Autistic Logistics – Kate Wilde
This book is written by the current Director of the Son-Rise Program and she has been involved with the Son-Rise Program for much of her adult life. I was very uncertain if I would get anything out of this book going into it because I do have some significant issues with the Son-Rise program, particularly the programs aversion to the use of AAC which was outlined in the Son-Rise book by Raun Kaufman.
Still, attempting to read without bias was my aim going into this blog, and there were sections of the book that I got something out of or felt were valuable pieces of information or advice. One big component throughout the whole book that I did especially like was what Wilde termed “The Son-Rise Program Control Protocol” and I just call being a decent human being. This was the looking for permission from, and accepting the “No” of autistic children. Of course this doesn’t apply to all situations – because there will be times when you cannot accept a child’s “No”, but far too often autistic children are not allowed to refuse to do something.
If we use this protocol in all our interactions with our children we will be giving our children the control they need. In turn you will find that they will become more flexible and less controlling. It has three simple steps:
Step 1 – Position yourself in front of your child
Step 2 – Give an explanation
Step 3 – Look for permission (Then react appropriately)
The book goes greatly in depth with different examples and descriptions and explanations – but to simplify what it’s saying is that if a child knows that their “No” is going to be accepted and honoured, often they will be more likely to try out new experiences because they can trust the person working with them. No in this context doesn’t necessarily mean “Never”, it just means “Not now”, and so the whole approach is that the adult is appropriately persistent but also respectful.
Now I’m not saying I agree with the whole thing, because I don’t. For a start Wilde is very big on the whole “your children understand everything you say” and as a result advocates using a lot of language when talking to autistic children, such as three or four sentence long explanations in one go. I struggle to remember long multi-faceted explanations and I especially had difficulty when I was younger, so I would imagine some other autistic children will as well. What I do agree with though is respecting autistic children and allowing them to say no when it is appropriate – it’s not something groundbreaking really but it is often forgotten.
The book then proceeds to give advice and suggestions for a wide range of areas that might have importance for parents of autistic children including: motivation, self help skills, toileting, hitting, and sleeping. There is a lack of information on communication – which considering the negative views on anything but speech in other Son-Rise books, is probably for the best. Wilde does offer a lot of good advice and suggestions for how to approach each of the areas chaptered in her book, there are some very creative suggestions and it doesn’t hurt to have more ideas to use in the future.
The four major reasons our children hit are the following:
- They are trying to communicate something through their hitting (…)
- They want to see our reaction to their hitting (…)
- They have sensory challenges where hitting, biting, and pinching is actually helping them regulate their sensory system.
- They are trying to protect themselves. For some of our children they may feel that this is the only way to get some of the people their lives to stop and listen to them.
There are a number of things in the book I do not agree with – things that have shown up throughout other Son-Rise books – such as the lack of distinction between tantrums and meltdowns. I think this is a vital area of distinction, and with the increased knowledge about sensory processing as a part of autism this should be a distinction made more often. Another area I have issue with is the huge value placed on different diets for autistic people; yes they help some people but empirical evidence shows they are far from the overarching factor that is suggested in this book. Additionally, Wilde argues that no autistic child will ever allow themselves to starve, despite other professionals reporting that they have witnessed cases of autistic children needing to be tube fed to avoid starving to death. Lastly is the ever present preoccupation with eye-contact and an over-valuing of it’s importance.
Is it worth reading?
If you ignore all that things that are iffy (see the final paragraph above) then yes – you can get quite a bit out of this book. There are good ideas for helping take the fear out of new situations, and a bit emphasis on respecting the child’s voice which is great. Just don’t take everything it says as truth.