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Teaching Young Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

By Clarissa Willis
Gryphon House

PO Box 207
Beltsville,MD 20704

Teaching Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder is an in-depth look at how to understand and help young children who are struggling with these disorders. Some statistics have stated that as many as 1 in 250 children struggle with some form of Autistic Spectrum Disorder. This book will give parents the tools to spot what may be a problem, as well as skills to help children overcome behavioral and learning difficulties. In fact, the book has so many practical ideas it could also be used with normal preschool children to help them learn basic skills.

The book is divided into ten chapters and also has a helpful glossary and index. There is also a thorough book list to help parents in their search for information. The book seems especially geared towards the group preschool setting, but the content is helpful for all who are dealing with behaviors that may indicate autism.

The first chapter has information about the different types of autism as well as how autism is diagnosed. Treatments are discussed, and at the end of the chapter there is a book list and mini glossary.

The next chapter has a helpful question-and-answer section about many of the behaviors autistic children exhibit, and the remaining chapters give detailed strategies for overcoming these behaviors. These strategies could be especially useful for home-educators as they give specific activities for learning. One example is the strategy titled "Books that Teach a Lesson": the parent and child read a story which will reinforce a social skill or character quality (e.g., respect, sharing). A list of suitable books is included. This is an activity we do in our homeschool often; all children need this kind of instruction.

In the chapter on life skills, the book provides a list of points to remember when teaching a new skill. With autistic kids, they recommend making a picture card to reinforce each step. For example, for the process of brushing teeth, there would be a card showing the toothbrush being rinsed, then toothpaste applied, and so on. I found this chapter especially useful with my own family.

There are so many helpful ideas in this book--ideas which, although directed toward preschools and autistic children, could be used by any family. I have seen many different books for preschoolers and kids with special needs. The unique thing about this one is that it addresses not just the academic issues, as many of these books do, but the social and practical aspects as well. I am eager to try out these ideas with my own normal preschoolers and in our work with children in Mexico. While not specifically for homeschoolers or Christians, it is nonetheless a very useful resource.

Product review by Jennifer Pepito, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, February 2007

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