Autism and the Extended Family – a book review


familyAs the rates of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) continue to rise it’s more and more likely that autism will become part of your extended family or move into your neighborhood sometime in the future. If that person turns out to belong to someone you care about, Autism and the Extended Family: A Guide for Those Outside the Immediate Family Who Know and Love Someone with Autism written by Raun D. Melmed, MD and Maria Bird-West Wheeler, is for you.

This book will help anyone gain a better understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorders and how the diagnosis can impact a family member, friend or neighbor. The case examples and cautions throughout the book inform the reader about ‘what to do’ and ‘what not to do’ when it comes to supporting and helping a parent of a child with autism. But as the book emphasizes throughout, the best thing a person can do is to ask how they can be supportive. Every parent’s experience is different so the answer to “What can I do?” will vary from parent to parent.

Autism and the Extended Family covers all the possible individuals that are indirectly affected when a child is diagnosed with autism: grandparents, siblings, stepfamilies, uncles and aunts, cousins, close friends and neighbors. The appendix at the back of the book presents nine activities that can empower extended family members and friends. These topics range from – managing behaviors, communication strategies, reducing stress, resolving conflicts that may surface, helping with the basic self-care skills of toileting and eating, and even guidelines for making an Autism Survival Kit.

The thirty-three case examples that are included in this book are a great addition because they show how diverse the needs of individuals on the spectrum are. They also provide a lot of insight and ideas into the many ways a person can be helpful. This wonderful guidebook could have been titled, “Everything You Need to Know About Being a Relative or a Friend of a Parent Who Has a Child with Autism”.

If you are a parent of a child on the autism spectrum, I would inform everyone in your extended family circle that this book exists. If you do not have a child with autism but there is such a child within your extended family/social circle and autism is still new or somewhat foreign to you, stop wondering what it’s like for ‘that’ parent of ‘that child’ with autism. Take action! Nurture a sincere interest in your family member’s situation and purchase this book. Read all 125 pages and then go forward with a mission to be helpful.

I know many people who claim that autism has not yet come to their family or neighborhood. That may be true but, if so, why wait? Society needs more individuals to understand what autism ‘looks like’, ‘sounds like’, and ‘feels like’. This world needs people who have the knowledge of best strategies to employ when autism appears in their extended family circle and this is ‘the’ guidebook for that.

To get your copy of the book, Autism and the Extended Family, at a discounted rate, simply click here  to get to the Future Horizons website. Then use my code PARENTCOACH in the coupon code box when you check out to receive your 15% discount and enjoy!

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