I received a bundle of books on autism for this review. Because I have a child with high-functioning autism/borderline Asperger's, I was excited as well as a bit apprehensive about reading through this material. Although my child has gone through a series of tests to diagnose him, we have never sought any therapy based on the diagnosis. Instead, we have just learned to interact with him on his level. It's been a good bit of trial and error, but we were pretty sure that we would be able to figure out what is best for our son. We are so very grateful for the chance to homeschool him!
Ten Things Your Student with Autism Wishes You Knew by Ellen Notbohm is a good book. Although written to the public school parent and teacher, the information is beneficial to the homeschooling parent. The author emphasizes that parents, teachers, and children need to work together as a team; they need to interact and learn from each other daily. She discusses the way an autistic child hears what is being said and explains how communication between autistic children and non-autistic people is often "garbled" and not understood well by the autistic child. Ms. Notbohm stresses that patience is key when working with autistic children. This book is a fairly quick and easy read, and I have to say that, after reading it, I feel very good about our decision to homeschool our son! A good public school education for autistic children really depends upon the teachers that they have while in school. The author gives much detail on the situation for autistic kids in public school, and it's definitely a lot of work for the parents to be sure their child is getting the education to which they are entitled.
The workbook set called No Fishing Allowed was written to teach a child what to do if someone is trying to bully him. Again, it was written to the public school student. The child receives his workbook before attending a school assembly. Each lesson contains information to read before attending the assembly and then has questions to answer after the assembly is over. From the teacher's book: "No Fishing Allowed is a peer violence prevention program that addresses key elements of bullying behaviors. It emphasizes empowerment strategies for all students who are affected by bully/target relationships." Autistic children and other children with neurological deficiencies are often prime targets for bullies. They often do not pick up on social cues very well and have a difficult time maintaining friendships. No Fishing Allowed will help these children understand when they are the objects of ridicule and bullying. I experienced this situation first-hand when my son attended a private school for a semester; he had no idea that his "friend" was actually showing bullying behavior and would make excuses for being picked on. If I had had a book like this, I would have been better able to explain what was really going on.
Preparing for Life: The Complete Guide for Transitioning to Adulthood for those with Autism and Asperger's Syndrome is a must-read for any parent with an autistic child. This 322-page book covers everything! The first eight chapters briefly discusses autism spectrum disorders, preparing a child for life after high school, and skills a young adult should have in preparation for life away from home. Chapter 9 is the bulk of the book; it gives the parents detailed lessons to go through with their autistic child. Topics include:
Each lesson in Chapter 9 is very thorough and easy to understand. Honestly, the author has thought of everything! There are worksheets and activities for the child to complete as well as pictures to help emphasize points.
- Nonverbal cues/body language
- Dealing with anger/frustration
- Dealing with anxiety
- Building and maintaining friendships (and dealing with roommates)
- Dealing with school and family demands
- Employment skills
- Money matters
- Emergency situations
Because there is so much material to cover, I would recommend starting this book by the junior year in high school at the latest. To do a thorough job of covering the material, allow two years to complete the study. I do wish that more pictures were included to emphasize various behaviors. Many autistic children have a difficult time reading facial cues and actions of others, so more pictures would be welcome.
I have often wondered how I was going to transition my son from homeschool to a local community college when the time came. Even though he insists he wants to do college at home, which is not a bad idea, he also wants to learn how to drive trains and can't learn that at home! I know that I will have a bit of extra instruction to go over with him so that he can function normally when in social situations. Preparing for Life is a book that I will bring out again when the time is right to equip my child for life after homeschool.