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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Get Out, Explore, and Have Fun!

Lisa Jo Rudy is like Switzerland - neutral.

Unaligned with any faction and without an agenda - a real breath of fresh air.

Sometimes you read the title of a book and cringe inside - 'great concept but how exactly am I supposed to do that?' Lisa Jo fails to give me a glib reply - no, 'how to fix it quick' response, which is precisely why this book is readable, helpful and practical.

Lisa Jo gives us an in-depth and well considered approach to help us change how we think about some of the difficulties we face when it comes to 'getting out and about.' Her 'no nonsense' approach is refreshing and I particularly warmed to the underlying philosophy - yes all autistic children need education and some need therapy, but not to the exclusion of everything else that life has to offer.

So far so good, but how would this book help?

This is where trouble begins. Lisa Jo's son Tom, is one speck on the spectrum, my two sons are different specks, and I expect yours are too. How can book address all these different individuals? We're back to the same stumbling block - the spectrum.

Personally, I have a deep dislike of experts with a 'holier than thou' attitude who hand out edicts from on high for us mere mortals to execute - but don't worry, we are in safe hands.

How can I get my children 'out and about' at their present stage of development? Currently, we're still tackling the basics, eating, dressing, toileting, hand-washing. Although we have 'speech' more frequently, it often abandons us at times of stress. When are they stressed? Every time we go 'out and about.'

So rather than project and guess how it might help you, instead I'll tell you how it has helped me.

Firstly, because I've been busy and out of touch with the real world, Lisa Jo's book made me realize how much attitudes have changed towards children with disabilities How much more accommodating different institutions have become and how to 'exploit' this to benefit my own children.

I particularly liked her check lists, tips and pertinent questions to ask. I'm often tongue tied and or distracted by herding children, so a list of relevant questions that elicit accurate information will put me in a much better position to decide if our chosen activity is a good fit, and hopefully avoid some of the more obvious pitfalls.

Her book is a timely reminder of lots of things that I already knew, but had either forgotten or dismissed as irrelevant - what was irrelevant two years ago is now 'doable.'

Lisa Jo also gave me lots of ideas, but I won't spoil the experience for you of finding out for yourself, but by way of example - my child may be unable to catch a ball but he could easily keep score for a team and so be involved by a different route.

It reminded me to keep trying, no matter how long the list of 'failures.' Indeed, many of our 'failures' might well have been avoided if I'd taken a few tips from Lisa Jo in my initial research.

I liked her approach, her 'out of the box' thinking, encouragement to tailor the activity to the child, their interests and fixations, but also taking account of their individual limitations.

I was interested to read her interview with Donna Williams in her chapter about the visual and performing arts - helpful to parents and students alike.

I was delighted to learn about Autism on the Seas, in her chapter about summer camps and alternatives - sufficiently motivating to make me consider tackling my own seasickness.

This is an inspirational read for me. Anyone who has the ability organize and create their own camp, as Lisa Jo did, deserves my admiration. Her final chapter on 'inclusion' should fire me into action.

Lastly, I leave you with 'one' of my favorite quotes:-

'There's a strange myth out there that people with autism have no emotions.'

What more do you need to know? Hallelujah!

You can find details about the book "here" at "Lisa Jo Rudy", pre-order it from "Amazon" or straight from "JKP"

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