Autism: Parenting an Autistic Teenage Boy – Lance Childs
Let’s ignore the floating boy on this probably photoshopped front cover (as distracting as this is), this book is apparently the 3rd in a series and I think I’ve got the teenage girl equivalent of this book so it will be interesting to compare.
As with some of the other books I’ve reviewed, this book has some okay/good information if you don’t already know much about autism. However, by the time your autistic child has grown into a teenager I would like to think that you might know a lot of this things in this book? I appreciate the teenage years are difficult, for pretty much every parents, but some of the information in this book is not things you should only be starting to do once your child is 13+ years old.
You can reinforce learning by keeping things consistent in his life. For instance, if he uses sign language in school, he should do the same thing at home. If he is used to expressing his anger in drawing at the therapist’s clinic, then you should encourage him to do the same thing when he comes home.
Like I said, reasonable enough advice but it’s advice that would also apply to autistic children. Anyway, it’s pretty standard advice throughout and if you’ve read another, more substantial book on autism then there’s a good chance you’ve already read the information that’s in this book. Some of it is good, and is advice that I would use at work:
Engage in role play. You can show your child what he needs to do in certain situations through a play. For instance, you can both pretend that you are in a shop, so he needs to say hello, ask the assistant what he needs, and say thank you after being assisted. Show him how he needs to deal with other customers, how he should wait his turn, and more.
However, there are some sections that are less useful, such as the chapter that begins, ‘The most common behaviour among kids with autism is aggressiveness’. Really? Again, with the hormones of adolescence kicking in there may be an increase in aggressive behaviour amongst all teenagers, not just autistic ones, but I would argue that to say aggressiveness is the most common behaviour for autistic children is inaccurate and misleading.
There’s a section on repetitive behaviours, which is basically about stimming, and whilst the parts about redirection and limitation are not too bad in and of themselves, there is one particular paragraph that stands out:
Stage an early intervention. A repetitive behaviour that is deemed normal in a child may no longer be considered as such in a teenager. Before the behaviour begins to take root in your son, it would be better to prevent it right away.
I don’t condome taking away/preventing non-harmful stims. Redirecting, some limitation, relocating…fine they may all be necessary and at times are needed, but preventing stimming is probably only going to cause more problems in the long run.
So there’s some misleading information in this and overall it’s not a great book. I would be a little worried if parents of autistic teenagers hadn’t already encountered the advice in this book somewhere else.