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Understanding Autism For Dummies

Understanding Autism For Dummies

Understanding Autism For Dummies

Understanding Autism For Dummies


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Friendly, accessible guidance for parents of autistic children and people caring for autistic adults

Autism affects more than 1 million children and adults in the United States, and parents may be confused by the behavior of autistic children. This book provides help-and hope-by explaining the differences between various types of autism and delivering the lowdown on behavioral, educational, medical, other interventions. Featuring inspiring autism success stories as well as a list of organizations where people who support those with autism can go for additional help, it offers practical advice on how to educate children as well as insights on helping people with autism use their strengths to maximize their potential in life.

Stephen Shore, EdD (Brookline MA), serves on the board for several autism spectrum-related organizations and he has written Beyond the Wall: Personal Experiences with Autism and Asperger Syndrome (1-931282-00-5) and edited Ask and Tell: Self Advocacy and Disclosure For People on the Autism Spectrum (1-931282-58-7).
Linda G. Rastelli (Middletown, NJ) is a veteran journalist who specializes in health and business.
Temple Grandin, PhD (Fort Collins, CO) is the author of the bestselling Thinking in Pictures (0-679-77289-8) and Emergence: Labeled Autistic (0-446-67182-7).

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780764525476
Publisher: Wiley
Publication date: 09/19/2006
Series: For Dummies Books
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 266,737
Product dimensions: 7.20(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Stephen M. Shore, EdD, who was diagnosed on the autism spectrum, is a college professor and an international lecturer and consultant on autism.

Linda G. Rastelli, MA, is an award-winning writer with 20 years of experience writing about health, education, and business topics.

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Table of Contents

Foreword xvii

Introduction 1

About This Book 2

Conventions Used in This Book 2

What You’re Not to Read 3

Foolish Assumptions 3

How This Book Is Organized 4

Part I: Understanding Autism 4

Part II: Addressing Physical Needs 4

Part III: Enhancing Learning and Social Skills 5

Part IV: Living with Autism as an Adult 5

Part V: The Part of Tens 6

Icons Used in This Book 6

Where to Go from Here 7

Part I: Understanding Autism 9

Chapter 1: Autism: The Big Picture 11

What We Know — and Don’t Know — about Autism 12

Making the Diagnosis: Learning Your ASDs 13

Understanding the diagnostic criteria 14

Seeing the signs: Autism symptoms 15

Understanding the Far-Reaching Impact of Autism 17

How autism can affect the diagnosed individual 18

How autism can affect families, schools, and communities 18

How autism can affect caregivers 19

Navigating the Sea of Interventions 20

Using behavioral, developmental, and other educationally based interventions 21

Implementing occupational and speech-language therapies 23

Medicating symptoms that can accompany autism 23

Applying biomedical and natural interventions 24

If You Think You (Or People You Care for) Have Undiagnosed Autism 25

Chapter 2: From Classification to Treatment: Scanning the Autism Spectrum 27

Surveying the Colors of Autism 28

Severe (or “classic”) autism 29

PDD and PDD-NOS 30

Asperger Syndrome 31

Considering Conditions That Resemble Autism 32

Childhood Disintegrative Disorder 32

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder 33

Other possible diagnoses 33

Understanding Why Early Treatment Matters More than Classification 35

Attempting early identification and intervention 35

Getting good medical care 36

Enrolling in effective early programs 37

Chapter 3: Causes, Clusters, and Clues: Where Does Autism Come From? 39

Considering the Rise in Diagnoses 40

Exploring the Genetic Link 41

Familial patterns 41

Brain size and structure 42

The brain-gut connection 44

The testosterone link 45

Examining Biomedical Theories 45

What do allergies have to do with it? 46

Heavy-metal poisoning hypotheses 47

Autoimmune or virus-induced theories of causation 49

The Backlash Against the Cure 50

Chapter 4: Getting a Diagnosis 53

Tracking Your Child’s Medical History 54

Broaching the Possibility of Autism with a Doctor 55

Preparing for the consultation 56

Requesting a referral 57

Consulting a Specialist 58

Contacting a qualified specialist 59

Sharing information 62

Embarking on the assessment process 62

Diagnosing related conditions 65

Dealing with the Impact of the Diagnosis 67

Coming to terms emotionally 68

Taking action 68

Avoiding scams 69

Chapter 5: Asperger Syndrome and Autism 71

Discovering Where Asperger Syndrome Sits on the Autism Spectrum 72

Examining common characteristics of Asperger’s 72

Diagnosing Asperger Syndrome 73

Examining typical nondiagnostic personality traits of Asperger Syndrome 76

Helping People with Asperger Syndrome Socialize 78

Finding the hidden curriculum 79

Handling idioms and figures of speech 80

Dealing with the Emotions Triggered by Asperger Syndrome 82

Avoiding the rage cycle 83

Working through frustration 87

Using emotion thermometers to gauge emotional states 87

Recognizing Bullying and Its Emotional Repercussions 89

Signs of bullying 90

Taming the bullies 91

Transitioning to Adulthood 91

Part II: Addressing Physical Needs 93

Chapter 6: Injecting Yourself with Knowledge about Autism Medication 95

Considering Drug Therapy 95

Looking at how medication can realistically help 96

Educating yourself and pursuing drug therapy 96

Using medication wisely 97

Identifying Helpful Medications 99

Beginning the process with a qualified doctor 100

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) 101

Atypical antipsychotic drugs 102

Tricyclic drugs 104

Antiepileptics (also known as anticonvulsants) 105

Medications for challenging behaviors in severely affected people with autism 106

Maximizing Safety When Vaccinating Your Child 107

Considering your child’s medical history 107

Looking at an alternate vaccination schedule 108

Chapter 7: Improving Immunity and Boosting Biochemistry 109

Taking a Look at the Balancing Act of the Immune System 110

Exposing the Relationship between Autism and Immune Abnormalities 112

Analyzing immune measurements in the blood 113

Exploring gut problems 114

Studying brain tissue 115

Improving Immunity 116

Focusing on first-line fundamentals 117

Seeking out second-line strategies 118

Tackling third-line therapies 119

Biochemistry Begets Behavior: A New Way of Thinking 121

Shedding light on the broken pathways 121

Maximizing metabolism 122

Getting the Lead (and Mercury) Out 124

Why the autistic child? 124

Testing for toxicity 125

Chelating 125

Chapter 8: Optimizing Nutrition 129

Tempering Your Expectations 130

Considering Your Dietary Intervention Options 130

Cleaning up your child’s diet 131

Going wheat and dairy free 133

Supplementing your child’s diet 136

Implementing Your Plan 138

Keeping a food and symptom diary 138

Involving professionals 140

Easing the transition 141

Experimenting with specialized diets 142

Eating on the road 143

Part III: Enhancing Learning and Social Skills 145

Chapter 9: Choosing an Appropriate Behavioral, Developmental, or Educational Intervention 147

Understanding What to Look for in the Alphabet Soup of Approaches 148

Actions and behaviors that lead to success in all interventions 149

Keys to success in educational interventions 149

Exploring Popular Intervention Approaches 150

Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) 151

Daily Life Therapy (DLT) 155

Developmental Individual Difference Relation-Based Intervention (DIR) 157

Miller Method 160

Relationship Development Intervention (RDI) 164

Treatment and Education of Autistic and Communication Handicapped Children (TEACCH) 169

Social Communication Emotional Regulation Transactional Support Model (SCERTS) 173

Deciding Which Method Is Best for Your Child 176

Financing the At-Home Program of Your Choice 177

Exploring your at-home options 177

Obtaining government assistance 178

Chapter 10: Dealing with Learning and Sensory Differences 181

Autistic Learning: Transferring Skills and Providing Structure 182

Thinking conceptually and transferring concepts 182

Incorporating routine into daily life 184

Bridging the Communication Gap 186

Developing sign language as a communication bridge 186

Working toward functional communication 186

Using assistive communication technology 187

Enjoying music therapy 193

“Retraining” the Brain through Neurotherapy 194

Examining and implementing neurotherapy 195

Reviewing a neurotherapy study 196

Making Sense of Sensory Confusion 197

Observing sensory integration challenges 197

Using hippotherapy 200

Working with speech-language pathologists 200

Seeing through Irlen-branded lenses 201

Handling Your Child’s Sensory Issues 202

The supermarket test 202

The eyes have it 203

The auditory-processing blues 204

Socially unacceptable stimming 204

Dealing with the most severe behaviors 206

Chapter 11: Finding a Learning Environment That Fits Your Child’s Needs 207

Inclusion: To Be or Not to Be? 208

Recognizing an Effective Classroom 209

Maintaining routine and predictability 209

Learning through all the senses 211

Evaluating the room itself 212

Observing a Good Teacher 215

Characteristics to look for in an educator 215

Warning flags to avoid in an educator 216

Developing Effective Accommodations 217

Accommodations in action 218

Addressing the fairness of accommodations 219

Considering educational techniques for promoting inclusion 222

Weighing Your Options when the Public School System Falls Short 224

Exploring the world of home schooling 224

Considering other educational options 226

Understanding and Reducing Challenging Behaviors 226

Getting to the core of the behavior 227

Performing a Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) 227

Chapter 12: Legally Speaking: Making the Most of Your Child’s Education 235

Navigating the Legal and Education Systems 235

Understanding what the law allows 236

Keeping track of changes in the law 236

Staying Involved with Your Child’s Education 238

Working within the system 238

Supporting your child at home 239

Acting Early with an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) 240

Specifying Special: Entering the Public School System 241

Initiating an evaluation to establish eligibility 241

Implementing an Individualized Education Program (IEP) 243

Assessing Your Child’s Progress 250

Flexing Your Educational Rights When You Need To 251

Chapter 13: Fostering Healthy Relationships 253

Recognizing the Social Challenges an Autistic Child Faces 254

Understanding social norms 254

Conversing and cooperating 255

Supporting a child when verbal communication is minimal or nonexistent 256

All in the Family 258

Talking about autism with your kids 259

Considering the challenges siblings face 260

Including extended family 263

Encouraging Your Child to Form Friendships 264

Staging an emotional rescue 265

Creating social stories and calling on Power Cards 266

Making conversation 268

Sparking interactive play 269

Respecting differences 270

Part IV: Living with Autism as an Adult 271

Chapter 14: For Adults with Autism: Living Well after K-12 273

Discovering How to Live Interdependently 274

Managing your daily life 274

Deciding where to live 275

For caregivers: Preparing your dependent to succeed from day one 276

Out of the High-School Daze: Pursuing Higher Education 277

Evaluating your educational options 278

Getting the accommodations you need for higher education 282

Practicing self-advocacy and disclosure 283

Easing into higher education 284

For caregivers: Helping your dependent realize his/her higher-education dreams 285

Time to Nurture Your Bank Account: Finding (and Keeping) Employment 285

Matching your skills and desires with job opportunities 286

Working with a job coach 287

Applying for and obtaining a position 288

Maintaining your job 291

Gracefully exiting your position 291

Considering self-employment 292

For caregivers: Helping a dependent find employment 293

An Advocate Off the Ol’ Block: Getting Involved with Your Community 295

Becoming a part of your community 296

Looking within the autism community 297

For caregivers: Encouraging an adult with autism to get involved 299

Chapter 15: For Adults with Autism: Fostering Friendships and Romantic Relationships 301

Developing Friendly Relationships 302

Understanding the circle of relationships 302

Making first contact 304

For caregivers: Helping your dependent establish friendships 306

Recognizing (And Overcoming) the Challenges of Dating 307

Asking for a date 307

Behaving appropriately during the date 309

Opting for full or no disclosure 310

For caregivers: Moving on to dating 311

Taking It to the Next Level with Sexual Behavior 312

The most important part of boyfriend or girlfriend is “friend” 313

Engaging in sexual activity 314

For caregivers: Exploring sex education for people with autism 315

Chapter 16: Special-Needs Planning for the Future 319

Avoiding Common Financial Mistakes 320

Putting Plan to Paper: Getting Started 320

Taking account of your child’s prognosis 321

Keeping eligibility for government services in mind 322

Sizing up your estate 323

Considering living arrangements and guardianship 323

Involving an Attorney and/or Financial Planner 323

Writing Your Will 325

Setting up a special-needs trust 326

Giving a morally obligated gift 330

Designating guardianship 331

Part V: The Part of Tens 333

Chapter 17: Ten Tactful Responses to Challenging Questions or Comments 335

“What Special Talent Does He Have?” 335

“Why Can’t You Control Your Kid?” 336

“Asperger Snausperger. He Looks Fine. He Just Needs a Better Attitude.” 337

“Who Did He Inherit It From?” 337

“Why Should Your Child Get Special Treatment?” 338

“Are You Kidnapping That Child?” 338

The “Bad-Parent” Look 339

“Is She Still in Her Own World?” 339

“They Grow Out of It, Don’t They?” 340

“But She Doesn’t Look Autistic ” 340

Chapter 18: Ten Things to Do after a Diagnosis 341

Learn and Read as Much as Possible 341

Network with Other Families 342

Test, Test, Test 342

Investigate Sources of Financial Aid 342

Consider Major Lifestyle Changes 343

Set Up an Educational/Behavioral Program in Your Home 343

Begin Therapies 343

Address Your Child’s Diet and Nutrition 344

Don’t Give Up 344

Get Out and Relax 344

Appendix: Where to Go for More Help 345

Finding Other Helpful Texts 345

Specializing in autism spectrum disorders 347

Special-education publishers 347

Research journals and magazines 348

Surfing Informative Sites on the Web 348

Connecting with advocacy organizations 349

Perusing general-information sites 350

Having some fun 351

Gaining insight from people with an ASD 351

Chatting about autism 352

Exploring listserves 353

Accessing World-Wide Autism Organizations and Resources 354

Index 355

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