Help for Billy – Book Review

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From the Cover of Help for Billy by Heather Forbes:

Help for Billy is a pragmatic manual to help guide families and educators who are struggling with traumatized children. Based on the concept of the neuroscience of emotions and behavior, Heather Forbes provides detailed, comprehensive, and logical strategies for teachers and parents. This easy to read book, with tables, outlines and lists, clears the way for a better understanding of the true nature regarding traumatic experiences affecting the brain and learning. It is a must read for anyone working with a child in the classroom.”

Grade:

5 hoots out of 5

Transfiguring Adoption awarded this book 5 Hoots out of 5 based on how useful it will be for a foster/adoptive family. [Learn more about our Hoot grading system here]

What Our Family Thought:

The target audience is actually educators, but it is an excellent read for parents of children who have experienced trauma who need to advocate for them at school. Help for Billy is jam-packed full of practical suggestions from transitioning to teachers, from homework to IEPs and 504 plan suggestions. The book begins with a tale two children: a “good” child—one who has been nurtured and well-cared for before entering the school system—referred to as Andy versus a “bad” child—who experienced early trauma—referred to as “Billy,” hence, the title: Help for Billy. (Parents of children who have experienced trauma can change out “Billy” for their own child’s name.)

Help for Billy discusses the anatomy of the brain in easy to understand language and explains how trauma impacts the learning process, causes deficits, decreases a child’s “window of stress tolerance,” and results in what is often labeled as behavioral issues that are really a regulatory issue. This book leads teachers and parents to ask the right questions and formulate interventions that will really help the child who has experienced trauma to reach their potential in the classroom. We highly recommend this book to foster and adoptive parents and to all individuals in the field of education.

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It’s Your Turn:

  1. Who are the “Billies” in your life?
  2. What steps will you take to create an environment that externally regulates children?
  3. How can you help increase your Billy’s window of stress tolerance?
  4. Has this book changed your thinking or belief systems? If so, how?
  5. Are there “wrong” questions that you have been asking?
  6. What questions do you need to start asking yourself?
  7. What can you do to create an environment where Billy feels safe?
  8. What sensory, regulatory activities can you incorporate?
  9. What can you do to ease transitions for Billy?
  10. What changes can you make to homework?
  11. How can you address social and emotional deficits?
  12. How can you change IEPs or 504 plans to help Billy?

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