Monday, December 30, 2013

Essential First Steps for Parents of Children with Autism Review

Woodbine House sent me a review copy of Essental First Steps for Parents of Children with Autism by Lara Delmolino, Ph.D., BCBA-D & Sandra L. Harris, Ph.D.

Disclaimer: I was given the book at no charge to me. I am not obligated to provide a positive opinion.

Essential First Steps is written for parents of toddlers through kindergartners with a recent autism diagnosis. It's a good size to slip into your purse or diaper bag to read in a waiting room (parents of kids on the autism spectrum tend to spend a lot of time in waiting rooms), a soft cover of 152 pages. Priced at $21.95, at the time I am writing this post, the book is on sale for $12.71 via Woodbine House.

Essential First Steps gives readers ten chapters, with each chapter beginning with a relatable vignette about a family.

Chapter 1 describes and defines autism and terms related to diagnosis and treatment.

Chapter 2 is a very basic intro to ABA. 

Personal sidebar: ABA is one of the interventions I wish we had not done.

Chapter 3 is a cheerleading section for ABA. 

Personal sidebar:  I'll have to admit, ABA worked. Yes, my child did learn everything we taught her in ABA. However, we checked off skills from the ABLLS one by one as if the things we were teaching were discreet skills and not part of a continuous process model; for example, we taught her pointing as if it were merely a mand and not a huge expression of joint attention. We created the robotic, prompt dependent child they promised would not happen and we left her with a bizarre set of splinter skills with no foundations because none of our behaviorists (we had five or six in three years) understood development.

Chapter 4 is about early intervention and school, IEPs (and ABA).

Chapter 5 is about helping your child relate to others, ABA style.

Personal sidebar: Developmental approaches worked far better than behavioral approaches in terms of social reciprocity and joint attention at my house.

Chapter 6 is about verbal communication.

Personal sidebar: There is heavy emphasis on manding, or requesting. From page 88, "Of course, children with ASD eventually need to learn words for things they are not requesting, but this type of language instruction is a secondary priority at the early stages of teaching."  I strongly disagree with this philosophy based on our experience with it. A developmental approach beginning with non-verbal interaction is better in my experience.

Chapter 7 covers play from a behavioral perspective. See my sidebars above.

Chapter 8 covers self-help skills toward independence.

Chapter 9 is about sensory and behavior challenges.

Chapter 10 reminds parents where to look for support.

Essential First Steps is a basic introduction to behavioral intervention and parents new to the diagnosis who are interested in behavioral intervention may find the guide helpful.

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