My Child’s Different: : The lessons learned from one family’s struggle to unlock their son’s potential

Product code: 9781785833281

£12.99 exc. VAT

by Elaine Halligan

Available end of August 2018 – pre-order now.

Explores the enabling role that parents can play in bringing the best out of children who are seen as ‘different’ or ‘difficult’. A book for educators as well!

Foreword by Dr Laura Markham.

Society favours children, and adults, who conform. The notion that our children may be shunned for being ‘different’ breaks our hearts, but there is plenty we can do to help such children develop into thriving, resilient adults.

In My Child’s Different, Elaine shares the true story of her son Sam, who by the age of seven had been excluded from three schools and was later labelled with a whole host of conditions – ranging from autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) to pathological demand avoidance (PDA), before finally being diagnosed with dyslexia. He had become ‘the Alphabet Kid’. His family never gave up on him, however …

Drawing lessons from Sam’s transformational journey from difficult child to budding entrepreneur, My Child’s Different offers encouragement to parents who may be concerned about what the future might hold, and demonstrates how – with the right support and positive parenting skills – their children can grow up to surprise and delight them.

The book chronicles Sam’s journey from birth to adulthood, allowing readers to spot past and present patterns that may be comparable with their own children’s experiences, and provides pragmatic parenting advice that will be of benefit to any parent whose children – who may or may not have a diagnosed learning difficulty – struggle with life educationally or socially. Elaine writes with warmth and compassion as she revisits the challenges faced, the obstacles overcome and the key interventions that helped instil in Sam a sense of self-belief, a drive to succeed and an emotional intelligence beyond his years.

Interspersed throughout the narrative are the reflections and insights of parenting expert Melissa Hood, who illustrates the key concepts from Sam’s story and shares practical positive parenting techniques to help parents better connect with their children. Also included are contributions from Sam himself – providing an additional, uniquely rich perspective that will help deepen parents’ understanding of their children’s feelings and emotions.

Suitable for parents, educators and anyone who works with children, My Child’s Different is a celebration of all the unique qualities that those who are different bring to society.

Chapters include:

  1. Us, and Our Blue-Eyed Boy (The Calm Before the Storm)
  2. I’m Sure It’ll All Be Fine (Pre-School)
  3. Naughty, Stupid Little Child (Primary School)
  4. There Has to Be Another Way (Out of School)
  5. This Changes Everything (Back to School)
  6. Revealing the Diamond (Secondary School)
  7. Moving On Up (Sixth Form)
  8. Anything Is Possible (Adulthood)

Pub: Aug 2018


  1. Susan Stiffelman, marriage and family therapist and author of Parenting without Power Struggles and Parenting with Presence27th June 2018

    Elaine Halligan’s My Child’s Different is a must-read for any parent bringing up a child who is seen as ‘different’ or ‘difficult’. The unique combination of her personal account of Sam’s troubled early years together with the contributions of positive parenting expert Melissa Hood makes this a practical, inspirational read for any parent worried about what the future looks like for their child.

  2. Sir Richard Branson, business magnate, investor, philanthropist and founder of the Virgin Group27th June 2018

    It is really important that we provide young people with the support they need to succeed, and to understand dyslexia as a different and brilliant way of thinking. Alternative thinking can spur creativity and innovation and has the power to change the world. This book shows how with the right support, young people can maximise their potential.

  3. Paul Dix, Executive Director, Pivotal Education and author of When the Adults Change, Everything Changes27th June 2018

    Compelling, engaging and eloquently written, My Child’s Different is also brutally honest, as Elaine Halligan takes you inside the chaos of special needs provision and sheds light on the stark realities of social exclusion.

    Elaine and Sam’s journey is an incredible story of hope, and its retelling in this book is perfectly balanced with positive parenting theory, practical guidance and the intense unconditional love that all parents will relate to.

    Every parent needs to read My Child’s Different.

  4. Naomi Richards, life coach, The Kids Coach – – and author of The Parent’s Toolkit and Being Me (and Loving It)27th June 2018

    Many parents raising a child with SEN can find getting the help they need a struggle, but in My Child’s DifferentElaine Halligan provides hope to these families. Written in an easy-going, down-to-earth tone, this book offers an incredibly insightful and honest account of her own family’s journey and provides useful strategies that parents can use with their children.

    Every child is different and every child can reach their potential. My Child’s Different just proves it. I will definitely be recommending it to parents I come into contact with.

  5. Kelly Pietrangeli, author and ‘Mama Motivator’, Project Me for Busy Mothers27th June 2018

    My Child’s Different could only have been written by a parent who’s been there and successfully come out the other side. It will inspire parents who may be feeling at their wits’ end over how to cope and how to best support their ‘challenging’ child.

    Elaine’s deeply moving and personal account of her son Sam’s journey – and how well he’s turned out – will offer plenty to save parents from catastrophising about what will become of their child, and her guidance will instead put them into a more proactive mode to overcome the challenges faced. Any parent with a child who has been diagnosed with learning or behavioural difficulties, or simply feels that their child is in some way ‘different’, will find great relief here.

    An important book that will undoubtedly change many lives for the better, My Child’s Different is also a must-read for educators and anyone working with children so that they can gain a better understanding of how to support their challenging students, and be able to recommend this book to their families.

  6. Judy Reith, parenting coach, author and founder of Parenting People – June 2018

    In My Child’s Different Elaine Halligan has had the imagination and the wisdom to tell her story both as a mother and as someone with skills and training in parenting education. It is a mother’s story told from the heart that many will identify with, and indeed learn many pearls of wisdom from.

    I found the book hard to put down; it’s as if you’re sitting in Elaine’s kitchen over a cup of tea – hearing just how hard it was to raise her special boy with his complex needs, and learning of his transformation into the remarkable young man he has turned out to be. Melissa Hood’s commentary also provides bonus points of knowledge and practicality that any time-poor parent would crave.

    I will be recommending My Child’s Different to my clients, whether they have a ‘different’ child or not. This book is simply a gem in the mountain of parenting advice out there.

  7. Emily Perl Kingsley, former director, National Down Syndrome Congress and former writer, Sesame Street27th June 2018

    I love this book! Beautifully written with marvellous clarity and candour, Elaine Halligan’s narrative shares the ups and downs, the daily challenges, the small sequential steps forward and the heartbreaks and triumphs of parenting Sam.

    Sam’s story is one of remarkable ultimate success, but the book is not a sugarcoated ‘Pollyanna’ account – rather it is one filled with exquisite details of the two-steps-forward-one-step-back experience of raising a child with a significant disability. Further gifts for the reader include insights from Sam’s therapist, and even commentary from Sam himself.

    Filled with humour, warmth and consummate honesty, My Child’s Different is a wonderful testament to energy, to focus, to perseverance and to love.

  8. Carl Honoré, author of In Praise of Slow and Under Pressure27th June 2018

    My Child’s Different is a wonderful guide to navigating the choppy waters of parenthood. With wit, warmth and wisdom, Elaine Halligan shows us how to help our children overcome the toughest obstacles to find their own place in the world.

  9. Bonnie Harris, Director, Connective Parenting – – and author of When Your Kids Push Your Buttons27th June 2018

    Elaine’s journey with her out-of-sync son shows that the proof is in the pudding. Despite her fears and worries, her belief and trust in Sam paved the way for him to not only find himself but to succeed brilliantly.

    My Child’s Different can provide us all with renewed faith in our own children, regardless of the difficulties we experience with them along the way, and offers plenty of professional advice that will be of benefit to any parent.

  10. Barry Huggett, OBE, Principal, More House Foundation27th June 2018

    An engaging and page-turning read, My Child’s Different will appeal to a wide readership and should be a required text for anyone working with children with SEN or in their local authority’s department of education. And for those readers who are parents of children with SEN, the light at the end of the tunnel shines through in this book – offering hope, encouragement and plenty of sympathetic, wise and useful advice from a parent (and parenting expert) who, having experienced the dark days of despair and worry herself, knows what it feels like to be pushed around by officialdom just because their child does not ‘fit in’, yet still, rightly, strives for the very best for that child.

    The whole Halligan family should be thanked for their honesty and openness in writing My Child’s Different, and I think this book will do a great deal of good.

  11. Sir Anthony Seldon, Vice-Chancellor, University of Buckingham27th June 2018

    Most parents worry about how to bring up their children, especially if they worry that their child is in any way different. This book offers both comfort and insight to those in this position. It will really help parents, teachers and others relate to and better support those children who are different. A definite book to read!