Dr. Thompson's Straight Talk on Autism / Edition 1

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Everyone who cares for or works with a child with autism will wear out their copy of this book—a "helpline" they can turn to again and again for concrete, practical interventions that really work. Trusted authority Travis Thompson, author of the bestselling Making Sense of Autism, takes readers beyond understanding the disorder and reveals specific ways to help children overcome everyday challenges and develop critical skills they'll use their whole lives. Based on the latest research and the author's extensive clinical experience, these ready-to-use tips and strategies will help children with autism spectrum disorders meet their toughest challenges head-on:

  • communicating more effectively
  • making improvements in behavior
  • increasing their tolerance for change
  • developing social skills
  • establishing secure, trusting relationships
  • recognizing and reacting to emotions
  • overcoming stimulus intolerance
  • engaging in recreation and leisure activities
  • enjoying greater participation in their community and family lives

Engaging illustrations throughout the book show children with autism participating in a wide variety of activities, and the sample pictorial schedules will help readers guide children successfully through everyday routines. A straightforward, easy-to-read sourcebook for anyone new to helping children with autism, this guide offers simple, specific strategies that improve quality of life—for children and for whole families.

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Editorial Reviews

Ann Turnbull

"With this book, Travis Thompson wins the &#34triple crown" for knowledge translation - best available research, state-of-art clinical practice, and family wisdom (as the grandfather of a youngster with autism). His triple crown expertise permeating this book is sure to make quality of life enhancements for children with autism spectrum disorders and their families."
psychologist; author, Special Children, Challenged Parents; co-editor, Voices from the Spectrum - Robert Naseef
"With clarity and brilliance Dr. Thompson synthesizes what we know, what we don't, and how to deal effectively with the essential challenges in the home and school that are presented by children growing up with autism."
Director, Child Study Center, and Professor, Yale University School of Medicine - Fred Volkmar
"[T]reasure trove of information on autism for parents and teachers alike . . . wonderful."
Director, FPG Child Development Institute, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill - Samuel L. Odom
"If there was one book I could give individuals, especially parents, who had questions about autism, this would be it."
Kammy Norman Kramer
"Dr. Travis Thompson has created something amazing. Though my son was diagnosed with PDD-NOS 4 years ago, I felt like for the first time I was able to 'connect' with him through the pages of this book in a way I have never been able to do."
Chair, Special Education Department, Vanderbilt University - Craig H. Kennedy
"This book provides easily accessible information about autism that is factually accurate and evidence based. A must have for anyone who knows a person with autism."
parents of a son with autism - Douglas And Etta Overland
"Points a family in the right direction and presents practical suggestions on what to do. We wish we'd had this book back nearly forty years ago."
Founder and CEO, Autism Today; co-author, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Children with Special Needs - Karen Simmons
"A refreshing resource! Dr. Thompson cuts to the chase, highlighting the most relevant facts, stats and straight talk for spectrum issues to date."
author of Autism; An Inside Out Approach and The Jumbled Jigsaw; autism consultant and public speaker - Donna Williams
"An easy-to-follow road map for parents to actively and affordably become involved in bringing up emotionally healthy children with ASD . . . also provides teachers with the frameworks with which to better build inclusive teaching practices."
Founder and President of MAAP Services for the Autism Spectrum; editor, The MAAP; parent of a woman with autism - Susan Moreno
"What sets [Thompson] apart from other brilliant and well-informed authors . . . is his positive attitude, his compassion, and his incredible ability to make complex information seem simple and clear to the average reader."
Parents' Press
"Bring[s] the reader inside the mind of a child [with autism], showing us the how and why of difficult, frustrating behaviors."
Metro Spirit
"Dispelling false tales, providing clinical expertise for many activities, and delivering inspirational as well as practical advice . . . [this is] a guidebook worthy of a celebration."
About.com: Parenting Special Needs
"A clear winner ... Very competent and confident."
"Offers ready-to-use tips and practical strategies to help parents and their children meet the challenges presented by autism."
NADD Bulletin
"Well crafted….Recommended for care providers, as well as professionals involved with the care of persons with ASDs."
ADVANCE for Physical Therapists & PT Assistants
"[Dr. Thompson] has a direct understanding of the challenges presented to families, which is refreshing to parents who often struggle to find a truly understanding ear."
Journal of Autism & Developmental Disorders
"Parents of children on the spectrum will find a treasure-trove of helpful ideas...[and] professionals will find this an invaluable reference guide when working with families."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781557669452
  • Publisher: Brookes, Paul H. Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 3/1/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 282
  • Sales rank: 1,023,560
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Paula F. Goldberg, is executive director of the PACER Center in Minneapolis, MN; http://www.pacer.org.

Travis Thompson, Ph.D., L.P., Graduate Faculty Member, Special Education Program, Department of Educational Psychology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, and Consulting Psychologist, Minnesota Early Autism Project, 7242 Forestview Lane North, Maple Grove, Minnesota 55369

Dr. Thompson is affiliated with the Autism Certificate Program in the Special Education Program of the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Minnesota, and he is Adjunct Professor in the Department of Applied Behavioral Science at the University of Kansas, Lawrence. He is a collaborator on a multisite project on challenging behavior in developmental disabilities including the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Maryland; the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center, University of Massachusetts, Amherst; and the University of Kansas, Parsons. He is a licensed psychologist.

Dr. Thompson completed his doctoral training in psychology at the University of Minnesota and completed postdoctoral work at the University of Maryland. He spent a year at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom and a year as a visiting scientist at the National Institute on Drug Abuse in Rockville, Maryland. Dr. Thompson was Director of the John F. Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development at Vanderbilt University and Director of the Institute for Child Development at the University of Kansas Medical Center—a clinical, training, and research institute. Dr. Thompson has served on several National Institutes of Health research review committees, including chairing reviews of the applicants for Collaborative Programs of Excellence in Autism awards in 2000, 2003, and 2007. He has been a member of American Psychological Association (APA) task forces concerned with the practice of psychology and psychopharmacology. He is a past president of the Behavioral Pharmacology Society, the Division of Psychopharmacology and Substance Abuse, and the Division of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities of the APA.

Dr. Thompson has received numerous awards, including the Distinguished Research Award, The Arc of the United States; the Academy on Mental Retardation Lifetime Research Award; the APA's Don Hake Award; the Edgar A. Doll Award, for contributions to facilitate the transfer of research into practice; and the Ernest R. Hilgard Award and the Impact of Science on Application Award of the Society for Advancement of Behavior Analysis. He has served as cochair of the Association for Behavior Analysis International's Annual Autism Conference (2010 and 2011). He has published more than 230 journal articles and chapters and 30 books dealing with autism, developmental disabilities, psychopharmacology, and related topics. His most recent books, Making Sense of Autism (2007) and Dr. Thompson's Straight Talk on Autism (2008), are also published by Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co. Dr. Thompson has spoken in 46 states and 15 countries about his research and clinical services and on topics related to autism and other developmental disabilities and psychopharmacology.

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Read an Excerpt

Excerpted from Chapter 2 of Dr. Thompson's Straight Talk on Autism, by Travis Thompson, Ph.D.

Copyright © 2008 by Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Moment–to–moment events of daily life seem utterly out of control to many children with ASDs. Their life appears to them to be chaotic and unpredictable. In his astute description of autism, Leo Kanner wrote, "The child's behavior is governed by an anxiously obsessive desire for sameness that nobody but the child himself may disrupt on rare occasions. Changes in routine, of furniture arrangement, of a pattern, or the order in which everyday acts are carried out, can drive him to despair." (1943, p. 245) Kanner continued, "Objects that do not change their appearance and position, that retain their sameness…are readily accepted by the autistic child. He has a good relation to objects…When with them, he has an undisputed sense of power and control. "(1943, p. 246)


With these insightful words, the man who provided the first detailed clinical account of autism captured one of the most important features of ASDs: need for control. Parents often see a child who is obstinate and displays tantrums, teachers see a child who is being oppositional and refuses to follow directions, and friends and relatives see a spoiled child who must have his or her own way. When I see a child with an ASD displaying such frustrating, challenging behavior, I try to remind myself of Kanner's words: "Changes…can drive him to despair" (Kanner, 1943, p. 245). It is difficult for anyone to be truly effective at parenting, teaching, or providing therapy services to a child with autism without fully grasping the depth of distress a child with an ASD experiences when he or she feels that he or she has no control over a world that seems in unpredictable disarray.

Children's Early Learning About Gaining Control

Young children, including those with ASDs, experiment from a very early age with strategies for controlling things and people around them. Carmen, who has an ASD, is seated in her highchair. She holds her spoon out and releases it. It goes downward and makes a noise as it hits the floor. That is really quite interesting. She does it again, and the spoon always falls downward and makes a clanging noise. She soon discovers that she can also make her parents do things the same way. When she drops her spoon on the floor and it makes a noise, her mother, Maria, bends down and picks it up. She tries that a few times and it always works: Her mother or father always bends down and picks up the spoon and returns it to her. Next she discovers that if she drops her spoon so it falls under the dinner table she can make her father, Silvio, get down and crawl around on his hands and knees. That's even more interesting. When her father retrieves the spoon and hands it to the girl, he opens his mouth and sounds come out (e.g., "Now don't do that again!"), which the child doesn't understand, but it's very interesting, nonetheless. She rather likes the sounds when he opens his mouth, but she is confused by his facial expression, which seems to be different from usual.

Children discover that if they put a block in a particular place on the floor, crawl across the floor, and then return to the block, it is still in the same place. That is reassuring to a child with an ASD. A child with an ASD learns very quickly that things like blocks and stuffed bears are predictable. Once the child does something with them they stay put, but people are different. After the fourth or fifth time Carmen drops her spoon on the floor, instead of her father retrieving it, he stands up and takes her out

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Table of Contents

About the Author
Foreword Paula F. Goldberg

  1. A Road Less Traveled: Autism Spectrum Disorders

  2. Need for Control

  3. Time Is Your Enemy

  4. Once Upon a Time: Discovering the Mystery of Words

  5. Relationships and Feelings

  6. Letting the Genie Out of the Bottle: Promoting Socialization

  7. Nothing Is Easy: Overcoming Stimulus Intolerance

  8. Putting Out Fires: Coping with Behavioral Challenges

  9. Daily Freedoms and Responsibilities

  10. The Importance of Leisure

  11. The Art of Living Together: Community Participation

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