I’ve read a bunch of books on autism, and a clear favorite has now emerged: the 128-page Grandparent’s Guide to Autism Spectrum Disorders by Nancy Mucklow. My thought is that everyone – autism families, autism friends, autism professionals, the general public – can benefit greatly from this easy-to-read, easy-to-apply-to-your-own-life guide.
I love the book’s upbeat, encouraging, hope-filled tone – a tone that permeates even the book’s attention to the most challenging and disheartening aspects of autism. And I love the book’s theme of practicality – the constant message that problems and challenges can’t always be solved right now: “Sometimes the right thing to do is to just let it go,” and “Some issues can wait for another day.”
Susan J. Moreno, CEO and founder, OASIS@MAAP says this: “This is a must-read for grandparents, their children, and all teachers, counselors and support staff who work with individuals on the autism spectrum. All levels of functioning and a cornucopia of circumstances are addressed.”
A challenge for any book on autism is how to organize it. Nancy Mucklow has organized this book in a wonderfully engaging and readable manner. There are nine chapters, but the book’s organizational brilliance is in its four categories of materials that are sprinkled throughout.
One category is short autism stories that illustrate certain areas. For example, the book’s first page tells how three-year-old Leisa’s grandparents reacted to Leisa’s diagnosis and began their interaction with her.
Another category is called “Quick Tips,” such as “Quick Tips for Dealing with a Meltdown.” I’ve found every Quick Tip in the book not only helpful, but also revealing of the author’s deep understanding and personal experience. (She’s an autism grandparent herself.)
A third category isn’t named, but I’ll call it “Boxed Information.” Sprinkled in appropriate places throughout the book are boxes containing special information with titles such as, “How to Respond to Friends who say ‘What’s Wrong with Him?’” or “What If You Don’t Agree With What the Parents Are Doing.” I love some of the guidance in this specific box, such as, “Remember that the parents are doing this for the first time too, so your support will be much appreciated,” and “Your job is to support their decisions and make the child’s life as calm and happy as possible.”
And the fourth category is one that I simply call “Charts.” For example, there is an annotated chart that lists all of the senses (taste, touch, vision, etc.) and lists the various ways that a child with ASD may either seek or avoid each sense. Another example is a chart that’s titled, “Common Communication Challenges In Children With ASD,” that lists and describes the causes and emanations of those challenges.
I’ve found a great way to enhance the book’s benefit to me. I’ve highlighted everything that relates to my situation. For example, Angelina doesn’t have depression or pessimism, so the part of the book that deals with that isn’t highlighted. But the book’s box entitled, “The Ten-Minute Tidy-Up,” is highlighted.
And finally, the book offers an analogy that can possibly be beneficial for everyone’s overall understanding of autism: autism is a cat living in a dog’s world. (At least for everyone who is familiar with the ways that dogs and cats see and relate to the world.)