July 9, 2020 – Finished Reading
July 8, 2020 – Started Reading
Review Many of the books about autism that I'd previously read were from the turn of the century or earlier. The up-to-date information in this book is very welcome. Dr. Mitchell recommends that parents speak to and correspond with autistic adults who can tell the parent what accommodations would have been helpful to them as children.
Dr. Mitchell advises against programs and treatments for autistic people that are known to cause physical, mental and emotional harm to the people. Paraphrasing: "Even though there's a considerable reduction in the use of electric shocks and cattle prods in this type of program..." Refreshingly, Dr. Mitchell tells parents not to believe those who claim there is a "cure" for autism. Also, she says that a treatment so expensive that it would require parents to get a second mortgage should be thought about twice or three times or more before deciding to do it, and that parents should explore less expensive options beforehand.
Dr. Mitchell informs parents that their autistic child will grow up to be an autistic adult, and that it would help them to have good, positive learning experiences as a child. She repeats several times that parents and other authority figures in a non-verbal child's life shouldn't talk about that child in front of the child. The non-verbal child may well understand and internalize negative messages. The repetition in that case was because of Dr. Mitchell's sense of how very important that is to keep in mind. Other repetition from one chapter to others is because Dr. Mitchell doesn't assume that a parent will read every chapter in order. She does say which chapters have more information on a certain topic.
It was off-putting to me that Dr. Mitchell used "he" about 99% of the time when talking about the autistic child. Also, teachers were mostly "she." But only using "he" for the child seemed very exclusionary, and struck me as cutting off certain avenues of thought. If the parent's child is a boy, that wording choice probably wouldn't seem to be a problem. If the child is a girl or non-binary, there will be some bad disconnects. There were a few typos in the book, and wrong homonyms including the use of "discrete" instead of "discreet," a perpetual error in much of the fiction I read. (Somewhat off topic: Romance authors who know that there is a word that's spelled "discrete," put it out of your mind. Completely forget that that word exists. The word you want is "discreet." Trust me.)
I did read all the chapters, but I didn't particularly mind the repetition in there for those parents who might pick and choose among chapters. Another really good piece of information that I didn't especially see in older books is that most autistic children learn and understand things much better when they have a visual reference to refer to. A lot of autistic children have trouble with auditory processing, Dr. Mitchell says. Between that issue and possible sensory overload and/or emotional overload, a great deal of verbal instruction or correction may be lost on a child. A visual schedule and visual instructions are highly likely to be much more conducive to learning for that child and for other children in a classroom with them. Visual information will very often be much easier to process, and can be referred back to. This may also help children with attention deficit issues, or non-autistic children who have some information-processing issues.
I highly recommend the book for being up to date and having really helpful information and suggestions. It encourages parents, who know their child well, to put some trust in their instincts about whether a particular program or treatment would be helpful to their own child. That was good, too.