Saturday, February 23, 2013

Autism in the Family (review)

Autism in the Family, Caring and Coping Together arrived as a surprise from Brookes Publishing. Sometimes they send me new books, and this one is a treat.

The process of acceptance and coping with the challenges and demands of autism alongside the grief that we process as we journey this pathway that is so different from the one we dreamed about when we thought about parenthood can be lonely. We parents are often misunderstood by adults with autism who are functioning at a level where their autism is something positive they see to be embraced and celebrated, when in fact, the autism we see is something negative that holds our kids back. (An aside: I have blogged in the past about my opinion that the two sides are in fact one side who happen to be defining autism differently.) The emotions of being a parent of a child with special needs are a puzzle piece that we parents sometimes overlook or ignore.

Naseef addresses both the emotions and the day-to-day challenges of parenting a child on the autism spectrum in Autism in the Family. The combination is unique, in my opinion. I don't remember encountering this combination in all of the books I have read along the way.

Most of the books I read about caring and coping are written by women. Robert A. Naseef's book is a surprise, not simply because it was an unexpected delivery, but because it comes from a male perspective.

His story touches me, reaches my heart, and I relate to his experience in a way I didn't expect. Naseef is authentic, real, a peer, parent of a child with autism.

Naseef is a psychologist as well as a parent of an adult child with autism, and that makes a difference that is evident. He has insight, empathy, and understanding that many professionals in our journey have not had. (Many of our professionals were not parents. Looking back, that was a problem because they had no experience base to perspective take from my point of view as a parent!)

Naseef gives us advice and insight about our children, but more importantly, about ourselves as parents. He reminds me to include my own reaction to my child's behavior in addressing challenging behavior, something our developmental approach has taught me. I'm better at it some days than others. "If you are spending more time correcting your child than guiding and enjoying him or her, then that may be the signal that it is time to seek help." p. 63, Chapter 5, Understanding and Guiding Your Child's Behavior. 

Naseef writes in detail and honesty about topics that are difficult to talk about, write about, and self-examination toward making changes for the better, for the parent, from the inside out. His book plants seed after seed for my self-reflection and growth, something I did not expect when I opened the book for the first time.

The table of contents:

About the Author
by Cindy Ariel

Prologue: A Letter to My Son
  1. My Story
  2. The Emotional Journey: From Lost Dreams and Chronic Stress to Acceptance
  3. Understanding Autism
  4. Starting Over and Falling in Love Again
  5. Understanding and Guiding Your Child's Behavior
  6. Surfing Your Stress: One Wave at a Time
  7. Parents and Professionals: A Partnership in Child Development
  8. Big Boys Don't Cry: The Secret Life of Men
  9. Ordinary Couples, Challenged Relationships: Another Developmental Process
  10. A Different Perspective: Understanding Siblings
  11. Family and Friends: Finding and Building Circles of Support
  12. Adolescence
  13. Adulthood
  14. Reflections on Peace of Mind and Happiness

I especially like the way he does not ignore challenges and issues that are specific to girls and the autism spectrum.

My one complaint: Naseef is a psychologist, a scientist, and he relies heavily on what science has to say about a cause or a treatment or intervention. While I agree that lots of "snake oil" does exist, there are many therapies and treatments that are safe and that work where the scientific studies lag behind. And I do not believe the science is in, yet, on whether vaccines play a role in autism.

Autism in the Family is a resource I would not have purchased for myself, although it is one that I needed. I'm glad it arrived as a surprise at my front door.

I found an interview with Dr Naseef here, if you'd like to know more about him. An excerpt from a previous book is located here.

Autism In the Family, Caring and Coping Together is available at book stores and online. A 268 page paperback, it is list priced at $24.95.

Disclaimer: Brookes Publishing sent me a free review copy of Autism in the Family, Caring and Coping Together. I am not paid for reviews. The opinions here are my own. I am not obligated to write a positive review.

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