Children with Autism: A Parents' Guideby Michael D. Powers, Temple Grandin
Recommended as the first book on autism that parents and family should read,
When parents learn that their child has autism, they often feel helpless and bewildered. Their child appears to live in an isolated, almost impenetrable world which may seem impossible to bridge. To understand autism and overcome their fears, parents need both information and hope.
Recommended as the first book on autism that parents and family should read, Children With Autism covers areas that are of special concern to parents. By providing up-to-date information about autism, this comprehensive book will ease the fears and concerns of many parents struggling to understand and cope with their child's disorder.
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Providing Structure and Consistency
Establishing a household routine is the first step in providing structure for your child with autism. Regardless of how much juggling of family schedules and commitments it takes, you must try to develop a routine that everyone in the family feels comfortable with, and can follow consistently. If you feel disorgnized and flustered, it is likely that your child with autism is feeling the same. Unfortunately, the way your child responds to this confusion may involve a variety of disturbing behaviors such as self-injury and toileting accidents. Therefore, you need to come up with an overall game plan for how each family day will proceed, and then incorporate each day's requirements into it. For example, have relatively set times for when your child bathes, plays, and eats.
If there is one word to stress regarding child care for children with autism, it is consistency. Many children with autism have great difficulty learning from the environment They do not learn well well from experience. One way to help them is to make the environment as consistent as possible. This rule applies to almost every interaction you have with your child, ranging from the words you choose when praising his good behavior to how you work to eliminate a behavior problem.
One reason that children with autism need consistency is that they have trouble using the same skills with different people, places, or situations. This inability to use the same skills in different areas is called "poor generalization." For example, although your child may demonstrate wonderful table manners at home, he may be a terror in restaurants. Another child might never have a tantrum when alone with his mother, but may have an average of three tantrums per hour when he is with his father.
Rather than blame anyone or resolve never to go out to eat, realize that poor generalization is a characteristic of autism which can be minimized if everyone responds to your child in the same way. For example, make sure that every family member uses the same phrases when teaching your child, as well as similar verbal and tangible rewards. If everyone is consistent, then your child's behavior will be more reliable regardless of location or the presence of others in the environment. Once a new skill is established, you can gradually vary the way you present requests or materials. This will help your child become more flexible.
One cause of the problems with generalization children with autism have is called "selective attention" or "stimulus overselectivity." This means that your child may over-focus on one aspect of a situation and not be able to respond unless that particular characteristic is present. Children with autism have difficulty recognizing which characteristics to focus upon. For example, your child might focus on the color of a car in a picture-but not the car itself-and be unable to identify the picture of a car if it is presented in a different color. Or he may overselect on the fact that his mother has blonde hair during a teaching session, and not be able to demonstrate a skill he has mastered with her when working with someone who has brown hair. This leads to many of the generalization problems children with autism have, and can be quite frustrating and confusing for parents. The best strategy to combat this tendency is to make sure that the most important aspects of the teaching situation are constant. Change only some of the more minor characteristics. For example, in teaching your child body part indentification, everyone who works with him should use the term "Touch your head"consistently; however, the person teaching the skill as well as the location should vary. That way, your child is better able to recognize that the words "Touch your head" are the important part of the teaching session.
You can introduce the concept of consistency to other people involved with your child by having them read this chapter. Then sit down together and decide how you want to respond to your child. You can set up hypothetical situations and practice on each other. You can discuss past situations and how they could have been handled better. Working together, you should be able to come up with an outline of how you want to act-both individually and as a group.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I feel when you get the diagnoses autism they should put this book in your hands first. I found more understanding in this one book then I did the books they sent me home with.
I bought my first edition 12 years ago. This book became my bible. We used this book step by step and then handed out copies to family members. That was with our first autistic child. Now with number 5 diagnosed, we reordered another. Thanks to the author for his insight and guidance.
When your child begins missing milestones, its a scary thing. This book guides you through the steps to becoming a true advocate for your child. Because the book is written in a simple yet precise manner, it doesn't patronize it's reader. I also recommend it for families and loved ones of an autistic child. It explains what autism is, and more importantly what it is not. Throughout it provides a tone of support and hope.
If you suspect your child is autistic, or your child has just been diagnosed, you need to start educating yourself about what to do next. This was one of the first books I read after my son was diagnosed, and I'd recommend it to others who wonder, 'Where do I go? What do I do?' I've read many books, and even though it's been a while since I read this one, I haven't forgotten it's messages.