Published: 28/03/2016
ISBN: 9781785890499
Format: Paperback



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Ripples In A Pond
Is there a Jamie in your Neighbourhood?
by Sheila Shaw

Former deputy headteacher Sarah Chilton is very proud of her son Jamie. Believing him to be far ahead of his classmates in reading, writing and general knowledge, it seems to her he will sail through primary school without any problems. Unbeknown to Sara as he joins Year 2, however, it becomes more apparent that his social skills are discrepant. Inexplicably Jamie falls behind at school, finding it difficult to follow instructions and relate to his peers. His classmates encourage his strange behaviour, which annoys his teachers who believe that he is simply being rude and disruptive.

Sarah and her husband Matt have very different parenting styles, which often leads to arguments. Matt, along with his interfering elderly mother, believe that Sarah's more relaxed approach to parenting is the reason behind Jamie's unacceptable behaviour. As the years roll by, the Chilton family is rocked by a series of stressful events which affects the family dynamics, push Matt and Sarah further apart and affect all who come in contact with Jamie, hence, the title, Ripples in a Pond.

At their wits’ end, Jamie's teachers eventually seek professional advice. An unexpected diagnosis is reached which explains why his behaviour has been so unusual, but unable to accept it, Matt makes a seemingly irrevocable decision. Heartbroken, Sarah has to come to terms with her new reality: bringing up two children without her husband’s co-operation. Can her marriage survive, and Matt's relationship with Jamie, ever be fixed?

Ripples in a Pond is the poignant, humorously written tale of a family’s struggle to understand their child. It will appeal to those affected by, or wishing to learn more about, the difficulties faced by not only children with disordered social communication skills, but also their schools and families.

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Recently, I began reading Sheila Shaw's book Ripples in a Pond. This proved most fortuitous and it seemed that fate was playing a hand when it came into my possession because no sooner had I got a short way into the book when a situation arose in my domestic life that, had I not begun reading her book, I like most others would not have recognised what is proving to be a desperate situation. As it was, I together with many others had been acquainted with a young man 34 years of age and whilst we all thought that he 'was a bit odd' had no idea that he had and had been diagnosed as suffering from Asperger's Syndrome. Many had found his behaviour irritating on occasions but fortunately we had all tolerated it and I had to some extent befriended him. He then told me in passing when discussing why he, being very intelligent and with a family of three children and a non working wife to maintain had been out of work since February was now getting desperate. Had I not read part of Sheila's book, what he told me would have gone completely over my head but as a consequence of what I have read, I have managed to get a totally different attitude from his associates, some professional help with more to come, some of which might be lifelong. In conversation with these associates, not one of them had any idea of the characteristics of the condition, some had never even heard of it. I have passed my copy of the book around and am in the process of buying some more copies on line.

He was not diagnosed until he was 30. He was it seems given no advice on how to deal with it and the damage that must have been done in his formative years must have been considerable. It is fortunate that he appears at least to be remarkable resilient. The book is very readable not using any forbidding scientific jargon and in my opinion, is a 'must read' for all educationalists, youth group leaders clerics and everyone in positions of responsibility for the personal welfare of others.

by David Hutchins


 

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