Parenting

Book review: Raising Resilient Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Amy reviews a new book on autism by Robert Brooks and Sam Goldstein.

Photo courtesy of McGraw-Hill

Ever read a non-fiction book that makes you feel even more loving towards your kid? On the weekend, I planned to flip through a few pages of Raising Resilient Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders by Robert Brooks and Sam Goldstein. But I ended up reading (sometimes skimming) the whole book. And then I ran off to hug Tal.

Here’s what I loved about it: The authors remind us that kids with autism are, most of all, kids. All of them have personalities, temperaments and talents that make them unique. Like all kids, they want to feel good about themselves, so we need to build on our kids’ strengths and to nurture their self-esteem. Most of all, we need to find ways to connect with our kids.

None of this is rocket science. It’s just good parenting. But often, in trying to help our kids, we focus on their challenges. We search for ways to build their fine motor skills or perhaps their social skills, and sometimes we forget to focus on our kids’ passions and abilities. The authors refer to these strengths as “islands of competence.”

Here are a few of the authors’ ideas that resonated for me:

  • We need to understand that our children with autism can’t always control their behaviour. They’re not misbehaving simply to piss us off. (Hmm …the authors’ exact words were way more eloquent!)
  • For our kids to be happy, successful and resilient in life, they must have strong social connections.
  • We need to nurture our own “islands of competence” (outside of our roles as parents.) To have energy for our familiies we need to do things that give us meaning and joy. Absolutely. That’s what my book More than a Mom (with Heather Fawcett) is all about!
  • To raise resilient kids who happen to have autism, we have to teach them in ways that build, not erode, their self-esteem.

While aimed at parents of children with ASD, this book is also helpful for other special needs parents. If you’re drowning in a morass of therapies, interventions and goals, give this book a whirl. Be warned—while the writing is wise, it tends to be repetitive. But hang in. You’ll find concrete ideas for celebrating your kids, for connecting with them and for building their resilience. Chances are—you probably already use some of these strategies intuitively. This book will give you encouragement and a gentle pat on the back.