April is Autism Awareness Month! As there are so many “puzzle pieces” to the Autism Spectrum, books have been a very successful and positive resource for helping family members learn about their changing lives, children understand autism and providing education to those wanting to learn more.
The books below can help you make a connection to your own life and lead to a positive outcome of either helping your own child, yourself or others around you. Check them out!
Look Me in the Eye - John Elder Robinson
John Elder Robinson was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome in his 40’s. He uses this book to discuss the struggles he faced as a child, into adulthood, and the struggles he faces after diagnosis. This book focuses on the difficulty he had to create relationships and interact socially. It provides readers with an idea of how treatment has evolved over the years and the many different approaches that have been used to assist individuals on the spectrum. John is a standing testament of how facing challenges and learning to adapt using different strategies can lead to great success.
A Different Kind of Boy - Dan Mont
This book is written by the father of a boy who is autistic. He writes about the positive and negative emotions he has experienced through raising a child on the spectrum. Dan also dives into the impact autism has on his family and challenges with navigating the educational system.
Thinking in Pictures - Dr. Temple Grandin
Temple Grandin does an excellent job showing the evolution of treatment and medical professionals throughout the years. She reviews her life’s struggles and how the treatment she received as a child would be different than treatment available today.
In a Different Key: The Story of Autism - John Donvan & Caren Zucker
This book tells the story of autism from the first ever diagnosis to modern day. Focus is placed primarily on its controversies and struggles that families face. This is a great read thats main point made is “difference rather than disability.”
The Survival Guide for Kids with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (and their parents)
This is an informative and highly positive book that offers kids on the spectrum knowledge for understanding their diagnosis and finding strategies to help them cope in their own individual way. This book is a 5th grade reading level and is targeted toward children ages 9-13.
The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin - Julia Finley Mosca, Daniel Rieley (Illustrations)
This picture book tell children the amazing story of Temple Grandin’s life. Her love for animals and how she relates her diagnosis is a significant piece of this story. Your child will learn about scientists and their unique lives and characteristics.
We’re Amazing 1 2 3: A Story About Friendship and Autism
This Big Golden Book uses Sesame Street characters to teach children about being a friend to everyone, despite their differences. Sesame Street introduces Julia, a character with autism. Elmo introduces Julia to friends and explains how to be a friend to those who cannot speak and who may do things a little differently!
Everybody is Different - Fiona Bleach
This book is written for siblings of children on the spectrum. This is a concept that is often looked over so this book allows for brothers and sisters to learn basic terms, characteristics of autism and provides suggestions for making family life more positive for all.
Rachel Petersen is a licensed speech-language pathologist with Aspire.
April is OT month and occupational therapists around the US are rejoicing. Finally, a month to bring attention to our amazing profession! Finally, a month for us to bring light to what we can help others do! Finally, a month to self-reflect on what it is that we actually do so that we can accurately describe our job in 10 words or less... After close to 15 years of being an OT, I still stumble when explaining what I do on a daily basis.
Occupations are activities and roles that bring meaning to your life. A child’s occupations include play, play, and more play. When a child is old enough, occupations might also include student, athlete, musician, and hobbyist. Occupational therapists assist kids and families in building the skills needed and modifying the environment for a child to be successful in his/her occupations.
A child learns first and foremost through play -- it is the window into their world. Pediatric OTs start here to build relationships with a child and to help build the needed social, motor, behavioral, and neurological skills to be able to play.
We assist kids and families by improving and working with a child’s sensory processing system to help him be able to tolerate the world around them. We help to improve vestibular processing so that her world stops spinning, auditory processing so that everything isn’t too loud for him, and proprioceptive processing so that she doesn’t use too much force when interacting with her friends.
Occupational therapists also work closely with kids and their families to help improve mealtime and other daily living skills. Whether it be a picky eater, a child who over-stuffs, or has difficulty simply sitting at the dinner table, we can help. We can work with kids to increase independence with dressing, bathing, brushing teeth, combing hair, and even toilet training!
Once the foundational skills of play, daily living, and basic self-regulation skills are achieved, occupational therapists can also help with more complex skill development. OTs can help with handwriting, fine motor skills (cutting, coloring, gluing), visual motor skills (puzzles, tying shoes, stacking blocks), organizing homework and locker spaces, even driving (although we at Aspire haven’t been trained in this just yet).
Our occupational therapists work with each individual child and family to assess where your child is at. We discuss what areas of difficulty we might be able to assist with. We work together to help improve your child’s and whole family’s ability to function.
If you think your child and your family might benefit from working with one of our occupational therapists, please contact Aspire for a free consultation today!
Laura McBain is a licensed Occupational Therapist and member of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA).