I am going to start a new job soon, so until then I have plenty of time to read. Wich is quite useful, since I need to do some research before I start. Among others, I will work with kids on the autism spectrum, which is, I believe, not a small responsability.
The first time I ever heard about autism was in a movie, when I was a teenager. I remember, thinking, without any medical knowledge, that they seem to see the world through a different filter than ours. ( Random fact: in one of my favorite episodes from House MD, his pacient is an autistic kid.) During my primary teaching years I have only worked with an autistic child once, and it wasn’t easy engaging him. So I set out in my mind, that I’m going to try and gather as much information as I can.
The first book that came into my hand was Autism-a practical guide for parents, by Alan Yau. He worked for many years with children on the autistic spectrum, in specialized camps, as a teacher, and now at Autismsparks (www.autismsparks.com)
In the beginning of the book, he tries to offer a basic understanding of what autism is. In my opinion, what makes it really hard to define, is that every case is unique, it’s difficult to generalise. The author defines it as ‘a life-long developmental disability that affect a person’s ability to communicate and to make sense of our world.’ He does share lots of stories that show the diversity of the ways in wich the condition can manifest. Some kids with diagnosis are not verbal at all, some of them are, some of them have trouble connecting with other human beings, some quite the opposite.
He talks of the importance of Intensive Play, wich is the kind of play where you lose yourself in the interaction, and you share some authentic moments with the child. This is meant to facilitate the connection between the two of you. It’s very important to think of what would appeal to the child from their point of view.
Alan Yau offers many practical tips, on how to get their attention and keep it, how to get them to do something they are not keen on, how to engage them in learning, how to help them find their well-being, when to teach them and so on. Throughout the book, he highlights the importance of play. The strategies presented are easy to use and easy to understand, and they are made even clearer by examples of situations from the author’s own experiences. He also shares in his book a resourses page, which is a great platform for parents to explore.
Although I am not a parent, I found the book quite helpful. As the title says, it’s mainly practical, so I will need to read some more theory, as I found that part a little bit short, but the strategies he shares are well-structured, original and valuable. What I loved most about the book, was how from it’s pages really shone through that the author is someone who has worked with children on the autistic spectrum in real life, and not just someone writing stuff from a desk.
PS: If you are interested in the book, you can get the ebook version for free from: