By Ellen Notbohm
In “Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew: Updated and Expanded Edition,” Ellen Notbohm furthers the discussion about children with autism and offers tips to help adults understand how to relate to them. Her knowledge-packed book was first unveiled in 2004, and this second edition provides even more answers, as well as an appendix with more than 70 questions.
Communication, social skills, sensory processing hurdles and the importance of not defining a child by an autistic label are all discussed in a way to help parents shepherd children with autism into adulthood. She explains that children with autism may act differently but they are not trying to “act out,” and that adults need to be careful how they respond to them lest their anger or frustration set a poor example and lead to more negative behavior.
This book is a resource for parents, teachers or other adults who simply want to better understand the unique needs of children with autism and stop thinking of them as having a disability. Notbohm, whose own sons have ADHD and autism, writes from experience, sharing the importance of being sensitive to the needs of special children and ensuring autism is part of who they are, not the summation. She injects humor into her writing, but implores adults to remember they need to accept the situation and advocate for their children.
Notbohm talks about how she had to learn to get past the pain of watching her son with autism get treated like an outsider.
For some cosmic, not-to-be understood reason, I was blessed with the serenity to bypass the denial and the anger and the self-pity that frequently come unbidden and unwelcome when we learn our child has a so-called disability. That is not to say that I don’t endure my own bouts with melancholy, that I don’t fall prey to what I call the Knife-to-the-Heart moments. There are the times when the rest of the world seems intent on letting you know that your child is different and apart. Often there’s no conscious malice; it happens because the mainstream population is streaming about their business in mainstream fashion, which doesn’t or can’t include your child. Other times the spite is intentional – the offhand child-cruel remark, the birthday party that everyone else is invited to, the snubs on the bus.
Here are the 10 things, which are also Notbohm’s chapter titles:
1. I am a whole child.
2. My senses are out of sync.
3. Distinguish between won’t and can’t.
4. I am a concrete thinker. I interpret language literally.
5. Listen to all the ways I’m trying to communicate.
6. Picture this! I am visually oriented.
7. Focus and build on what I can do rather than what I can’t do.
8. Help me with social interactions.
9. Identify what triggers my meltdowns.
10. Love me unconditionally.
For more information, visit www.ellennotbohm.com
.Published 2012 (first edition in 2004), Future Horizons Inc.