Guest Author - Bonnie Sayers
A lot has changed since my two children were diagnosed with autism back in 1998 and 1999. We did not get our Gateway computer until December of 1999 and going to the library with two children under the age of three was not in my mindset. I relied on pamphlets through the mail and making numerous phone calls. All I had for reading materials were the mainstream child and parenting magazines to see my children were not on target for their milestones.
When I first came across the word "autism" in a speech assessment report, I looked in the dictionary to find the meaning. I accessed the faxback system with the Autism Society of America and read through all those articles and resources. Now parents can take a free online course through the ASA to learn about autism.
There are two books that published in 2006 that are worth getting for the family that thinks their child may fall somewhere on the Autism Spectrum and need to do some more research to know if this is the reason for the child being developmentally delayed.
Does My Child Have Autism? - A Parent's Guide to Early Detection and Intervention in Autism Spectrum Disorders is written by Wendy L. Stone, Ph.D. (co-developer of STAT, The Screening Tool For Autism in Two year olds) with Teresa Foy DiGeronimo, M.Ed.
There are 206 pages including an index, resources, modified checklist for autism in toddlers (M-chat) and the Diagnostic Criteria for Autism from the DSM-IV. The chapters cover Early Intervention, working with your child at home, early diagnostic process, what should I look for and what exactly are autism spectrum disorders?
Does My Child Have Autism? breaks down the spectrum and covers PDD-NOS, as well as Asprger's Disorder and Rett's Disorder. Each chapter ends with some frequently asked questions. The checklists and listings are most helpful having all this compiled into one book for the parent to peruse at leisure and decipher through the lingo.
This includes language development milestones, parent observation checklist, dos and don't of early detection, characteristics of pervasive developmental disorders, variability in symptom expression for two year olds with autism. These showed communication behaviors, repetitive behaviors and social behaviors for three different kids with autism. For the checklist the options are rarely, sometimes and often for fourteen questions.
"Don't expect your Pediatrician to make a diagnosis during a routine office visit." This is a great tip in the Don't list. Do request an assessment as soon as you suspect symptoms of autism." The characteristics of PDDs included Social Impairment, Language and Communication disorder and onset prior to 36 months. The columns for this table had Autistic Disorder, Asperger's Disorder, PDD/NOs, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder and Rett's Disorder.
When my children first got the diagnosis the two Disorders I heard about were Tourette's Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Does My Child Have Autism? lists that at ten to eleven months says and understands "dada or "mama" and "bye-bye" as milestones to look for in any child. At twelve to seventeen months they will "follow simple directions accompanied by gestures". These are just guidelines as development varies from child to child.
The Early Diagnosis Process goes into cognitive testing, the parent interview, telling family members about autism, medical evaluations and red flags for an immediate evaluation. Two of the red flags are no babbling or gesturing by twelve months, as well as loss of language or social skills at any age. This section also goes into the screening tools and which professional to see for various evaluations. (Psychologist, Neurologist, Geneticist, Audiologist and Speech-Language Pathologist)
Early Intervention is your child's best hope for the future chapter discusses IEPs, learning styles, a listing of Kindergarten readiness skills, such as " follow group instructions, share materials and take turns, make transitions between activities"
Each chapter also lists what parents say, which are tips in a box. "The lack of information at the time of diagnosis about what these kids can possible achieve in the future can leave a parent in a heap on the floor. Early intervention helps so much."
This is a book chock filled with charts and lists to help the parent decipher the behavior and observations of their child and help them prepare for therapies with a brief description of them. It is a great book to start off with and determine if autism spectrum disorder is what the child has. A glossary of all the terms would have made this book exceptional.
Could It Be Autism? - A Parent's Guide To The First Signs And Next Steps is written by Nancy D. Wiseman, Founder and President of First Signs, Inc.
This book contains 257 pages with an index, bibliography and recommended reading list. There are four parts of this book as well. Early Signs, The Path to Diagnosis, Helping Yoursef, Helping YOur Child and Second Steps and Beyond.
Section One discusses advocacy and parental rights, denial, developmental delays and milestones, talking to your child's Doctor and red flags. There are guidelines for preparing for an appointment like keeping a special notebook to write down questions. The red flags include, "no big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions by six months or thereafter."
There are stories shared from other families and recommended books listed in chapters. It is recommended to get a video out and document the progress of the child or lack thereof. A good tip in the Parent to Parent section states, "Sometimes the first person to become concerned about a child's development is not a parent; it's a grandmother, a friend, a teacher or a nanny."
There are copies of recommended screening tools that cover emotion and eye gaze, gestures, sounds, words and understanding. A listing of all professionals and what they do is in another chapter. This is noted as Building the Team. School System Services lists starting out and how to observe classrooms for your child and to be prepared for a fight and learn to negotiate.
The diagnosis steps are broken down with the evaluation, preparing and results. The last chapter shares other tips on connecting with your child, sample stories from other families that go into chelation, auditory integration, behavioral approaches, play therapy and social skills groups.
The remainder of the book is Second Steps and Beyond. Here parents learn how to tell others about their child with autism, how to share the diagnosis with the child, advocacy and reaching out.
This book shares a lot of personal experience from other families and deals with more than just the diagnosis. I would start with Does My Child Have Autism first as it has an easy reading style and more compacted with lists and charts to get the information you need quicky. Once you have comprehended the terms you may be ready to learn about therapies and prepare for school and meetings by reading Could It Be Autism.
I wish both these books were around when my kids were two years of age so I would have gained further insights quicker, which could have resulted in my son Nicholas obtaining Early Intervention Services. Families can get both books with Mom perusing one and Dad or Grandma sifting through the other one to better understand the child who may be getting a diagnosis in the near future.
MARK INC Ministries - In this one hour long interview two sets of parents share how they learned their children had a form of autism and how that diagnosis impacts their lives.
Healthcare Gift Cards
Educational Autism Tips for Families 71 page resourceful ebook for families entering the school system with a recent autism diagnosis. Find out what issues take place over the course of a school day and meet these challenges head on.