Edited by Shannon Des Roches Rosa, Jennifer Byde Myers, Liz Ditz, Emily Willingham and Carol Greenburg. Fifty-five essays written by contributors from the autism community in all walks of life. Bravo to the editors and contributors for their five-star book! Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism is now the autism bible parents, grandparents, friends, caregivers, educators, and therapists should read and keep readily at hand to read again. The Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) community, especially parents of newly diagnosed children, needs this book. It is filled with positive, evidence-based autism information and advice It is the guiding light to the end of the tunnel. It is the lighthouse beacon warning you of missteps along the way. It is the candle light comforting you and reassuring you that it might not be easy but parenting an autistic child can also be rewarding. Parents will discover that by reaching for the support available online and in their communities, their family will be OK.
“Optimism is essential to achievement and it is also the foundation of courage and true progress,” said Lloyd Alexander. Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism was surely written by folks who see their “glass half full” and many overwhelmed parents need to know there is hope. Each essay is a testament to the love and dedication they have for every child’s life entrusted to them. Parents, professionals, and autistics themselves used their experience, their knowledge, and their wit to write practical, tried and true strategies and stories that will touch your heart.
Features of the Book:
You are presented with a smorgasbord of topics all addressing issues parents with an autistic child will savor. There are nine broad themes/chapters and the essays are grouped together accordingly. To quickly retrieve an essay on a particular topic, Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism has a comprehensive index… something so many books lack.
Who are the people behind this marvelous book? Check the Editor and Contributor Bios provided on the last pages.
One 8 page chapter is set aside for resources. I applaud the organization that went into listing this gold mine of recommended books, movies, and online resources. Each section has subheadings in alphabetical order and each list is in alphabetical order. Nothing is missing! You will find the contributors’ links to their best Stories and Interviews, Supplies, Materials, and Gear, Therapeutic Activities, Resources, and Toolkits, YouTube Channels, and over fifty Blogs.
Yes, make it a point to read this book. Buy it to have a copy of your own… it will be your support group in print!
Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism is a book and also a website with regularly updated autism essays, resources, and other information from autistics, parents, and professionals. Motivated to better the world for their children and better prepare their children for the world, these hard working individuals are making your life better and easier too. You will find them on Facebook and Twitter. Follow them! On their page I read, “Autism misinformation clouds and is perpetuated by the Internet. We want to make accurate information about autism causation and therapies visible, accessible, and centralized… Our families need their energies for evidence-based optimism!”
I enjoyed each essay. Steve Silberman, investigative reporter for Wired and other national magazines, declared Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism his Book of the Year. Make it yours also! Want a preview? Here are excerpts from each essay in the first three chapters. See part 2 for excerpts from the other chapters.
Chapter 1 After the Autism Diagnosis: First Steps
Bring Everyone Out ~ Kyra Anderson While we’re working to take the stigma out of an autism diagnosis, let’s also take the stigma out of talking about what’s hard in dealing with autism. And here is what everyone needs: To be safe. To belong. To be valued. To make a contribution.
What Is Neurodiversity? ~ Mike Stanton If we accept people and work with their strengths, we can help them to find ways of dealing with their problems that work for them. A whole set of problems comes with being “high-functioning.” People expect you to be normal or at least to act normal. So you expend a lot of mental energy pretending to be “normal,” which leaves you wide open to stress-related problems like depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and social anxiety disorder.
What Now? Ten Tips for Families with a New Autism Diagnosis ~ Squillo It’s so easy for me to get caught up in the checklist—the next appointment, the next goal, the next letter to be written, the next battle to be fought—I sometimes forget that both my kids need me to be Just Mom as well as Warrior/CEO Mom. The next task, the next goal, will always be there, but his childhood will not, and I don’t want to miss it.
How Do People React When They Learn Your Child Has Special Needs? ~ Emily Willingham The fact is, they just don’t get it. They never will. They probably don’t lie awake at night, wondering, hoping, considering whether or not there will be a person out there, the Just Right Person, who some day will appreciate their child’s quirks and oddities and inability to remember to zip his pants or put his shirt on with the tag inside right along with his incredible sense of humor and beautiful mind.
Getting to Know Your New Neighborhood: Reaching Out and Building a Network ~ Susan Walton There is help out there for you, for your child, and for your family, and you should take advantage of it. The pierce of my own wounds eased when I focused on “what next?” instead of “where did I go wrong?” or “why us?” Moving forward should become the most important item on your list, and for a time you may have to be a little ruthless in how you choose your company.
Identifying and Avoiding Autism Cults ~ Shannon Des Roches Rosa The best investment you can make in your autistic child’s future is a commitment to intense scrutiny of treatment options. Does an approach make sense, or do you just really, really want to believe it will help? Are there real risks and only possible benefits?
Chapter 2 Practical Advice for Autism Parents
Welcome to the Club ~ Jess at Diary of a Mom You will cherish the teachers and therapists and caregivers who see past your child’s challenges and who truly understand her strengths. They will feel like family. You will be okay.
Feeding Issues and Picky Eaters ~ Judy McCrary Koeppen M.S., CCC-SLP . Children with autism are often uncomfortable with a change in routine. This preference for sameness can show up at mealtime as well. Children are taking risks and showing progress when they do any of the following with new foods: smell, touch, poke with a fork, touch to lips, touch to chin, or lick. Even tolerating a new food in the same room or on the table is success.
Sensory Seekers and Sensory Avoiders ~ Hartley Steiner There are two types of people with sensory issues: Avoiders, who seek to escape sensory input, and Seekers, who cannot get enough noise, touch, texture, and other sensory inputs. Many kids do a combination of both, depending on their “arousal” level; it is a constant balancing act to get the input just right. The sensory challenges for each child are different; hence, the solution for each child is different.
When Medication Is the Right Choice ~ Jennifer Byde Myers The right doctor can make all the difference with our kids, just like the right teacher can make a class successful. Our life—his life—has been made so much better because of medications. He can function, we can do things as a family, travel on planes, visit other families’ homes. I feel relief that my child is happier, more present, and ultimately more included since he began taking medications a few years ago. ( For this family, “Episodes” meant severe agitation, self-injurious behavior, and complete inability to respond to any request; he was uncomfortable in his own skin.)
Outings, Travel, and Autism ~ Shannon Des Roches Rosa I do not care if other people think he behaves strangely or makes funny noises; as long as he is not harming or interrupting anyone, we carry on with heads raised, meeting strangers’ stares with confident and unapologetic smiles that I will admit to having practiced in the bathroom mirror.
Preventing Meltdowns: Outsmarting the Explosive Behavior of Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders ~ Judy Endow, MSW With proactive supports, explosive behavior can be outsmarted so individuals with ASD can move on to living purposeful and self-fulfilling lives. These three major supports include proactive use of a sensory diet to maintain optimal sensory regulation, visual supports, and managing emotions that are too big (Endow, 2010).
Does Your Child with Autism Have a Daily Record? ~ Shannon Des Roches Rosa Leo’s online daily record has been an invaluable tool for information sharing amongst Leo’s family, teachers, and the rest of his team, and also for providing fast, hard evidence of how well he learns and how much progress he’s made.
When You’re Gone: Practical Planning for Your Child’s Future ~ Shannon Des Roches Rosa The time to think about planning for our children’s future is now—the earlier we start, the more comprehensive our planning will be.
Autism and Toilet Training: Never Give Up Hope ~ Shannon Des Roches Rosa They need rigorous support and a lot of patience! We set realistic goals for Leo and toileting: gradual successes while anticipating occasional regressions.
Adolescence ~ Laura Shumaker When you are the parent of a child with autism, it’s best to be a few steps ahead to prepare your sensory-sensitive child for what lies ahead.
Chapter 3 Caregiving and Autism
On Autism and Self-Compassion ~ Kristin Neff, Ph.D. The amount of sorrow and frustration and grief is intense, but it matures you. And then you have the joy and you have the good things, and that’s more intense. We really made sure we had compassion for how difficult it was to be Rowan’s parents. We gave each other breaks, nights off.
A Single Mom’s View of Autism Divorce Rates ~ Estée Klar It’s ironic that, even though so many women of typical children get caught up in their motherhood roles, that mothers of autistic children get blamed for failed marriages because we get so involved in our “autistic” children’s lives. Don’t let anyone tell you how to be a family or that your autistic child must be normal to be valued.
On the Verge of a Meltdown ~ Prather Harrell Wow! I shouldn’t be beating myself up, I should be patting myself on the back, in awe of all of the hurdles we’ve jumped and mountains we’ve climbed. When my beautiful young princes become adults in society, they will be neither exempt nor excused from following the rules of society just because they (two of them) have special needs. And since I am raising African-American men, this is of huge concern to me—the rules of society are especially strict for these young men.
When a Single Mother of a Special Needs Child Is Suddenly Ill ~ Asperger Ninja Parents of children with special needs have to go above and beyond what is necessary to ensure our good health and well-being. Since my ambulance trip, I have made sure to have more than one person I can call if there is an emergency. I have also taken better care of myself,…
All Showers Lead to Australia ~ Hartley Steiner I made a commitment to treat myself better. To treat myself, my health, my body, my mind, all of my needs, as if they were as important as my son’s needs. I know now that taking time for myself and for my marriage will make me a better person, wife, and mother.