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Review of 'My Child Has Autism' by Clarissa Willis Ph.D.

'My Child Has Autism' by Clarissa Willis

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About Author Clarissa Willis Ph.D.

This book, "My Child Has Autism: What Parents Need to Know" was written by Clarissa Willis, Ph.D. Previous works include numerous journal and magazine articles, as well as five other books. Titles include Teaching Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Inclusive Literacy Lessons. She has spent over 20 years working with families affected by autism in children, currently as an early childhood consultant. She also speaks at numerous national and international conferences. Other experiences as teacher, speech pathologist, and early interventionist helped to shape some of the strategies contained within the book.

An Overview of Autism

The first chapter in My Child Has Autism: What Parents Need to Know by Clarissa Willis, Ph.D. is an overview of autism. It defines the jargon used by the professionals in a clear, easy-to-understand manner. She touches on the entire spectrum, and introduces the common characteristics and treatment options for children with autism. Emphasis is placed on putting the child first, instead of focusing on the autism diagnosis. To do this, parents will need much support as they look for the best treatment options.
Autism and Maladaptive Behaviors

Children with autism often display unusual behaviors, often known as maladaptive behaviors. These actions can be highly frustrating and confusing for parents. Willis outlines the different types and provides a brief explanation of why they occur. She then gives examples of strategies to help ease these behaviors, though they will have to be individualized.

Autism and Communication

Children with autism often have difficulty in communication due to language disorders. Willis explains how these children typically try to communicate, as well as the four traditional steps of communication. She also explains various communication alternatives available. These can include sign language, picture systems, and electronic devices.

Communication skills play into social skills. Parents learn how to find the best school programs for their child and how to assist them when making friends and encouraging play.

Autism and Sensory Integration Disorder

Many children with autism also have Sensory Integration Disorder. This is when children cannot regulate the information they are bringing in through their senses. Willis takes the highlights from the top books and condenses them into one chapter. She debunks common misconceptions and outlines what parents need to know when seeking help.

Strategies to Use with Children with Autism

At the end of each chapter are strategies that parents can implement with their children with autism. Strategies assist with communication, self-regulation, and independence. These will help parents facilitate social interactions at home and in public.
Included strategies can supplement treatment options being implemented by professionals in various interventions and therapies. Unfortunately, the information on these interventions and therapies doesn't go into a lot of detail. However, parents will be able to use this book as a starting point for discussions.

Pros and Cons of the Book

As with any book, My Child Has Autism has pros and cons. People seeking extensive information within the pages are only going to find overviews of different topics. For example, there is a chart that lists the different types of services a child with autism may receive. Each service has a brief definition, but does not go into a great deal of detail. However, with the many resource lists, readers will know where to go for more information. Charts and bulleted lists provide a foundation from which parents can build conversations with the various professionals who will be assisting them on their journey. This format also allows for quick reading, Parents new to the world of autism in children don't necessarily have a lot of time to sit and read as they adjust.

Parents who are well on their journey with autism will probably not find any new information in the book. But one mother who glanced through the pages said that this is precisely the kind of book that she wishes she would have had available after her son was diagnosed.

Purchase the book on Amazon.