For more than 30 years, I’ve been researching autism.
It all started, when my son, at the age of 2 and a half, was diagnosed (no, not with autism but) with (using the terminology of the time) severe mental retardation and schizophrenia. To say that I disagreed with this ‘verdict’ is not saying much. After that day, I turned my life around (or, started my “second life”) by learning about autism and working with autistic children, adolescents and adults. So, my interest in the subject is not only professional – it’s personal.
All my findings are reflected in the books I’ve written, which are research-based, with references and theoretical information, i.e., written by a professional.
However, a few years ago, I decided to write a book as a mother of an autistic child and at the same time sharing my knowledge as a professional – you can call it a sort of ‘university for parents’. The first part of this series (“Exploring the Sensory World of Autism”) covers a range of sensory perceptual issues, provides ideas and tips (how to help the child) and will help those who live with and/or work with autistic children. I have used examples from my own life and combined it with research to be able to give parents the know-how and relevant knowledge when it comes to sensory issues.
The idea's come from my presentations at the conferences, training sessions in schools - where I always illustrate 'theoretical points' with examples from my life with my (autistic) children, my experience of working with autistic children, teenagers and adults.
The book is also about my personal development as a mother of an autistic child – from a confused and helpless parent to a ‘professional one’. Perhaps the reader will find similarities and how the stories (in the first part of each chapter) relate to their own children or the children they know. Hopefully, they will find solutions to some problems (though these will bring more questions that will need answers – learning about autism never stops).
The emphasis is on the importance of understanding not just what they do and what we can do to help but also providing the explanations of each and every phenomenon (complex subjects explained in simple language). Only knowing what (and why) is going on, can we be sure to find the right solutions.
Sharing my personal experiences (as a mother) with my son and (as a professional) with my students with ASD, I take each of sensory phenomena and show how the ‘symptoms’ can be explained and what can be done to make the world comfortable for these very special children – thus, providing new ways to understand the sensory world of autism.
Oh, the book will be of interest not only to parents of children with autism, but also teachers, social workers and other specialists working with autistic individuals – they will benefit from learning about the parents’ experiences, problems and inspirations, and will benefit from the tips and suggestions to try in the classroom, respite care, etc. Besides, those who want to know more about autism because they are interested in this condition or have friends who have a child with autism and want to understand and support them will also find many insights that shed light on what their friends experience in their everyday life.
There are 12 chapters in the book. Each chapter is in two parts:
A personal story, illustrating one or two sensory problems, that are common in autism
Explanation of these phenomena, practical implications and ‘what and how to do’ sections:
Notes in the Margin: explanation and additional information
There is always a ‘but’: what else should be also taken into account
Do’s and Don’t’s: Practical advice and tips (what can be done to help the child/ what should be avoided)
Pause for Thought: Another personal story or an essay/blog to make the reader reflect on their own experiences.
This book has been published in Romanian, Italian, Macedonian, Russian, Hungarian.
And now it’s out in the original – in English.