Autism and the Extended Family: Guide for People Who Love Someone with Autism

Autism and the Extended Family: Guide for People Who Love Someone with Autism

Are you raising a child with autism? Please don’t try to be a hero and parent your autistic child alone. Who can help Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) parents manage? How can extended family members lend a hand? We have the perfect book to recommend Autism and the Extended Family: Guide for People Who Love Someone with Autism by Raun Melmed, M.D., Maria Wheeler, M.Ed.

First, each family with an autistic child needs professional guidance. Secondly, each family also needs an extended family to support them. Autism and the Extended Family offers practical solutions on how to help. There are many parenting autism books but there are very few books that focus entirely on the extended family. Yet, they are all affected by this disorder, too!

Follow Dr Raun Melmed, Developmental Pediatrician, and Maria Wheeler, M.Ed., as they examine the complex relationships that develop, and are changed by an autism diagnosis in the family.

What is an extended family?

The authors consider “extended family” to include anyone who is connected to the child or adult impacted by autism, either as a relative, partner, or close friend. An extended family nowadays does not necessarily look like the traditional family of years gone by; however, it might mean you even have MORE members that can help your family. Yours might be a blended family with step-parents, half-siblings, step-siblings, etc. There are grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews, and nieces. Then there are all the in-laws.

If your family is scattered across the world, close friends may be the ones you can lean on for help. If your autistic child has siblings, the parents of your children’s friends can play a huge role. They can take your child to sporting events or school activities so your autistic child, who is not comfortable in those surroundings, does not have to go. On other occasions, so that your other children have quality time with you, his parents, extended family members can care for the autistic child giving the chance to the parents to attend functions or vacation time with the other children.

Positive outcomes for children with autism and their families can be achieved if extended family members learn and understand how to act as extra cheerleaders and a built-in support group. They must learn about autism so they can understand the impact autism has on your immediate family and why you may display certain behaviors regarding social functions, family gatherings, etc.

What is the world of autism like?

An excerpt from the book explains what autism families deal with:
“The effects of autism are relentless; they occur day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year. The strain is often overwhelming and affects physical, emotional, and financial well-being.  Understanding these far-reaching influences can help you support your loved ones whose lives have been touched by autism.”

Features of Autism and the Extended Family:

  • A conversational writing style easy to understand for all extended family members
  • Uplifting information inspiring hope to motivate members to lend a helping hand
  • CAUTION boxes with important points to remember
  • CASE EXAMPLE boxes with real life stories to make a point
  • Bullet lists that summarize content to make it easier to remember or read again
  • Table of Content with 11 Chapters – there is no index but the information for each group of extended family members has their own chapter title: Chapter 4:Grandparents, Chapter 7: Uncles and Aunts, Chapter 8: Cousins, etc.
  • 9 Activity pages with titles like, “Create an Autism Kit”, Tips for Toileting and Eating,  Everyone Should Practice Stress Management

Excerpt from Autism and the Extended Family

Activity F – Behavior management for extended family members Page 124 (half of this page) 

  • Anticipate potential problems and prevent them before they occur.
  • Be sure the child has adequate rest before situations in which he or she needs to use good self-control.
  • Be sure the child has adequate food intake (including protein) before situations in which he or she needs to use good self-control.
  • Attract the child’s attention before giving directions!
  • Teach and practice what to do and/or say to prevent negative behaviors.
  • Present only as much as the child can tolerate.
  • Help the child practice correct behavior.
  • Avoid waiting for the child to make errors and then correct them. Rather prompt and assist the child to help him or her succeed.
  • Practice the necessary skills when everyone is comfortable.
  • Catch your loved one being good and praise him or her.
  • Remember, if you do no not …

About the Authors:

Raun Melmed M.D., ( photo) and Maria Wheeler M.Ed. Autism and the Extended Family: A Guide for People Who Love Someone with AutismDr. Raun Melmed, medical director of the Melmed Center and a developmental and behavioral pediatrician, founded Developmental Pediatric Associates, now known as the Melmed Center in 1989. He is a co-founder and the medical director of the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center.

A native of South Africa, he completed his postgraduate studies in Israel, New York City and Boston. He was a fellow with Dr. Mel Levine at the Children’s Hospital in Boston where he was an Instructor at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Melmed is an Adjunct Senior Researcher at the Translational Genomics Institute in Phoenix. He is a member of the Society for Behavioral Pediatrics and the Academy of Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine, the Ambulatory Pediatric Association and he is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. He is a board certified pediatrician and is also certified as a Diplomat in Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics.

He lives in Scottsdale, AZ. Dr. Melmed has been instrumental in setting up nationally recognized physician training programs for the early identification of infants and toddlers with developmental and behavioral concerns and has authored a program geared toward the early screening of autism spectrum disorders. Dr. Melmed is the co-author of Succeeding with Difficult Children. He has published numerous articles and chapters and has presented around the world on topics related to development and learning. Dr. Melmed is a member of the board of directors of community agencies including the New Directions Institute, the Council for Jews with Special Needs. Dr. Melmed is principal investigator in numerous studies including the use of novel therapeutic agents in the treatment of ADHD and autism. He is a co-principal investigator in studies involving family linkage, proteomics and gene expression in autism. He lives in Scottsdale, AZ.

Maria Wheeler, M.Ed., has spent more than 20 years in the fields of psychology and special education, with an emphasis onRaun Melmed M.D., and Maria Wheeler M.Ed. (photo) authors of Autism and the Extended Family: A Guide for People Who Love Someone with Autism neurobehavioral disorders, applied behavior analysis, and specific learning disabilities. She is the owner of Behavior & Learning Solutions, Inc.

She authored the definitive guide Toilet Training for Individuals with Autism or Other Developmental Issues, as well as the staple behavior guide A Treasure Chest of Behavioral Strategies for Individuals with Autism. She lives in Amarillo, TX.

Buy: Autism and the Extended Family: A Guide for People Who Love Someone with Autism  Amazon.com Amazon.ca  Future Horizons 

This post was written by Lorna
Lorna d’Entremont: Co-owner of SentioLife Solutions, Ltd. the company behind KidCompanions Chewelry (2007) and SentioCHEWS (2013), mother of three, grandma of 5 and wife. She is a retired teacher and special needs advocate. Throughout she has taught all levels from grade 2 to grade 9. Lorna loved teaching and enjoyed seeing the students progress in the school system. During her 30 year career she took a few years off to raise her three children.
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