The “Thinking Persons Guide to Autism” (TPGA) edited by Shannon Des Roches Rosa, Jennifer Byde Myers, Liz Ditz, Emily Willingham, and Carol Greenburg is more than a book. It is the Autism Constitution!! I suggest the following preamble be inserted at the beginning of the book:
We the People of the United States of Autism, in Order to impart knowledge, establish Justice, insure acceptance, provide for the common understanding, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty for All, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of Autism.
TPGA is more than a book because it is a collection of approximately 70 articles arranged into 12 Chapters written by many different voices. There are 55 editors and contributors to TPGA. Having that many different voices in one book can sometimes muddy the water but what the editors have done is quite amazing. The articles chosen compliment and build on prior articles. They are arranged in a manner to both educate and comfort. No matter where you are in the process, newly diagnosed or savvy veteran you will find articles that you can relate to and others that will inform and educate you.
Although my son has many special needs he doesn’t have an autism diagnosis. He does however have many of the same speech, sensory, OT, socialization & learning tendencies as children diagnosed with Autism. My life experiences, raising my son and working as a Special Education Advocate, mimicked many of the articles in TPGA and had me more than once screaming to my husband to come read a passage in the book. The articles that grabbed me the most were:
- Feeding Issues and Picky Eaters by Judy McCrary Koeppen M.S., CCC-SLP;
- Sensory Seekers and Sensory Avoiders by Hartley Steiner;
- Adolescence by Laura Shumaker;
- All seven articles in Chapter Four regarding Therapies and Service Providers;
- Writing Effective IEP Goals and Objectives by Daniel Dage;
- What is an Appropriate Education for Autistic Children? By Katherine Beals, Ph.D.; and
- Creating a Special Education PTA
I am very confident that every Person that reads TPGA, based on their life experiences, will have a different list of favorite articles. I found myself actually laughing out loud as I read the article Adolescence by Laura Shumaker. Although my son hasn’t hit puberty YET, its close and I know it’s coming. Adolescence gave me a small glimpse into my short term future!
My only caveat to an otherwise amazing book has to do with the article Special Education 101. I found there to be a few mistakes in that particular article the biggest of which is how Special Education was defined. That article implied that Special Education was for children who cannot be educated in a “regular” classroom. Special Education is not a place but rather, it is specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability. Special Education can happen in any environment and very often does happen in a regular classroom.
Besides the many articles covering diverse subject matter the editors of TPGA have also included a chapter dedicated to resources. The resource list was compiled with amazing detail and covers books, movies, blogs and online resources. At this point I should mention that Special Education Advisor was one of the resources listed and that we are very grateful to be included in such a wonderful book.
I highly recommend the Thinking Persons Guide to Autism to any parent or professional raising or working with children with special needs. As I mentioned the book transcends Autism and covers important topics no matter what your child’s diagnosis. Go out and buy this book today.
Hard Copy Edition