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Finding Your Child's Way on the Autism Spectrum: Discovering Unique Strengths, Mastering Behavior Challenges
Moody Publishers / 2009 / Paperback
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Finding Your Child's Way on the Autism Spectrum is a guide for parents struggling to communicate and manage behavioral challenges with their autistic child. Dr. Laura Hendrickson, a psychiatrist and biblical counselor, is the mother of a grown son who recovered from autism. She offers compassionate, practical advice on raising your child into adulthood and helping him function as the person God created him to be. Paperback.
It seems that nearly everyone knows a family with an autism spectrum child. Most recent figures suggest that the prevalence of all autism spectrum disorders in the United States is an astonishing 1% of the population in the United States, translating to twelve million parents and grandparents that are seeking answers.
There are many books available on how to cure an autistic preschooler, but none on how to raise one to adulthood. These promised cures raise parents' hopes, but most parents will find that they are dealing with a lifelong challenge no matter what they do. Dr. Laura Hendrickson is a trained psychiatrist, biblical counselor--and the mother of an autistic child. She understands the struggles parents face as they try to communicate with their autism spectrum child and manage behavior challenges.
With an approach that is grounded in a deep understanding of the challenges those caring for autism spectrum children face, Finding Your Child's Way on the Autism Spectrum gives the reader sound, practical tools for understanding how to guide an autism spectrum child to function more fully as the person God created them to be.
DR. LAURA HENDRICKSON (MD, Michigan State University College of Human Medicine; Diplomate, American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology) is a biblical counselor, former psychiatrist, and the mother of an adult son who has recovered from autism. She is a member of the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors and is author of Finding Your Child's Way on the Autism Spectrum, Will Medicine Stop the Pain? and co-author of When Good Kids Make Bad Choices. She lives in Southern California with her husband, Daniel.
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Author: Dr. Laura Hendrickson
Located in: San Diego, CA
Submitted: March 27, 2009
Tell us a little about yourself. I'm an autism spectrum mom. Although I'm also trained as a psychiatrist, I didn't write the book as an autism treatment professional, but as a parent. It's not a treatment manual, nor is it an exhaustive resource on the various available treatments for autism. There are many excellent books like this already available, and I hope that interested parents will consult them to learn more about what their options are. Because my book is about my son's journey as well as my own, I'd like to tell you a little about him, too. Eric was very severely autistic at age 3. He was mute, didn't understand what we were saying, and had self-injurious stims. The doctors told us that he was retarded. But at age 17 he was his high school valedictorian, and today he's an honor student at a very competitive university. I do assume that youll want to know how he got from where he began to where he is today, and so I do tell quite a bit about how he developed in the book, but this is not my main purpose in telling his story.
What was your motivation behind this project? I wrote Finding Your Child's Way on the Autism Spectrum because I want you to know that every parent, grandparent, family member, and Sunday school teacher can make a difference in the life of an autism spectrum child by better understanding what I call his "way." I hope that as you read about Eric's life (told with his generous permission), you'll begin to see how you can discover your own child's unique way. Although I started on my autism journey with professional qualifications that you probably don't have, I believe that any parent or nonprofessional helper can learn to do the same things that I did.
What do you hope folks will gain from this project? I didn't write Finding Your Childs Way on the Autism Spectrum to show you the one and only guaranteed method for producing improvement in your child. In fact, I don't believe that there is any one and only guaranteed method! But I do believe that, whatever your child's challenges may be, you can help him achieve the potential that God has placed in him. My book isnt intended to replace any treatment or educational approach you may choose. Rather, it's intended to supplement it. As your child comes home every day from school or early intervention, what can you do to help him grow in areas of function that are important to you, especially at home? This is the kind of question that it answers. I believe that Finding Your Childs Way on the Autism Spectrum offers real hope to parents and loved ones of spectrum kids. God created each and every child, including our spectrum kids, for a purpose. Our job as parents is to work with our children's differences instead of against them, to help them develop into the unique adults that God had in mind when He created them. If we see our role in this way, instead of focusing on "remediating deficits," the focus of our hope will also begin to change. Instead of hoping that our child will become as much like a typical kid as possible, well begin to see him as unique and precious just the way he is, even if he never becomes class valedictorian or a college honor student. Every child can learn, even those who turn out to have very limited potential, and every parent, grandparent, family member, and Sunday school teacher can be a part of helping him grow to be everything hes capable of becoming.
How were you personally impacted by working on this project? I grew so much in my understanding of my own journey, and of the gracious providence of God as He led me step by step in Eric's way, as I told our story for others! I thought that I'd learned all the lessons God had for me while I was raising Eric, but I learned many more as I sought to tell our story in the most helpful way possible for parents who are still on their own journeys.
Who are your influences, sources of inspiration or favorite authors / artists? I've been so inspired by the lives of autism spectrum adults like Dr. Temple Grandin, Stephen Wiltshire, and Jonathan Priebe, all of whom I introduce to my readers in Finding Your Child's Way on the Autism Spectrum. Their childhood differences have become strengths that are the foundation of their professional adult identities, as a result of the committed nurture of parents and professionals who helped them on their way. When Eric was a child, I prayed that we would discover that he had a strength like theirs, and God answered my prayers. I believe that Eric's sensitive hearing as a nonverbal autistic preschooler and his fascination with learning our language are the foundation for his adult interest in the field of linguistics, and his amazing ability to learn other languages!
Anything else you'd like readers / listeners to know: I didnt write Finding Your Childs Way on the Autism Spectrum as a celebration of my own brilliant parenting, but as an honest expression of the things I struggled with, and especially my failures as I sought to walk with Eric in his way. I hope that this will encourage parents, because I know how hard we can be on ourselves. We think that we're the only ones struggling. We worry that our children won't make enough progress and it will be our fault. So I hope that hearing me speak honestly about my own failures will enable you to be easier on yourself. I didnt do it perfectly either, and God was still faithful to use my faltering efforts in Erics life. My prayer is that Finding Your Childs Way on the Autism Spectrum will be a blessing to many parents and loved ones of spectrum kids, regardless of their circumstances. May you be strengthened and encouraged as you walk with your precious child in his own unique way!
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