My Child Has Autism: What Parents Need to Know

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Release Date: 
September 1, 2009
Gryphon House
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My Child Has Autism: What Parents Need to Know attempts to sum up in a single volume answers to the myriad questions that parents with an autistic child might have. The book reads essentially like a compilation of pamphlets you might find in a doctor’s office.

Author Clarissa Willis takes a very broad view, trying to cover a lot of bases in 160 pages. In doing so, she sacrifices any in-depth coverage on any one topic. Parents of children newly diagnosed with autism will undoubtedly purchase numerous volumes on the subject.

If this book is the first one they read, it may overwhelm them. Parents may come away from the book feeling as though they need to become experts in sign language, music therapy, interior design, and behavior therapy, among others. Willis doesn’t make the point strongly enough: When it comes to autism, one size does not fit all. Some parents will recognize their own children in some of the descriptions of behaviors, but the book doesn’t emphasize that autism is a spectrum disorder, with wide variances among symptoms, treatments, and outcomes.

The book is lacking in sentimentality, which is actually refreshing, considering the genre. However, it is also lacking in personalization. In a small nod to the warm and fuzzy, she gives names to hypothetical autistic children in hypothetical situations, yet those scenarios are described in the driest of behaviorist terminology.

The book’s best feature may be the suggested activities at the end of every chapter. Willis breaks down activities into step-by-step instructions along with a list of materials required. Not every activity may be appropriate for every child, but many of them may be modified, or may give parents some ideas of ways they can come up with new activities for their children.

Additionally, each chapter has a list of references where parents can go for more information. Key terms are summed up in a glossary, and there is an index. The volume may prove useful as a reference, but parents are sure to quickly move on to other, more in-depth sources in their search for information about autism.