism Services Center
First President of Autism Society of America  (1968-1970)
Author, lecturer, activist, parent

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This book is so much more than a list of suggested responses to particular behaviors.  It's a detailed guide to understanding your child and building a place in the world for him or her from the ground up. Truly an amazing feat by any measure.  (Excerpt from the Foreword)

Kate Crow, MS, CGC, Genetic Counselor

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"Peggy Morgan gives a compelling first hand account of the challenges raising a child with a developmental disability. She provides a unique perspective on how to advocate for your child when the solutions seem out of reach.

Great way to make a difference with other parents who are struggling with similar challenges!”

Mary Lynn O'Brien, Developmental Pediatrician and Board Member,
NW Autism Foundation

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This book is written from the heart.  It presents an honest and open view of some of the many struggles encountered by the parents of highly challenging students with disabilities.  In her book, Parenting Your Complex Child Peggy Morgan shares some of these struggles, which include those with schools, doctors, social situations, and more.  She presents an honest reflection of her own frustrations and fears and shares a solution-focused perspective that proved successful.

As a participant in some of the struggles Peggy Morgan experienced on behalf of her highly unique and very special Billy Ray, I appreciated that we were able to establish the trust relationship necessary to move beyond the usual parameters within which professionals and parents often find themselves.  Ms. Morgan’s willingness to first step outside the typical and then to ask me to do the same made all the difference in our relationship and the program we were able to creatively develop for her son. 

Parents who are experiencing serious challenges in advocating on behalf of their challenging child should read this book.  Reading between the lines and finding the out-of-the-ordinary philosophical approach to partnerships between parents and those who provide services and supports allows parents and professionals alike to look at how they work together.  Ms. Morgan reminds us all to keep the focus of our efforts on the child and to maintain good working relationships in the face of adversity and differences.  She is right!

Heidi Schack, Director, Special Services, Silver Falls School District; Master’s of Science in Education and Standard Licensure in Special Education and School Administration.  

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“Peggy Morgan provides us with a touching, sincere account of Billy Ray's life....a most accurate, invaluable resource, as well, for families facing the constant challenge of dealing with profound developmentally challenged children/young adults.”

—Ed Ruden, M.D.

Parenting Your Complex Child
Atlanta Parent Magazine:  "Energy, wisdom, power and personal touch make this book a cut above the rest"
A Review of Parenting Your Complex Child by Andrena Lockley, Education Co-ordinator, Independent Living Centre, Waterloo Region

"Two essential words: communicate and adapt" and "advocating is not waging war" are just a couple of the advice gems in Peggy Lou Morgan's incredibly useful book entitled Parenting Your Complex Child. She offers excellent suggestions to parents and educators of children with multiple disabilities.

Morgan is the parent of 23 year old man named Billy Ray, who has autism, down syndrome, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), as well as bi- polar disorder. The combination has brought about unique and complicated hurdles for the family to overcome. She writes of the successes, setbacks and frustrations of the family in a way that only a parent could.

Morgan's book is based on her own experiences with her child, however, she states that she understands that all children are unique and modifications to the plans she suggests will be likely. Her "every child is different, but here's what worked for us" approach is incredibly valuable. The strength of this book is that she manages to put Billy Ray first both in life and in her analysis. Putting the child first means attempting to see through the eyes of the child and understand the frustration of not being understood as well as the difficulty in expressing one's needs and wants combined with the fear the child experiences when he/she is confused.

There are no steadfast rules as to what to expect with a complex child such as Billy Ray, or with any child for that matter, and Morgan knows this. What the text does is address the day to day problems as well as possible solutions, ranging from difficult morning routines, to hiring staff, dealing with physicians and other professionals, minimizing power struggles between adult and child and other such practical advice. Coming from a parent's perspective, Morgan addresses the hostility, fear and insensitivity of the outside world. This intolerance suffered by children with disabilities is one that is rarely addressed. Often times, parenting advice books suggest ways to make one's child fit in. Not Morgan, her main concern is having Billy Ray accepted for who he is—not who he could be. In addition, this book tackles complicated long term decisions for issues such as planning the child's future once you, the parent, are gone (again, a very delicate yet important topic that is rarely addressed in other advice books of this nature).

Morgan does not get lost in her own story. She offers anecdotes to be sure, but only as examples for the reader to better understand her child and situation. While sometimes it is therapeutic just to read the words of others going through similar situations, it is more beneficial to read the accompanying concrete, step-by-step instructions and suggestions.

For example in the first chapter she lays out some general characteristics of the complex child followed by a description of the difficulties she encountered. Next, she offers an easy to read chart that compares parenting approaches based on the complexity of the child. For example she has one column for a particular behaviour, another for the potential response by a parent to an average child; another for potential responses by parents to a less impacted developmentally child, then a final column for the potential response of to complex developmentally disabled child. It is a straightforward technique that helps to see the range of approaches in a given situation based on the child.

Morgan is a big believer in documenting everything. Throughout the book she suggests that the parents or care providers of a child with complex needs keep a journal as a record of medications, changes in function level and behaviour, as well as triumphs. This helps to find patterns. For example, is there a specific time of the day when a certain behaviour occurs? Is it after a certain medication or food? At the end of the book she offers several samples of how to chart all of this information to avoid losing any information and keeping it all organized. As Morgan explains several times in her book, these charts and journals are useful in meetings with educators, doctors and other professionals.

Certainly, this is not to suggest that the advice and solutions Morgan offers are fail-proof or always the answer, however, they are a place from which to start. She writes from a position of great strength and honesty, admitting her mistakes and offering them up for others to learn from. Morgan discusses the notion of creating community for the child; which in my view is a very powerful and important one. One I felt that could have been explored more deeply.

This is not the first parenting advice book of its kind. Others have outlined their experiences, offered suggestions and advice based on the lessons they have learned, but somehow Morgan manages to do all this in an easy to read manner that is neither preachy nor all knowing. She does well at presenting other perspectives, all the while keeping the child at the centre of her discussion. In addition to her own advice she offers outside sources such as books and websites throughout. This is a must read for any parent, care provider or educator of a child with multiple disabilities.

To read a sample chapter click here
Parenting an Adult with Disabilities or Special Needs:
Everything You Need to Know to Plan for and Protect Your Child's Future (AMACOM Books January 2009)
A sample chapter will be posted here when available from the publisher.
Peggy Lou Morgan continues the journey with Parenting An Adult with Disabilities or Special Needs.  This new book covers transition planning, training and finding services to help your adult child create a life that works for him or her as an individual.