Saturday, November 20, 2010

Book Review, and Another Giveaway!

Everything You Need to Know About Diagnosis, Doctors, Schools, Taxes, Vacations, Babysitters, Treatment, Food, and More
By Tony Lyons

Congratulations! If you don’t become over-stimulated by this book’s subtitle, you probably aren’t in the autism spectrum :o) But if your kid is...
This new book is crammed full of pertinent and useful information for parents of children in the autism spectrum. If you happen to have a boy and not a girl, you’ll be very happy to know Tony Lyons didn’t forget about you - there is also a “1,001 Tips for the Parents of Autistic Boys; Everything You Need to Know About...” [all that stuff mentioned above] Yay!

So – you have a kid in the autism spectrum. Just flippin’ great, huh? And now your plethora of doctors, teachers and therapist are telling you to read up on the condition so you will be better prepared to handle your child’s scheduling needs, sensitivities, angry outbursts, melt-downs in WalMart, freaking out on Christmas morning, anxiety over school, lack of social skills, propensity to forget to wipe, limited tastes in food, random medications, gluten-free diet, strange or destructive behavior, terror over the sound made by the vacuum…

Yeah – you don’t have enough on your plate, and now your well-meaning doctor makes a recommendation for a 1,062 page compilation of medical studies for you to memorize so that if you’re lucky you just might remember what to do when little Suzie hides in a very inaccessible part of the giant, plastic tube-maze at a McDonald’s playland while the employees are yelling at you to “get her out” because the over-stimulation and noise made her lose her recently-eaten lunch somewhere in the ball-pit. Not feeling it…

For those of us who live in the real world – “1,001 Tips” is for us!

The tips are exactly that – short, precise thoughts about handling all sorts of situations. No long-winded, graduate-level psychology lectures. Just direct, to the point, points. For instance:

“5. A child with autism will often experience sensory overload; they will cover their ears to sounds which overwhelm them, cover their eyes or look away from painful visual impressions, and may self-limit their diet or attempt to taste non-food items to avoid or satiate acute tastes.”
(Page 5, 1,001 Tips for the Parents of Autistic Girls / Lyons)

 Christmas... make it stop! (Iraq at 18 months)

Lyons also uses poignant quotes from other autism authorities like:

“133. When I was a child, loud sounds like the school bell hurt my ears like a dentist drill hitting a nerve. Children with autism need to be protected from sounds that hurt their ears. The sounds that will cause the most problems are school bells, PA systems, buzzers
on the scoreboard in the gym, and the sound of chairs scraping on the floor.
—Temple Grandin, PhD, author of Thinking in Pictures and
(Page 56, 1,001 Tips for the Parents of Autistic Girls / Lyons)

The great thing about these tips is that I can reference relative subject matter right when I need it, keeping my other hand free to continue its death-grip on the wrist of my wailing, flailing child who has just been caught red-handed writing on the walls... again.
For Example:

Table of Contents:
Chapter 64: Responding to Undesirable Behavior 303
Fast forward to page 303… skim… skim… Ah!:

697.  Don’t threaten a punishment you’re not prepared to enforce. If you’re not really going to cancel the birthday party, don’t say you will. Don’t count to three, or ten—your child will learn that she always has that long, and you didn’t mean it the first time. If you teach a two-year-old, gently, but firmly, that you mean what you say, you don’t have to keep teaching it—at sixteen, she will still know that you meant it the first time. Too often parents allow their children to push them around because they want to be liked, but your child will neither like nor respect you. Children crave boundaries.
(Page 304, 1,001 Tips for the Parents of Autistic Girls / Lyons)

“Iraq, if you write on the walls again, I will never let you use another pencil or pen for as long as you live!”

No, not really. But I WILL put her markers in “time out” for the rest of the week. And NO… even though I have upheld a “no means no” rule from the beginning, Iraq STILL tests that theory every single day. Every kid is different.

1,001 Tips for the Parents of Autistic Girls covers everything from getting through daily home life to surviving the IEP process. It is so solidly based in reality, in fact, all I had to do was read, “Chapter 6: Individualized Education Program: Your Child’s Weapons 31” in the table of contents and my eyes glazed right over - just like in an actual IEP meeting!

That’s not to say that every nugget of wisdom is helpful to every person, for instance:

698. Use positive discipline methods that work. Many parents use time-outs, yell, or take away privileges as their top three discipline options. If those methods aren’t working for you, it can be frustrating, and can lead to more arguments if you’re not feeling successful.
—Toni Schutta, M.A., L.P., Parent Coach, Author, and
(Page 304, 1,001 Tips for the Parents of Autistic Girls / Lyons)

Ok – so perhaps this isn’t as obvious to everybody as it is to me, but with 3 very different kids, each with their own special diagnosis, to me this sounds just a little like, “If the engine falls out of your car, don’t get in it every morning and try to drive it to work. Instead, try having a new engine installed.” Really? So that’s why I’ve been late to work every day for the past 5 weeks! Wish I’d thought of that sooner. 

I also wouldn't have minded seeing a long, creative lists of discipline methods to try instead of simply a suggestion not to try the same thing over and over. I always try to stay one step ahead of Iraq, but I've exhausted dozens of options now and would love to have a few more to fall back on. Then again... that subject matter might make for a great sequel by itself.

Other information the book offers will sound VERY familiar to parents. For me, lots of the points rang true, like:

Does not understand typical social boundaries or behavior in social situations

Extreme tantrums—uncontrollable (sometimes since day one - and still happening 7 years later)

Inappropriate playing with toys or prefers objects that are not toys

Difficulty with transitions (could be location or activity transitions)

Oh yes, and the list goes on!

All in all, I would say this is a must-have book for any parent wading through the quagmire of the autism or autism spectrum world! As I read through it I found myself thinking, "Oh thank goodness! I'm not the only one whose kid does that!"

And now for that giveaway! One randomly selected commenter on this blog post will receive their very own copy of 
Everything You Need to Know About Diagnosis, Doctors, Schools, Taxes, Vacations, Babysitters, Treatment, Food, and More
By Tony Lyons

Leave a comment - let me know what your biggest autism-related challenge has been this month. Be sure to leave an email address (you can format it like: "bulldogma[at]emailserver[dot]com" to avoid spammers).
I'll announce the winner on Wednesday, November 24th in the evening in a new blog entry, so be sure to check back then!

Of course, you'll have to add your own illustrations. Mine don't come with the original :o)



  1. Our biggest challenge has been transitioning from school to home.

  2. Hi, got to your blog from the tour's website. I've added your blog to the Autism Blogs Directory and am looking forward to reading more of your blog. :-)

  3. Biggest challenge? For her, everyone is a friend. Her attaching herself to a persons leg when all I did was need to find out if there were more of a sale item hidden somewhere.

    drcooksey at hotmail

  4. My middle child has Sensory Processing Disorder. For him, its sounds a touch. We used to have screaming blowouts every night. Lots of OT and adjusting how we do things around here has helped so much. I can still tell, even now, when he's "out of synch" because he reacts irrationally to things and can't focus on things, but we have so many more good days now than bad. wish I had had some of these types of resources when he was younger.

    Emma seems to not like loud sounds and I don't know if she has a touch of SPD too or is just being 5! We have enough challenges with her with T1 diabetes and celiac, really don't want to add another on top of it.

    And then I have a 13-year-old with chronic teenager itis. Wish there was a cure for that one!

  5. Our biggest problem right now is dealing with the school. Everyone there (teachers, kids, principal) don't seem to understand sensory overload issues or even seem care. The only one that has been a help is the guidance counselor. She's been a God-send for our family.

  6. Oh Yay - what a great book!

    Our biggest challenge this month has been trying to get my daughter to work on subjects that she does not like, for homeschool. She refuses to do some math, practise her instrument, or do spanish homework. We are slowly making progress with this issue.

    Thank you for letting me know about your awesome give-away!


  7. Hi! Our biggest challenge this month with our HFA seven-year old girl haas been the changes in her routine. Soccer season finished up, holiday activities have kicked into high gear, school schedules have been switched up, her OT disappeared without warning, more speech therapy started...the works! The season and time change certainly hasn't helped. Add that to constant sensory overload (Sensory Processing Disorder too!), and November has been interesting!!

    jmsmith[dot]518[at] gmail [dot] com

    I work in an elementary school cafeteria. I reallt ejoy working with the kids. The special Ed kids are great most of the time, but there are moments that I don't quite know how to handle. Occasionally we get the tantrums, food being thrown, stomping, screaming, cursing etc..I would love to win this book so I would have more knowledge of how to deal with the kids.I realize they to learn to behave in these formative years so they can be more acclimated to society later on.

  9. Our biggest problem right now is dealing with the school.

  10. Wow, that picture of Iraq at Christmas reminds me of a little girl in Goldie's class at church. She is ALWAYS hiding behind her hands and won't talk to anyone. Her family thinks she is just shy, but now I wonder.

    I have an 8 yo with sensory issues and my only complaint is that all of her bouncing and spinning gets on my nerves.

  11. Do your children go to Seven Generations charter school? If so, our kids go to school together. So anyway, I am just writing to see, if you have ever looked into or considered biomedicine for your daughter with the ASD? Our five year old has SPD and had been unofficially placed mildly on the spectrum, but it never stuck and I chalk that up to biomedicine. Autism symptoms started showing when he was around 2.5 and progressed until he was lining up cars, hand flapping, had tics, severe sound sensitivities, sensory seeking, BM problems, sleep disturbances nightly, had low self esteem, delayed fine motor skills, the list was endless. We started biomedicine around 3.5 and now at 5, there are no signs of any of this. And if we don't have things in check health wise, the sound sensitivities and some tantrums come back. It's out signal that something needs addressing. Once we address them, poof, they disappear. He has occasional meltdowns, but NOTHING like they used to be. We never used any sort of therapy, because if we had his health in check, he didn't need it. We aren't done, the road is long, but I HAD to share with you that autism IS reversible!! Feel free to contact me directly, if you would like. I have a blog too, journaling our road as it unwounded before us.

    The bottom line is that your daughter's health condition is driving her "symptoms" and I would love to chat with you, if you are interested. If not, I understand, we all have our limits.



This is the part where you get to say something! I'd love to hear from you.