Educating Autism – Anonymous
I don’t really know what’s going on with that front cover, I don’t think it would encourage anyone to read the book, especially since it has no title… I suppose the lack of title is because this book is only available in e-book format.
Anyway, this is a book written by a teacher who has worked the last 13 years in special education. It’s a very short (48 pages) book that doesn’t go in-depth into anything in particular but covers a number of topics briefly. It is a book aimed at parents. There wasn’t a great start to this book:
I have found some of these children to be witty, funny, kind, empathetic in ways that mainstream children are not and dare I say it, sociable. I have also found some of them to be violent, insular, isolated, grudge bearing and unteachable within all but the most specialised of school settings. I can tell within a few minutes of interacting with a child what their path is likely to be.
I don’t have an issue with the “good points/bad points” thing the author does because they’re just traits that can be seen in anyone, autistic or not. My issue is with the fact they can supposedly tell within minutes that this child’s life path is going to be… Even if we accept that they have had accurate predictions about children’s progress before, is this attitude not at risk of creating self-fulfilling prophecies? I’ve seen it happen before where staff think a child is unteachable and that child has been unteachable…until we got a new staff member who had no preconceptions about the child and then all of a sudden it was like working with a different child. So, not a great start.
Which is a shame, because the book isn’t that bad. There’s some things in it I don’t agree with, but overall the advice is pretty good. The author is satisfyingly blunt about the topic of cures and writes that autism cannot be cured and people should take a very, very conservative view of anything that says it can cure autism.
The author talks about self-stimulatory behaviour in a positive light, and even discusses the fact that when faced with parents who want their child to stop flapping, or shredding paper, or spinning, will usually say no to being involved in stopping them. This is another plus point of the book and has been a point sorely missed in a number of the books I have reviewed so far.
The section on IEPs is also good, and an area where both many parents and staff I know could take advice from. General targets for IEPs are not usually helpful, and having more streamlined and specific targets are often more useful and provide a clear way for school and home to work together.
Overall, many of the sections – and they cover quite a broad range – have some good advice in them and there is an overall view of acceptance and flexibility towards the autistic child.
On the other hand, there are some quite rigid views about autism expressed by the author themselves:
Your child with autism may be intelligent but rest assured, this is going to be rigid intelligence and will usually lack a fundamental comprehension of what they have read or a flexible inability to use their number skills. Can we change this? No.
Or, you know, maybe that isn’t always the case. Because each autistic person is different.
Many people with ASD end up on the wrong side of the law.
Many would suggest (to me) more than half, and I’m not sure how true that statement is. It would have been better to say that because of misunderstandings of autism, autistic people can encounter difficulties with law enforcement (incidentally, a very good book on this topic is: Dangerous Encounters – Avoiding Perilous Situations with Autism, which is nowhere near as scare-mongering as it sounds).
And there’s also a bit of a misunderstanding about PECS:
I don’t believe PECS works without your child having full time one to one and having a very individual timetable, often away from peers and lessons, that allow him to use his PECS for basic communication exchanges. Generalising PECS into the classroom is hard for ASD pupils.
I bring up this passage because Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) are a special interest of mine – which comes in very useful for my job. My particular area of expertise where I work is PECS, and it annoys me when I read books and see things written online where people dismiss PECS or other forms of AAC when they clearly don’t use them to their full potential and flexibility. Every single child I have worked with who uses PECS has used them throughout the day, with adults and peers, within the mainstream classrooms, and to great communicative effect. I could write about this for a long time so I will move on before I get sidetracked.
There is a second book in this series coming (according to the end of the book), and if it is on Kindle Unlimited then I will read it. I think that perhaps combining the books together to make a longer, more detailed book might have been a better idea, but there are some things worth reading in here.
Is it worth reading? If you already have Kindle Unlimited then sure, borrow it, read it (it’ll take you less than an hour). I don’t know how much it costs out of Kindle Unlimited but is it’s much more that £0.99 you might want to give it a pass.