AskTheManager Book Review: Staging a Miracle: A Practical Parent’s Guide To Surviving an Autism Diagnosis

Call this post a digression (if you think this book has nothing to do with leadership) or call it a stretch (if you see, as I do, that this little book has some very big lessons for all of us). I read several books a month – all non-fiction – but few books ever rise to the level of a review on this blog. Most don’t deserve it, they’re just crap; while some cannot be shoehorned enough to be called leadership lessons. Staging a Miracle is one bright and shiny exception.

Author Jason Eden captures beautifully the frustration and trepidation truly dedicated parents feel when they are searching for clues and cures for whatever ails their children. I write “truly dedicated parents,” because – as you’ll learn in his book – not all parents are truly dedicated. For me, this was one of about a dozen leadership lessons that leapt off the pages at me and literally slapped me in the face. For parents of Autistic children (and those who care for the Autistic) his words should slap you into the reality that everything about your child’s progress (or regress) can be laid directly at your feet.

This is not to say that everything is the parents’ fault – that is not what Eden is saying in my opinion. What he is saying, explicitly, is that parental involvement (among many other factors) is critical. What I really like about Staging a Miracle: A Practical Parent’s Guide To Surviving an Autism Diagnosis is that Eden doesn’t just talk about involvement as if it were a bad cliché. Instead, he explains in a step-by-step manner exactly what involvement entails. Everything about this book is presented as plain language, practical advice. And unlike most leadership “experts,” Eden doesn’t just throw out words like involvement or tough love, he explains what they mean for and to the parent, the caregivers and especially the affected children.

“Well Timothy, it looks like Aunt Susan wants you to have the Autism”

In what might be the funniest thing I’ve ever read, Jason Eden sums up tough love with these shocking words in front of a well-meaning, but misguided relative who was undermining the progress he and his wife were making with their child. This is one lesson that all leaders should read and heed. Tough love is something that has been missing in American schools for 30 years, American homes for 20 years and American businesses for 10 years.

While I would love to dissect every chapter of this well-written work right here (because the book really is that good), that would leave you little reason to read Eden’s book on your own. Suffice it to say that Eden’s take on Autism care and treatment is a breath of fresh air. Unlike books written by so-called “experts,” Eden has no ulterior motives: He clearly only wants to help his kid live a normal life (my words, not necessarily his). This book takes parents through everything from how to select a school when you have a child with Autism to what you need to say to therapists and others who may not have your child’s best interests at heart.

Unlike the so many misguided books on the subject, he is not selling a thing; and his opinions are based on real results and logic, not on hype and wishes. This is as much a guide for parents with kids on the spectrum as it is a guide for anyone who deals with the Autistic. His advice is sound, and his dedication to helping his son is clear throughout. I highly recommend it.