FINDING YOUR CHILD’S WAY ON THE AUTISM SPECTRUM: Discovering Unique Strengths, Mastering Behavior Challenges
Dr. Laura Hendrickson
Dr. Laura Hendrickson, a biblical counselor and former psychiatrist, has composed an excellent resource for assisting parents to learn how to best raise their child given any challenges he or she might have on the autism spectrum. Hendrickson, herself the mother to a now adult son with autism, writes with a genuineness that cannot be lightly dismissed. Every mother's (and father's) heart will be torn right alongside Hendrickson’s as she tells of getting that first diagnosis when Eric was three years old.
As a physician and an attentive mom, Hendrickson knew something was wrong when she would take Eric and their family dog to the beach on daily jaunts and it was her son who would be sitting alone, contentedly, far away from the water's edge (and noise) while their dog fearlessly ran the beach. Recounting those earlier memories, Hendrickson explains how she now understands that Eric couldn't handle the loud crashing of the waves, and he would cry alarmingly or alternately sit and stare vacantly.
Interestingly, it was the childhood film Dumbo that put a vision of what Eric could achieve in his mom's heart. She recalls saying to the Lord soon after the diagnosis, "Lord, I believe that You can do anything. Please make Eric soar." In line with the story itself, Eric "tripped" up a lot in the growing up years, but eventually he did soar. Hendrickson can help you help your child soar as well.
Threaded throughout this text, Hendrickson weaves Eric's story and her own, thus personalizing every challenge they overcame and making it "real" to other parents who are struggling to maintain a hopeful attitude in the home, despite the circumstances. Parents will appreciate her firm conviction that God doesn't make mistakes and that, despite what the media might suggest, every child is born with a purpose no matter how "disabled" or "dysfunctional" they might appear to outsiders. Readers will become educated on the various testing involved in diagnosing autism and Asperger's syndrome, what types of treatments are available, a comprehensive glossary of terms, how to deal with the emotional trials (of the child and the parent), and how to appeal to the child's heart and educate his or her mind.
Especially helpful is the chapter titled "Stims, Rituals, and Obsessions," in which Hendrickson discusses the whys and wherefores of children and teens with autism. Eric's stim (self-stimulation) was to pick at his face until it left scars. Somehow, for autistic kids, such stims make them feel better and these habits help to relieve anxiety, frustration and boredom. Though difficult to break, Hendrickson explains how mothers and fathers can help their child to stop. And she reminds parents that non-autistic people have habits, too, such as drumming fingers on a tabletop or twirling one's hair around a finger. Kids with autism simply take these behaviors further than "typical" children.
From infancy to adulthood, FINDING YOUR CHILD’S WAY ON THE AUTISM SPECTRUM will be sound advice and a close companion to moms and dads of children on the autism spectrum. Families across the country will be encouraged and fortified after reading this timely, carefully researched and user-friendly book.
--- Reviewed by Michele Howe
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