Universal Applicability

One of the most delightful aspects of growing up, for parents at least, is how kids apply what they learn to new situations, often in an incredibly apt and surprising manner.  All too frequently I assume the information hasn’t penetrated, or if it has, it’s never likely to see the light of day again.  But that just goes to show what a narrow-minded skeptic I truly am.

Hence I’m busy in the kitchen, preparing dinner, peeling potatoes, chopping carrots and frying onions, the basics for many a meal.  The aroma permeates the household, warm, piquant and inviting, when I hear a commonplace noise from my youngest.  He stumbles through the kitchen, a la ‘Lawrence of Arabia in the Desert’– clutching his throat with gagging noises.  But he pauses a moment, pinches his nostrils firmly closed, hits the extractor fan button and announces in a nasal tone, “You know Mom, I fink it’s time for a courtesy flush.”

Meanwhile, if you still have the chance to win a copy of DJ Kirkby’s Without Alice – just read the post and leave a comment.  I think I’ll keep this open until the 1st of December and then it will make a great Holiday gift for some lucky person.


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Nanowrimo

Just let me share a trivia fact with you.  Did you know that Elizabeth George wrote ‘A Great Deliverance’ in 19 days?  Yes, that’s right, only 19 days to write a whole book –432 pages. It’s hard to take in, that kind of productivity and creativity; that’s about 23 pages a day.  Interesting, but so what you might ask.  Well, November is National Novel Writing Month, or Nanowrimo for short, so this is a quick reminder in case you want to take part too.   Thousands of writers all over the world have been inspired to write 50,000 words over thirty days, that’s a mere 1,666 words a day.

Still sounds like too much?

Maybe you’re just like me?  October’s over, and we’re rushing toward Thanksgiving, then it’s the holidays and before we know it we’ll be straight into another new year, another year when I haven’t quite managed to write that New York Times best seller, again.

It’s all very well for the likes of Elizabeth George to write a novel in 19 days, but that’s not for people like me. People like you; people who have lives, and jobs, and work, and in my case, far too much laundry.  It’s called procrastination. For many a potential writer that’s exactly the problem; the embryonic novel is perfect but it’s still in our heads.  Until it’s given birth and written out, that’s all it will ever be, a dream corked in a skull.

But maybe you’re not like me.  Perhaps you’ve already written your first novel or even a second, more, but they’re not quite finished or need more work, what then?  Whether this is your first attempt or your fiftieth makes no difference.  There’s still every reason to have a go.

I know for a fact, well probably, that Ms. George’s work didn’t end with the final period.  After that, she had a dozen re-writes, edits and revisions.  It took much longer to reach the final draft, but she still had to take the first step and write the book.  Maybe we can’t all be best sellers but we can all write the first draft.

If nothing else, you can think of it as therapy for free– be your own life coach – let your inner demons out, but don’t unleash them – instead, slap them down on a page.

As the canvasser asked on the telephone last night – “can you commit to completing your postal ballot today?”  How many pages, I wondered, by hand, I groaned, with a pen, I thought?  Personally, I can’t promise A Great Deliverance, but I can guarantee a little package, no matter how small.

Let me know if you’re having a go?  For me it’s not just laundry, but one IEP, parent teacher conferences and all the other stuff, but then, we all have other stuff don’t we.


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Something Different about Dad

Written by Kirsti Evans and Illustrated by John Swogger, published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers

This book is aimed at young people between the ages of 7 and 15 who have a parent or other adult in their lives with Asperger Syndrome and is styled and designed to meet that need.  As the writer explains it should act as a springboard to further discussion, a tool to break the ice and provide a starting point.

Today, before posting, I have read this book through a third time, just to make sure.

To begin with it’s important to recognize the first two characters, Kirsti and John.  They are important because they pop up later in the book, sprinkled here and there to explain what is going on in the stories.  This point wasn’t immediately clear to me, so I just thought I’d mention it.  Their role could be described as narrators, to clarify aspects of the scenarios.

The book is presented in a casual comic book style and has a comfortable air about it due in part to the font of the typeface and more importantly, the illustrations.  To me, the pictures are a stylized combination of cartoon, anime and manga.  This is great because it makes them familiar and accessible to most young people and it is their very neutrality that makes them universally applicable–the reader can superimpose or imagine their own relative in the place of the characters presented.

One particularly helpful element which could prove useful to many people is the illustration on page 29 [in my copy].  This highlights four aspects of  Asperger Syndrome:  imagination, communication, the senses and emotions, and relationships.  Each one is associated with an icon, a bit like a PEC but the visual works like a shorthand or  short-cut to help someone recall areas which can cause difficulties.

The book provides a number of scenes of everyday family life where everything does not go according to plan.  They focus on different family members in turn.  They are lengthy and detailed but should strike a chord of familiarity.  On completion of each ‘story,’ the narrators untangle the scene to discover what went wrong and why, and more importantly, how the situation could be handled differently in the future.

From this you can tell this book could be a very useful tool, especially because of the positive aspect of ‘how could we do this better.’

If it sounds as if I have reservations you would be right, but this is because the subject matter is complex.  It is difficult to make a complex subject easier to understand.  Simplification is a challenge but necessary–how else could we explain Asperger Syndrome to a youngster?

On the other hand, for the young reader, this book covers any number of sophisticated issues.  Throughout the book something nagged at me, but I couldn’t pin point what it was until I came to the last ‘story.’  Number 6 is called:- ‘What about me?’ where the son of the family takes center stage.  Here he voices what worried me. The book focuses on helping children understand their parent or adult friend with Asperger Syndrome.  It  helps a child look at the situation differently and learn new approaches to reduce future conflict, all of which is great, but it’s asking a lot of that child, any child.  I know these days we are often accused of being too child focused but there is also the accusation that parents are too ‘me–selfish–my time’ obsessed as well.

But that would be only one small blip in an otherwise very useful and sensitively constructed book.  The first thirty plus pages explain many of the aspects of Asperger Syndrome in an illustrative and interesting manner but younger readers may struggle here.  A great deal depends upon the age of the reader and their level of sophistication.  If I were a parent in that situation, I would read the book in it’s entirety and then select one story that best suited my families circumstances for my child to read, preferably together, especially if ‘attention span,’ is an issue.

I would congratulate the authors for producing a well thought out, wonderfully illustrated book which has broken new ground– an exciting new trend–hope it becomes a series? [hint, hint]

p.s. Spoiler alert / warning:-

Some more eagle eyed readers may be able to spot something which bears a remarkable resemblance to a clown face in a wall poster decorating one of the character’s bedroom.


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Without Alice by D.J. Kirkby

DSM IV and the creative writing force

This interview is loosely based upon our old fiend the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders edition IV – [a rivetingly fun read, probably just before DSM V is published] and some of the more crass things that people sometimes ask out loud.

Here I am ‘interviewing’ DJ Kirkby about the creative writing process that produced her most recent novel called “Without Alice,” and she graciously shares with us the benefits of her experience.

The blurb reads, “Meet a man who you will love to hate until you learn to love him.”  If you win this giveaway, let me know if you do?

1.    Everybody knows that autistic people are emotionally stunted, incapable of empathy and can’t put themselves in someone else’s shoes – so how do you?

I’m glad you warned me that these questions had an element of sarcasm in them or I would have been quite shocked to be asked questions like this by yourself.  We are, of course, quite capable of empathy.  I think that we tend to use it in a more subtle and practical fashion (for example; ensuing that steps have been taken to ensure that  the person in need of empathy will not come to any further harm first and foremost) than neurotypical people might and therefore it may not be as obvious to those who are looking for displays of empathy from people with autism but should be immediately obvious to those on the receiving end who are likely to be those who know us well.

2.    You’ve started pretty late as a writer, is that because you’re autistic?

I actually started writing as soon as I could string a few words together to form sentences. I wrote my first story when I was six years old and found that it was a good way to try and explain how different I felt from everyone around me. So I do think that being autistic does define me as a writer as it definitely shaped the way I write.

3.    Autistic people are so single minded that they can tune everything else out – doesn’t this fact give you an unfair advantage by comparison to the average writer?

Erm, yes it does as long as writing is my current favourite thing to be obsessed with. However, when I find a new interest then writing takes a back seat for a while in favour of the new obsession.

4.    How come you’re not an engineer or a computer nerd if you’re really autistic?

Because I find engineering very boring…though I do have to confess to being a bit of a computer nerd. Autistic people are all individuals just like neurotypical people and therefore we all have different areas of interest and hobbies.

5.    Were you diagnosed by a real doctor, one with qualifications, certification and expertise in autism?  Or are you self diagnosed?  What do you think about people who self diagnose?

I was diagnosed by Dr Gould at the Lorna Wing Centre for Autism which is the diagnostic centre for the national Autistic Society UK.  However, I think that there is nothing wrong with self diagnosis if it helps the individual understand themselves better and to be able to put more effective coping mechanisms in place.

6.    I’ve heard that ‘female’ autistics ‘present differently.’  Is there any truth to this?  In what way might this be applicable to you?  In what way[s] has this affected your writing style?

I’m sorry but I don’t understand this question. My son and I are both autistic and we are very similar.  This could be because he is my son or for some other reason. I don’t think it has any effect on my writing style though but a psychiatrist might tell you different.

7.    Do you have a commercial advantage as a writer claiming to have autism?   What do you say to people who accuse you of exploiting the condition?

As far as I know I am the only autistic novelist though there are many people with autism who write poems, stories and non fiction. I don’t think there is a commercial advantage to this, in fact I think it is more likely to put people off buying my books seeing as autism is considered to be, in part,  a communication disability. Regardless, I am proud to be a person with autism and will continue to tell people even if it means they may be less likely to buy my books. I am happy to say that no one has ever accused me of exploiting the fact that I am autistic and I do wonder why anyone ever would want to.

7.    Where do your ideas come from?

I’ve spent my life studying people around me to try and pick up clues of how to behave in a more neurotypical manner and this observation is also great writing fodder

8.    How did you handle rejections of your work?  Which worked for you better – perseverance or unrealistic optimism?

I don’t like rejections but did get some.  Luckily I had more positive feedback on my writing over the years and this encouraged me to keep on writing and submitting my writing.

10.Do you think that a solitary writer’s life is ideal for you since you have Asperger’s Syndrome?  If you’re on your own then no-one will notice the lack of all those multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to eye gaze, facial expression, body postures, and gestures to regulate social interaction surely?

I think saying that writer’s live solitary lives is  stereotyping. Some do but many don’t. I prefer to be less sociable in real life but can be quite social on line on sites such as facebook and twitter.  I don’t know if that is just the way I am or because of autism or a bit of both.

11.Do you have any friends or appropriate peer relationships such as a writing mentor?  If not, is this because of your Aspergers?  Would you like to have such relationships or are they unimportant to you?

I have a few friends and they are my friends because they are willing to tolerate long periods of exclusion from me and my life.  Like i said, I’m not keen on going out socialising and I also hate talking on the phone.  Which means I communicate with my friends by email and text even though they live in the same town as me and I go out with them only very occasionally.  Usually to a restaurant…I’m easily bribed with the promise of a good meal.

12.I know you have a family life but what makes your family different from normal families?  What shared interests do you have as a family or do you all do your own thing?

Our family isn’t a lot different from other families except that we keep to ourselves a lot more.  We spend a lot of time together.  We all enjoy eating outside, gardening, working on our allotment, being at the seaside (though we go to a beach that almost no one else uses), working on our allotment, playing with our pets, gaming, horse riding (youngest son) rugby (middle son) football (husband and two older sons) reading and so on.

13.When writing, how much of your inspiration comes from your personality and how much from being an autistic person?  Is it possible to separate the two?

It is impossible to separate the two. I have to be very careful when I am editing in order to ensure I have enough dialogue in my books to satisfy the neurotypical readers so that I am showing rather than telling the story.

14.Would you describe yourself as lacking social or emotional reciprocity? If yes, then how can you write about it so well?  Is it all in your imagination?

Yes I am  instinctively less forthcoming in that area and have to make myself behave more neurotypically  when at work. I write about it well because I am a registered midwife and have spent countless hours supporting women and their families through the most complex and important  times in their lives from early pregnancy to the early postnatal period during which times I have been able to observe their interactions with each other.

15.Would you agree that your writing has become an encompassing preoccupation?  Do you think your writing is abnormal either in intensity or focus?

I would say no more so than any other writer.

16.Do you have a writing routine?  How strictly do you stick to the schedule?  How do you feel if something interrupts your time-table?

I write in the dark hours when I know everyone else is asleep and therefore I wont be interrupted.

17.Does your writing interfere with your work or other social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning?

Yes, sometimes, especially if I am trying to meet a writing deadline.

18.Did you have a normal childhood?  What would be your definition of normal?

I was raised by a hippie mother in the wilds of the Canadian West Coast.  I would say my childhood was normal to other s in the same situation and that would also be my definition of normal – normal is being the equivalent to the majority of those around you.  I am normal when I go to my adult autism group.

19.Does anyone else in your family have similar deficits?  If so, how will knowledge of their condition affect their careers?

Many people in my family have similar traits.  They are most definitely not considered deficits in our family. I think my son has the best opportunities available to him as he was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome when he was 6 and so he has his whole life to learn how to work with his autism and find different ways of doing things in order to achieve to the same level or way beyond those in his peer group.

20.Do you feel shame or embarrassment about having a mental disorder or do you feel empowered now you have a better understanding of who you are?

Being diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome was one of the most life enhancing things I’ve ever experienced. I have never been embarrassed to be autistic though I do get frustrated with people who seem to believe it is a cop out or an excuse.  I never use it as an excuse but I do sometime use it as a way of explaining why I behave the way I do.

21.How long does it take you to complete a book and how many times do you rewrite it?

It took me 2 years to write the first draft of my first novel and it looks like it will take me about the same for my next one.  I blame this on the fact that I work full time and doing so often drains me emotionally to the point at which I am incapable of writing. The rewrites seem endless but are worth it if it means that the end product is something which can be enjoyed by my readers.

22.Do you plan to keep writing or are you bored of it now?

A very good question. I plan to keep writing but am aware that I could become bored with it at some point.  At which time I will, of course, promptly drop it and move on to something else.

23.Do you have any overlapping/underlying diagnoses such as OCD or ADHD or anxiety?  If so, in what way do these conditions affect your writing?

I am extremely anxious and now have high blood pressure which I am sure is a direct result of a lifetime of worrying and fretting. I don’t think it has any effect on my writing as I don’t seem to feel anxious about that. The book signings and public appearances that follow on from having a book published do make me feel very anxious though.

24.Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

That an autistic person can write a novel.

25.Would you have anything to share or advice to give to other aspiring autistic writers?

Write it

Edit it

Share it

Learn from the criticism as well as the praise

Believe in yourself

***

Thank you Denyse for sharing that fascinating incite.  So, as you can see, Denyse has achieved the impossible; remained calm and resolute in the face of adversity.

You can visit Denyse at her old blog or better still go to the new site or buy Without Alice  available from Punked Books or from Amazon.

I have one copy to giveaway so make sure to leave a comment and I’ll contact you later if you’re a winner.


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Learning About Friendship by KI.I. Al-Ghani

This book concentrates on children with Asperger Syndrome and High-functioning Autism, and is designed to address many of the difficulties these children experience with friendships.  However, even if your [and my] children have not yet reached this stage of development, the book can still be a useful tool.

The book covers ten different scenarios.  Each chapter starts with an explanation to the adult, parent or carer and raises awareness of some of the common pitfalls.  This is then followed by a social story to illustrate how they can be overcome.  I enjoyed both aspects of these scenarios for several reasons.

Firstly, the explanation told me that the writer knows what she is talking about rather than preaching from on high.

Secondly, it is apparent from the text that her intuitive approach works–she gets the quirks and triggers–in that although you are working on one particular skill, there can be lots of other issues that interfere with the main plan.

Thirdly, she reveals parental errors in a kindly manner.  We know our mistakes, or some of them at least, and she understands why we made them.  To illustrate:- a child has an obsession and the parent literally buys into it.  We end up buying far too many dinosaurs, Thomas paraphernalia and Legos, because as she says, and I quote “a special interest may have been just the key needed to unlock the delay seen in the acquisition of speech and language.”

Fourthly, she used our childrens’ most common obsessions in the social stories – which is a great short cut for us parents as we don’t need to re-write them to fit our children – thank you!

Fifthly, [and this is one of the main reasons I would recommend this book] although as I already said, it’s designed for high functioning and asperger children, many of the social stories are easily adaptable for other children.  Here, you may be doubtful, but I am sure I can convince you by examining one story in particular, the second one- Spit and Chase.  This tackles the issue of children using inappropriate strategies to get attention.  It addresses the underlying behavior which results in spitting.  Here, the children involved are able to speak, but it could just as easily be the case if they were non-verbal.  It’s easier to unscramble the cause of a particular behavior if a child can communicate with words, but it’s not insurmountable if there is no speech.

We may think that some children may not be ready for such material but the underlying tenants described in the social stories are certainly applicable to both of mine, if in a somewhat simplified format and has certainly helped me formulate an approach for the future.

As a final note it would be remiss of me not to mention the illustrations that accompany the stories which are clear cut, black and white line drawings – perfect for my guys who always [used to] had a hard time with photographs of real people and color pictures.  They’re a wonderful and useful addition that complement the stories rather than detract from them.  It wasn’t so long ago that there were whole shelves of books which were off-limits because the pictures triggered all kinds of unpleasantness.

You can see more of K.I. Al-Ghani’s work over here at Kay’s slot at Jacketflap.

And you can buy your own copy from JKP or Amazon as well as her other books.

And lastly, for any of you budding authors out there, you might find it helpful to check out Marni Wandner’s Sneak Attack site which helps people promote their cause be that in the performing arts or other endeavors, such as book promotions, which I came across having read Monica Holloway’s Cowboy and Wills, which I’ll be reviewing shortly, a jolly good read.  And Marni Wandner – she’s a real ‘out of the box’ thinker.


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The Versatile Blogger Award

Stephanie from Embracing Chaos the Autism Blog

The Versatile Blogger award
The Versatile Blogger award
Quoting from Stephanie:-

Kathleen of autismherd has graciously recognized me for The Versatile Blogger award.  She was recognized by the blogger at Big Daddy Autism, who was recognized by a blogger at Floortime lite mama.  In order to accept the award, I have to tell you seven things about myself that you don’t already know.  Then, I have to pass this on to seven bloggers that I think are great.

First, the seven (random) things you don’t already know about me:

I’m going to share one thing which encompasses seven other things and explains even more things:-

For months I’ve been under the weather but not sure why?  Then I discovered ‘why’ namely hypothyroidism.  Apparently you pop a pill and you’re fixed, but for some people,  like me, it takes a lot longer.  So now I’m just emerging from the fog and getting closer to the right level of medication [I hope] so the underlying things, grumpiness, fatigue, numb brain, forgetfulness, heart palpitations, sweats and tremors are fading : )

[And yes, I thought it was just the menopause too so I ignored it]

So I’m going to try and get back into the swing of things kicking off with spending November at National Novel Writing Month where hopefully I’ll write something productive.  Maybe you could have a go to and if you do let me know.  Apologies for higgeldy piggeldiness but I’m clinging to my feeble excuses.

I’ll in my turn award :-

Crystal Jigsaw

DJ Kirby

Furiousball

Monica Holloway [yes I will write the review really, really soon]

Bridget – now she’s versatile!

Linda

Lastly, here’s a quick link to a giggle from Cartoon Church from Dave Walker where you can see a quick illustration of some of those pesky social skills.

And since we’re on links, a pal of mine sent me a link to this new site, the Golden Hat Foundation set up by Kate Winslet which might be of interest.

Additionally, since I’m playing catch-up……..

Autism Mom Rising: International Comment Leaving Week

Autism Mom Rising has a new post showcasing International Comment Leaving Week, which I’m reposting here.

Autism Mom Rising:

This campaign really gets it – comments are indeed the new hug. Stats feeds tell us that someone landed on our blog. A comment shows it’s actually been read and enjoyed. Comments build community around shared ideas and experiences. And, I’ll just come out and say it – they show advertisers we have an audience.

If it were it not for comments I’d probably just keep a journal.

Do you leave comments as often as you’d like? Sometimes I do. But reading blogs between appointments and swearing I’ll do it later does not always translate into action. Life gets in the way. That is why we NEED International Comment Leaving Week. It actually builds comment leaving into our schedules each month! How easy is that?!

If comments are the new hug then International Comment Leaving week is like giving and receiving a great big cyber bear hug for a week. Here’s how it works:

1. Register your blog here

2. Add the code for this in your sidebar (find code at above link).


IComLeavWe

IComLeavWe: Join the Conversation

3. During the 21-28th each month you are registered go to the master list of blogs each day. Select at least six blogs a day and leave comments. Return at least one comment that’s left on your blog.

Some people even aspire for Iron Commenter status, whereby they leave a comment on every blog listed. Iron Commenters get listed on The Wall of Honour . This is only for those who have that kind of time and is certainly not required.

MY FIRST EXPERIENCE WITH ICLW

September was my first ICLW. I was inspired to participate by my love of community. Mel of the blog Stirrup Queens organizes ICLW because she loves community too. A little context – Mel is to the broader in-vitro, infertility, adoption, miscarriage, infant loss community what Kim Wombles is to Autism with the directory.
Most of the blogs registered were Mel’s friends from the broader fertility seeking community. Being one of the few listed from a different community I learned a lot. Those without fertility concerns cannot fathom what these women go through just to have what we take for granted. It reminds me of how parents of typical kids have no idea how our children struggle for milestones that come so easy to their kids. We never know what it is like for someone else until we take the time to listen. I’m so glad I did.
Reading their blogs I felt empathy. Is that strange since I don’t share those fertility issues personally? Not really. These blogs house stories of struggle and actualization, from the joys of motherhood to the agony of child loss. I may be fertile but I know grief and loss. My child is still with me, but I did lose my son as I knew him. Of course, this is not the same as actually losing a child, but grief recognizes grief, no matter the degree or manifestation. Such loss splits the heart in a million pieces, then sends them out compassionately in all directions.

ICLW week is electric. You can feel it in the air as people buzz from blog to blog leaving a little dose of positivity behind. My blog had so many wonderful new visitors.

I told Mel what a moving experience September’s ICLW was for me. She encouraged me to invite the disability community to join in for October. So far Kim Wombles and I signed up. I hope others decide to join us. You’ll be glad you did.

Maddy:
I’ve signed up to do it, and I hope that directory members will also take advantage of the opportunity to build community. 🙂
I’m sure I’ve forgotten something [or other] but this will have to do for the moment.
p.s. yes my e-mail is also malfunctioning so if I’ve not replied to you personally I apologize but I don’t know how to fix it.

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My Child Has Autism, Now What?

By Susan Larson Kidd published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers Inc.

http://img.amazon.ca/images/I/51xvBa%2B77dL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

This slim volume is an ideal first read for parents and carers of children who have just found out about autism.  Susan Larson Kidd’s book demonstrates her years of experience in a forthright manner, avoiding jargon and with many practical examples, hints and tips.

Her ten chapters or steps give a broad overview of many of the pivotal issues that parents and children face, the realities of daily life, right down to the basics.  How basic?  The first chapter covers sleeping, eating and toileting, so yes, it’s a lot to cover but often, certainly for our family, that’s exactly what we needed, somewhere to start, right back to the fundamentals.

This is why I like this book so much because as the title says, ‘my child has autism, now what?’ that’s exactly how it feels at the beginning and how Susan Larson Kidd describes that emotional response in her introduction.  Many parents are completely overwhelmed and do what I did—hit the internet for information with thousands of entries, become distracted by the adverts down the side claiming cures by everything from chelation treatments to snake oil—and experience anxiety.  We’re buried in information, too much.  We need a primer and a starting point and that is what this book provides.

I also appreciate the style of the book and phraseology.  I don’t know if this was deliberate or incidental, but it works, it comes across as empowering.  For example, the second chapter:-

Step Two:  Help your child by using visual supports

There are many other ways of describing the topic but this conveys a different message entirely.  Not only that, Susan then goes on to explain why visual supports are helpful.  Then, she gives a whole host of practical suggestions that do not involve spending vast quantities of money on fancy specialized and expensive equipment.  It’s a ‘can do’ approach which avoids so many pitfalls that can snare the unwary.  It’s easy to forget how vulnerable parents can be when they’re children are first diagnosed, and I would take issue with the chapter on biomedical interventions but any writer on the subject of autism is obliged to address the matter.

She provides any number of useful websites, which is also helpful as I can remember being directed to similar sites or finding my own, only to discover that I’d inadvertently connected my computer to a virus or adverts.  I particularly liked the PEC site where you can design a schedule for free [very important the free] as long as it’s for your private use.

Throughout, the book is sprinkled with illustrations and examples which help drive a point home, clarify concepts and de-mystify complex issues.  But if you need any further convincing I would draw your attention to one short paragraph.  In my copy it’s on page 86, where Susan Larson Kidd tells me that she is crazy and provides an example of her craziness for me, the reader, to assess.  Her example tells of an autistic child in pre-school who hits.  She then goes on to describe the different strategies that the professionals adopt to address the problem—a visual which says ‘no hit,’ accompanied by a symbol. Why might this approach be a mistake? –she asks.

It seems like a solution, why would that be crazy?  There are rarely right or wrong answers in autism.  Wouldn’t that be a good way to start?  To be fair, I mis-quoted Susan.  She didn’t really say she was crazy, just that some of the things she sees professionals do [and I expect we parents are guilty too] drive her crazy.  If you are the parent of an autistic child, maybe you can see some of the pitfalls in this approach.  I can now, but I don’t think I would have done a few years ago and that’s why this is such a great book, because it makes us think about what we do and how we do it.  This is a book that helps parents understand the underlying issues so we are better able to help our children.  It gives us a starting point, what to do, how and why.

And if you want to know the answer, you can buy the book from JKP or Amazon but I’ll give you a hint in the meantime–we need to ask ourselves ‘why’ the child is hitting, ‘what’ the hitting tells us and ‘what do we need to teach the child to communicate instead?’  Now that’s my kind of crazy – thanks Susan.

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