Healing High Fives
In this issue of Healing Magazine, we are publishing reviews of two of our favorite books. At Healing, we’re always looking for new resources and information that would be useful to those who care for, treat and teach kids. If you have a suggestion, please send it to:
Mail: Healing Magazine
4085 Independence Drive
Schnecksville, PA 18078-2574
Ten Things Your Student with Autism Wishes You Knew
By Ellen Notbohm
Ellen Notbohm has an amazing gift for explaining the most complicated aspects of interacting with autistic children in simple language that resonates with truth, clarity and enlightenment. This book is written in the voice of a child and is for all those who teach autistic children in the classroom, in the home and in other areas of their lives. Notbohm explains that autistic children think in concrete terms and are visual learners – they don’t understand questions like “do you have ants in your pants?” to mean anything other that the questioner thinks that there may be insects in their trousers.
Notbohm stresses that it takes a team effort to teach an autistic child, including the classroom teacher, speech and occupational therapists, para-educators who help the child in the classroom and, most importantly, the family. Communication is imperative on a daily basis. There are teachers who refuse to make any accommodations for different learning needs, and this is unfortunate not only for the autistic child but for all children in the class and the teacher as well. Notbohm compares autistic children to other children in their classes as PCs and MACs – neither is “wrong,” they are merely wired differently, and being able to operate one does not guarantee one’s ability to operate the other. She points out that teachers and parents should approach each other with blank slates at the beginning of the school year and open lines of communication with positive expectations and cooperative attitudes.
Most children with an autism spectrum disorder find it difficult to multi-task and may also have difficulty categorizing or comprehending cause and effect. She explains to teachers that trust is the foundation of learning for a child with ASD, and it is important to always remember that they have feelings that can be hurt as badly as any other child’s by a mean comment or mocking attitude. She also encourages teachers to cultivate curiosity, sometimes using the areas in which the child has an interest, even if it is not part of the general curriculum. Ultimately, teachers and families want the same thing for children with ASD: For them to move forward, become independent and gain self-sufficiency. – PS
Jessica Kingsley Publishers
116 Pentonville Road
London, N1 0JB, UK and
400 Market Street, Suite 400
Philadelphia, PA 19106
A Relentless Hope: Surviving the storm of teen depression
By Gary E. Nelson
Gary Nelson chronicles his son’s fight against depression and how they joined together as a family to bring Tom back. Gary is a minister turned pastoral counselor who provides interfaith counseling to youth with problems very much like his son’s, which makes he situation even more poignant as one reads about Tom’s slide downward into a depression that nearly took the young man’s life. Gary wrote this wonderful book for teens, parents, teachers, counselors and pastors in hopes of teaching them the signs and how to help them bring other youth from the brink of deep, deep depression.
Tom had been a normal kid who played baseball very well and had many friends. Around the time he entered high school, he started pulling away from the friends and activities he had previously loved and began feeling “sick” and unable to attend school. He spent more and more time in his room and literally days in bed, and he would have fits of rage during which he would throw things into his walls and ceiling, one day almost shattering his bedroom door. He left the baseball team in anger over criticism by the coach and withdrew from all of his friends. Eventually he came to realize that something was wrong, but he had no control over it. He described it to his parents as “feeling like he was being beaten from the inside.” His sleep patterns changed, he was irritable and angry a lot of the time and was unable to focus on schoolwork, sports or relationships with his friends and family. It was perhaps harder for Gary to watch considering that he was a counselor himself yet unable to reach his own son. Gary also became very concerned that Tom may turn to suicide to stop the pain he was experiencing.
He makes the point that parents need to work “with” their depressed children rather than trying to “fight it” with anger and recriminations. Gary strongly suggests asking your children if you can help them develop a plan for getting through it but not trying to pressure them into feeling better because they have no control over it and feel like greater failures if they cannot meet parent expectations. He also suggests trying to get them into counseling but making sure that you find someone to whom your child can relate and talk. In some cases, medication can help, but that is a big decision that must be made on an individual basis.
Gary and his wife were willing to try some creative and even risky ways of helping Tom fight his depression and accompanying anxiety, allowing him to start working at a young age and getting his GED rather than finishing a high school he just could not make himself attend. They bought him a car and encouraged his interest in music, even heavy metal if it made him feel that someone understood his pain.
There are so many strong and hopeful messages in this book to help families get through a child’s depression in tact, still spending quality time with other children and not allowing this illness to ruin a marriage. Tom is married and doing very well as an adult now, and Gary even describes the wedding that was moved at the last minute due to hurricanes. This wonderful book speaks of faith and love and hope and a family’s decisions to fight to help their child no matter what it took. It is an inspiration and well worth reading if you have any contact youth who are debilitated by depression.
Published 2007 | Cascade Books | A division of Wipf & Stock Publishers | 199 West 8th Avenue | Suite 3 | Eugene, OR 97401 – PS