A child with high functioning autism can be a blessing and a challenge. These children are often very bright, which can bode well for academic success and possible career success if they find the right job niche. However, these kids by nature may appear unmotivated because they don’t like to initiate conversation in social settings, or to take new actions such as learning to drive, which is nearly essential in our country to obtaining a job.
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In The Loving Push, Temple Grandin and Debra Moore, a psychologist who has worked with kids on the spectrum, especially those on the high end, seek to encourage parents to gently push their autistic children throughout their childhoods so that they can grow up to be functioning, contributing, fulfilled adults.
If you have a close family member with high-functioning autism, I can’t recommend this book enough!
This book contains three main parts:
- The Path to Success Starts Here: Restoring Hope
- Stretching Your Child & Avoiding Pitfalls
- Preparing Your Child for Adulthood
The authors interviewed many high functioning autistics and their parents. Those with autism ranged from teenagers to people in their 50s. All have been very successful in their lives. One is working as a wildlife biologist; another is a secretary at a university.
One thing I loved about this book was that Grandin and Moore allow us a look into their world. The people who are autistic share their struggles as well as what worked best for them growing up. Their parents also talk about the struggles they faced and how they helped their children become more successful.
The take away from this book is that many autistics resist change and would stay in their protected cocoon even if they didn’t like being there. Parents and other adults need to challenge these children to help them reach for their goals. Examples include making sure that they have household chores so that if they go to college or move out on their own they’ll be able to cook, clean, do laundry, get themselves up in the morning, and pay bills responsibly. In addition, give them the opportunity to volunteer and to work, even if on a very part-time basis, while in high school.
A significant portion of this book is devoted to gaming and how detrimental it can be. We’re fortunate that our autistic child is not at all drawn to gaming, but for many families, gaming addiction can be a real problem, sometimes, unfortunately, with life or death consequences.
I give this book 5 out of 5 stars on the Mom’s Plans’ scale.