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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Book Review: Autism Every Day

Teacher, autism trainer and mother -Alyson Beytien has performed a magic act.  I don’t mean raising three boys with autism and not going insane. I mean writing an entertaining book about the challenges and joys of raising her unique and lovable guys while making readers LOL (… “laugh out loud”) and  wonder -    HDSDI (how does she do it!).

“Autism Every Day” is Alyson’s story of a life filled with the many acronyms familiar to every parent of a child with special needs, the funny and not so funny experiences that make her laugh and cry and the strategies she has learned through her training and on the job parenting. I use the author’s first name because readers will quickly feel like they know Alyson. She is the shopper in Walmart trying to diffuse a tantrum, the parent who cries at IEP meetings and friend who dances next to her child in public to explain away his unusual body movements (it’s a family dance she says!!).   
Pages saturated with love and humor are also pungent with words of wisdom such as:
·      Visual schedules are life savers. They indicate what will happen, when and how long it will last (i.e. doctor’s visit, shopping, Christmas dinner)
·      children with autism need to be taught flexibility by changing things up just enough to be tolerable but not so much as to cause a meltdown (hint: choice cards can help with this).
·        recognize a child’s unique expression of love-such as creating physical contact by backing into a person
·      Use advice from your most trusted supporters even if the majority opinions differ
·   Bring a yummy treat to an IEP meeting to set the tone of teamwork (or one might say- bribery)
Readers won’t realize that they are learning 150 strategies since they are cleverly tucked into funny anecdotes later to be summarized at the end of the chapter. My favorite is the toilet training competition told by Ron the sportscaster with minute by minute descriptions of match-ups between son and mother in the battle of the bathroom. I am happy to report three successful toilet training contests –mom won with the aid of action figures, candy, dad demonstration and a toilet vigil.
As an occupational therapist and mother of a young man with Aspergers syndrome I was familiar with the sensory and behavioral strategies described in this book. But even those of us long enmeshed in the world of autism will love this book for its humor, honesty and poignant stories. For parents and other family members new to the bewildering world of autism your friend Alyson will remind you that every family is unique and wonderful. Now the rest of the world needs to learn this, too!
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1 comment:

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