Newest Review: ... the very broad ASD you will find at least one attribute that you recognise in yourself. Sorry if I have rambled, I am extremely passionat... more
Autism, Don't be afraid
Member Name: Logan33
Advantages: All encomapssing book regarding a tricky condition
This was originally on CIAO reviewing the book titled below. I'm going to keep it as a book review despite the book not appearing on Dooyoo because anyone who finds themself in the same position as me will benefit from this book.
Autism Spectrum Disorders - Chantal Sicile-Kira
Just as an introduction, I am a special needs teacher and I specialise in teaching sport across the ages of 11 to 16. As part of my job, I deal with a number of children from different backgrounds and conditions, from physical disabilities through to behavioural problems. In particular our school has a dedicated ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder) unit and I work closely with the ASD teachers to provide the best opportunities for the kids in those classes. Its therefore with a huge amount of passion that I can review the above mentioned book and perhaps give everyone a small insight into the world of Autism.
The author of the book Chantel Sicile-Kira has worked within the field of Autism for over 20 years, both as a parent and in her professional capacity. Without wanting to become to biographical, her first experiences within the field of autism was at Fairview State Hospital, California, teaching self-help and community living skills to severely developmentally disabled and autistic adolescents in preparation for their de-institutionalization. Unknown to her at the time, this experience shaped her career, in particular her son was diagnosed with autism when they were living in Paris. It was fair to say that back then (1990's) treatments/programmes for autism were hard to find, so they moved to England and enrolled on a home programme which would help analyse his behaviour.
It was these experiences that propelled Chantal towards writing and speaking to people about autism. To list all of the work she has achieved would take up the majority of the review so instead I'll direct you to her website if you would like more information (chantelsicile-Kira.com) . I would add at this point that her work is wonderful, truly philanthropic and a huge contribution to a condition that is largely misunderstood.
The strength of the book is really its simplicity. I was worried when I first thought about buying a book regarding autism, because I immediately thought it would be heavy going and I would struggle to get anything out of it. I couldn't have been more wrong.
The book itself is broken down in to easy subject areas, looking at the key questions surrounding the topic.
The causes of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs)
The different categories of ASDs
Why people with an ASD act the way they do
An analysis of the different treatments, therapies and dietary interventions currently available
Coping strategies and practical tips for families
Educational needs and programs
Adolescence and ASDs
Teaching strategies and resources for educators and other professionals
Work and college for young adults
Adults life with an ASD
Advocating for a person with an ASD
Planning for the future
The book is written with a free flowing colloquial style which makes it more like reading an advise pamphlet rather than a scientific journal. I like this because the subject area is already shrouded with enough misconception and ambiguity, let alone the writing style adding to the issue. However this does not detract from the value of the book or its insightful analysis of the topic area. It is detailed and thorough in its approach, but maintains a easy reading style throughout.
I also love the way that the book is punctuated with real life examples of living with autism. The diagnosis of autism is really still in its elementary stages compared to the diagnosis of other conditions, therefore by sharing experiences from both parents of autistic children, professionals and those living with autism, you get a well rounded, analytical and insightful appraisal. The book is not just about understanding autism, but also how to cope with it and develope planning strategies.
MY EXPERIENCES WITH AUTISM
Just as a foreword, the following is a completely honest account of how I felt when I first met the kids from the ASD unit at my school. This is not meant to offend anyone as I hope to explore the issues of my initial ignorance of the condition, to aid the understanding of others. Having now had 2 years experience, I can look back at all the errors I made, but feel it is relevant to highlight them as many people act the same way as I did through lack of understanding when they first meet someone with autism.
I joined my school 2 years ago. I was new to teaching and I was certainly new to special education. I did however have bags of enthusiasm and an open mind.....I wasn't sure what to expect. I was given some advise regarding autism, but in truth this made me more nervous rather than more confident (which I think was the intention!)
Well my first lesson with the ASD class was terrifying. I didn't know how I was supposed to act and I wasn't even sure how the kids would react to me. My first analysis was that some of the kids seemed to be more heavily affected than others. By this I mean that some of the kids appeared as totally "normal" to me (I hate this expression but please bare with me) and others showed symptoms more typical to what I was expecting (impaired speech, lower social interaction).
It was a sports class and we were playing a calm game called "botcha" (basically throwing balls into hoops on the ground). However being my first day and wanting to make a good impression, I tried to inject a bit of excitement into the game by commentating on their efforts. This was a big mistake.
Some of the kids loved it as I did my best John Motson impression, getting to fever pitch as the ball would roll into the hoop. Looking around however, I noticed one or two of the kids sitting there silently with their hands over their ears. Infact one child on the end (and closest to me) had inverted their jumper right over their head in an attempt to "block out" the noise I was creating.
This mismatch of behaviour perhaps confused me the most. Firstly, my behaviour (In this case the noise I was creating) seemed fine to some of the kids, but abhorrent to others. Also the reactions to the noise created completely different responses. I knew at this point, I was going to find out more.
As the game progressed, other behaviours started being exhibited. For instance, I could never change the order at which they took their throws. Quite literally some of the kids refused point blank to have their turn because it was "XXXX go first".
I was also noticing that some children had funny "traits" things that they would keep doing, like blowing three times before every throw or touching the bench or saying the same phrase, almost like a compulsion, they had to do it or it would end in failure. I found that a couple of the kids would mirror what I was doing or saying, for instance I would say it was "XXXXXX go next" and I would get a chorus of "XXXXX go next" from around the room.
At the end of the lesson, there were still strange events taking place. One of the children refused to get ready because they couldn't find their socks. "Don't worry I said, put your other clothes on and we'll find them in a minute". He just sat there in his gym kit for the next ten minutes until I was told that unless he puts his clothes on in the correct order, he won't get ready.
I could see I was going to need some help because unlike many conditions, Autism seemed to have no boundries or patterns........the kids all reacted differently. They each had a different stimulus to set off their autism, and they each displayed it in completely different ways.
It was at this point that I decided to read up on the subject of autism and Chantel Sicile-Kira book really has had an outstanding impact on the way that I teach. It helped answer all the questions I had regarding autism. What is it? How is it caused? Why do autistic people act like they do? How can I manage their behaviour. It also helped me challenge my intial beliefs regarding autism and gave me the understanding I needed to create the best relationships with the kids I teach.
This book is invaluable if you are new to the world of Autism. An excellent read which changed the way they I view autistic people completely.
I hope that helps,
Summary: Fantastic read, insightful, informative and interesting.