Passionate parent pens book, launches initiative to get his title into libraries worldwide

Special Needs Parent Handbook
Through The Special Needs Ambassador Program, volunteers deliver copies of The Special Needs Parent Handbook to libraries around the world.

Several years ago, in a Yahoo discussion group, Jonathan Singer started answering parents’ questions. They were the same questions he and his wife Michey had likely asked themselves when their daughter Rebecca was born with a rare genetic disorder that causes autistic tendencies.

“I started saving my answers and decided that one day I would write a book and share some of the things that I learned over the years,” says Singer.

He posted a few chapters on the website Drive4Rebecca.org (the foundation his family created to raise awareness and funding for autism), and tens of thousands of people downloaded the materials.

In 2008, during a dispute with the local school district, Singer really kicked his writing into gear.

“It was the experience of challenging the school district that inspired me to finish the book and start the Advocacy 4 All initiative,” Singer says. “I wanted to share what I had learned to help other families.”

Released in late 2010, The Special Needs Parent Handbook addresses a range of topics that include finding caregivers, financial planning, advocating for a child and more.

All proceeds from the book go to Advocacy 4 All in conjunction with the Special Needs Ambassador Program, which invites volunteers to provide copies of the book to libraries in their communities.

Relying on the help of volunteers and the support of donations, Singer’s ultimate goal is to have at least one free copy of the book in every library around the world.

“A terrific review in Library Journal has resulted in many libraries purchasing the book, and we just found out that Overdrive, the company that enables libraries to loan electronic editions of books, is going to digitize our special edition to make it available in thousands of libraries worldwide,” he says.

Jonathan Singer and Rebecca
Jonathan Singer with his daughter Rebecca, who was the initial inspiration for publishing his book.

The family’s more immediate goal is to make the book available in 11 different countries and 11 different languages by the end of 2011. Already, the book has been translated into Spanish, and translations into Chinese and French are on the horizon.

For writers who want to publish a book to support their cause or charity, Singer advises: “Find a strong charity partner that will help you to promote your book, and inventory all of your most important relationships to help find ways to creatively distribute your book.”

“And have an open mind,” he adds. “You never know where you will find the next great idea to help promote your book.”

How You Can Get Involved

The Drive4Rebecca™
Founded by the Singer family in 2001, this foundation has been working to increase awareness of autism and raise funds to help advance research and help families be stronger advocates for their children with special needs.

Advocacy 4 All™
All of the proceeds from sales of The Special Needs Parent Handbook help to fund Advocacy 4 All, which provides assistance to families of children with special needs.

The Special Needs Ambassador Program™
Volunteers deliver copies of The Special Needs Parent Handbook to their local libraries so that families unable to afford a copy can still have access to the book.