I just finished reading another amazing Cathy Glass book called Saving Dannny. It came out a year or so ago but I just never got around to reading it.
Danny is five years old. He has undiagnosed learning disabilities and his parents voluntarily ask for him to be put into care because the mother is not coping and the father seems extremely absent. Cathy has to go out that first day with school staff and police and actually physically find Danny who ran away terrified when his mother and social worker told him he was going into care. Any young child might have that reaction bghut with his cognitive/ processing issues it was even more pronounced. . With Cathy’s calm patient manner she manages to find Danny and carry him to her care. From that first night Danny’s special needs are clear. He can only speak in short sentences and he has a delay in understanding what is said to him. He eats by sorting his food into specific patterns, and all his food has to be separated by color and texture. After dinner he erupts into a tantrum about wanting George. It takes Cathy a lot of patience and calming a meltdown to figure out that George is his beloved pet rabbit that he takes care of faithfully. Danny is able to express that he wants George to come stay with Cathy. While this isn’t normal to have a child’s pet stay with him in this situation with the rabbit living outside and his need for his companion she believes it won’t be a problem.
The next day Cathy meets Reva Danny’s mother. Reva is extremely depressed and unable to cope at all with Danny. She hands Cathy a very long routine about exactly how to try and handle every little situation. This is clearly a desperate attempt to stop any outbnurst/ tantrum and some of it is simply giving Danny his way. Cathy decides to use what makes sense and throw the rest out. She has a very realistic view as she gets to know Danny, about what is truly a need based on his disability and what is him trying to get his way like any child would. She skillfully puts firm but loving boundaries in place while widening Danny’s world. His mother was so anxious about Danny’s behavior and being embarrassed in public that she was basically stuck in the house all the time never going to any activities or interacting with extended family. Cathy and her family work hard at giving Danny these missed experiences and though it takes patience creativity and time Danny more often than not meets the challenge of something new and ends up enjoying it over time.
George proves to be a huge source of love and self expression for Danny. Danny is totally competent in caring for George. He’ll sit with George for long periods just cuddling and can express his feelings through talking to George. It’s so emotional to see him be able to do this when he’s so unable to emotionally connect with others or express his own feelings.
Throughout the book Cathy and her family are very committed to working with Dany and his family. I liked that the book focused on a child with special needs and the extra things it takes to care for such a child as a foster parent. Most of Cathy’s kids have behavioral problems that aren’t actual long term disabilities. I’d like to see more of her books if possible focus on any child she’s had that has for example deafness, blindness, or other serious mental illness. She did so with Jodie in a book called Damaged which I’ll be sure to review. I feel like if any foster carers or adopted parents have children that they’ve had the rollercoaster of coping with and are comfortable writing about it they need to. Even if it’s not a happy ending. Other families need to know that they aren’t alone and that their kids can be helped or that there is support out there.
One thing that bothered me was how Cathy’s kids would get embarrassed at Danny’s outbursts. At times they seemed to be a big help but often Cathy talked about going places alone with danny and her kids opting to stay home or go out with friends. This wasn’t reall emphasized in other books the kids being embarrassed or turned off by a child they’re looking after and it just bugged me. Then again they are just kids and shouldn’t be expected to stay with a child who’s in a meltdown or know the right reactions or mature reactions.
I highly recommend this book and wish more like it were written about kids with special needs and how to best care for them.
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