Written during the third year of The Rebecca School’s operation in Manhattan, RESPECTING AUTISM: The Rebecca School DIR Casebook for Parents and Professionals adroitly describes the results of Tina McCourt and Michael Koffler’s efforts to conceive and create a new school in New York City for children diagnosed on the autism spectrum. Because of the devotion of the entire staff as well as parents, all New York students can now receive a developmentally appropriate, thoughtful, and integrated education. According to co-author Dr. Gil Tippy, Clinical Director: “At Rebecca School we believe that everything we do originates with respect. Respect for the children we serve, respect for the staff with whom we work, and respect for the families of the children.”
Dr. Tippy and Floortime™ creator Dr. Stanley Greenspan collaborated on RESPECTING AUTISM. In 2005, Dr. Greenspan became a consultant to Rebecca School, and his work with students is featured throughout the book. The school institutionalizes Dr. Greenspan’s “Floortime™” methods of teaching and its educators work to extend students’ circles of communication using the Developmental, Individual Difference, Relationship-based (DIR®) model also pioneered by Dr. Greenspan.
Autism Spectrum Disorders are not issues of memory or of extinguishable behaviors, but rather difficulties with relating and communicating. Throughout RESPECTING AUTISM, everyday real life students and their families generously open up their homes and personal histories to Dr. Tippy who then conveys to readers these student’s triumphs and frustrations, joys and fears as each child in her or his own way strives to experience the freedom of the world of abstraction.
RESPECTING AUTISM introduces readers to sixteen students and their personal stories presented as case studies. In each of these very different studies, Dr. Tippy takes a thorough and thoughtful approach to introducing readers to these individuals; he first establishes their family’s story and educational background, then provides specifics regarding the students’ work as well as behavior at school. Each case study concludes with Dr. Greenspan’s diagnosis, reflections, and plan regarding how best to proceed to bring the student fully into the circle of communication.