HOW does a child with classic autism develop into an independent adult?
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" Autism-Believe in the Future, from Infancy to Independence " is a positive comprehensive springboard to help everyone recognize the importance of meeting the unique needs and learning styles required for a person with autism to become a productive part of society. They cannot do it alone! I share with the reader HOW education, therapies, and socialization worked for our daughter during childhood, HOW we tackled adulthood, and HOW we survived as a family.
We never knew if Robin could develop beyond what we saw at infancy. Our first goal was simple-we just wanted to stop the wild screaming, rocking, and self-injurious behaviors.
Determined, we made a commitment, as long as she's progressing, regardless how slow, we'd keep pushing her forward. With this attitude, we began to recognize light bulb moments that stood out from her unusual behaviors. As an example, she would scream louder and harder when placed in “time out” for behavior safety (usually running). Robin wanted what she wanted, and she did not want confinement behind a baby gate at her bedroom doorway. Actually, getting mad was a positive thing for us. At least she was showing some sort of awareness, even if she was anger. During this same time period, we also began to realize that some days were actually worse than other days. We kept asking ourselves, why?
It wasn't until Robin was ten years old that we finally found forward-thinking professionals to help us help Robin. In addition to quality education and therapies, they emphasized self-image and socialization. Our family became Robin's case managers, and these professionals encouraged and directed Robin's program through her remaining school years.
At Twenty-two years old, Robin's language was minimal and she was appropriate in public most of the time, with our family as her guide. We felt very successful, and we assumed Robin had reached her potential. My husband, Bob, retired and we moved to Florida as a three-some. This transition for Robin wasn't easy, and we watched, in disbelief, as she slowly regressed. Staying positive as her case managers, she joined a social group for challenged adults and became a bagger at our local grocery store.
At 28 years old, Robin started biological interventions, with three hours of Language Therapy a week, including many of the recent technology-based programs. Within two years she was on her way to independence in adulthood. She was promoted to cashier, driving her own car, moving into her own condominium, and developing an active social life in her community. Four years ago, she started a second job as an assistant membership receptionist at our local YMCA. She's had a boyfriend over two years. She continues to amaze us, now 40 years old.
Parents today must believe in the future for all of their children. Do not let anyone tell you that your child with autism will not be employed and a part of their community. Teaching everyday life lessons that include responsibility, assertiveness, friendship, AND academics are critical. We cannot continually excuse inappropriate behaviors in individuals with autism. Inappropriate behaviors are unacceptable in society and limit a person's independence. Every school IEP (Individual Education Plan) must have employment, community socialization and self-image as a goal, along with therapies and academics, starting at or before ten years old, not at sixteen years old. Yes, I know it's difficult but the reward far outweighs the alternatives.
I hope the reader of this book will be energized by our family's autism roadmap, and your successful autism journey will not be as long!
In "Autism-Believe in the Future, from infancy to independence," Robin's unique needs and learning style are addressed to show the reader the importance of each intervention for autism. Chapters can be read separate of each other; however, the full impact of Robin's autism journey is interrelated and can only be truly appreciated as a whole. She needed it all.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Foreword: LorRainne Jones, MA, CCC-SLP, Ph.D.
Part I: Robin's Experience
Chapter 1: Robin in a Capsule
Part II: Embracing the Many Modes of Treatment
Chapter 2: Diet, Vitamins and Supplements
Chapter 3: Occupational Therapy Sensory Integration (OT/SI)
Chapter 4: Speech and Language Therapy
Chapter 5: Behavior Interventions
Chapter 6: Socialization and Self-Image
Chapter 7: Education
Part III: Transitioning to Independent Adulthood
Chapter 8: Employment
Chapter 9: Community Inclusion-Self-Determination
Chapter 10: Moving Out: Independent Living
Part IV: Supporting Robin
Chapter 11: Our Experience as Parents
Chapter 12: Robin's Siblings
Chapter 13: Building our Plan: A Recipe for Success
Chapter 14: Finding Support Groups
Chapter 15: Managing Financial Costs
Appendix A: How to Start an Autism Treatment Plan
Appendix B: References and Web Sites