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Friday, December 31, 2010

Autism Symptoms and Signs -A Book Review

Autism Puzzle-The author of the book when snow turns to rain is Craig Shulze, an elementary school assistant principal in Baltimore Maryland. He holds masters of education degree in Early Childhood Education from Towson State University and a PhD in human development from University of Maryland. He and his wife Jill are former board members of the. Baltimore Chapter of the Autism society of America.

Craig is qualified to write this book having raised a child with autism. He knows firsthand the telltale signs of autism, the travails and headaches that accompanies the task of rearing a child with autism, and the many sacrifices and changes that has to be made to accommodate anyone with the disorder.
He is also qualified academically since he has devoted part of his life to studying; while educating himself in Early Childhood education and Human Development for which he is accredited a Masters and PhD degree.

I am a James Paterson fan and mostly read romance and mystery yet; I chose this book because I believe it would further expand my limited knowledge and understanding the disorder and further confirm previously viewed video illustrations and textbook information. My goal was to discover whether the writer of the book, under review, the writer of the text book and various videos were on the same page as far as autism is concerned. Also, seeing that I work with children who have autism, I needed the voice of someone who has gone through the ordeal of raising a child with autism so that I would be better prepared to work with them and also have the ability to pinpoint children with the disorder so that early intervention can be administered. I wanted to hear from someone who has lived and dealt with autism instead of getting it from a textbook. Although, no two children are the same, I wanted to know of the telltale cues that Craig witnessed firsthand which would help me to better deal and understand people and families who have relatives with the disorder.

When snow turns to rain is a narrative centered around a little boy named Jordon, who exhibits three core deficits of autism namely lack of social interaction, communication skills, and behavioral which the experts confirm when they say that, "autism is a disorder that is present from birth or very early during development affecting essential human behaviors such as social interaction, the ability to communicate ideas, feelings, imagination, and the establishment of relationships with others"(national research council, 2003, p.11).

As the book "Educating Children With Autism" points out, autism can happen very early in a child's development and this is true for the main character Jordon,who at one time had the ability of interacting with his parents through words and gestures. He held conversations just as a normal child would but as time went by he regressed into a world that left his mother and father searching for solutions as they rearranged their lives, implemented techniques learn t from research,treatment and educational programs to help their son overcome the disorder of autism.
One of the core deficits of Autism, lack of social interaction in Jordon is further evident in Jordon as Craig observes, “During this third summer I spend with Jordon ,the isolated incidents of negativism, quirky language, resistance to change, cognitive stagnation, and the desire to be alone begin to form a pattern. At times, he will play by himself for periods of up to an hour, all the while repeating phrases; he frequently uses or has heard in books (echolalia). He expresses little or no interest in other children and he shows very little or no interest in other children and shows very little propensity for imaginative play.

The curiosity he exhibited in the previous summer seems to have totally disappeared and he is no longer consistently in a good mood"(1993,p.27). Since early intervention is the key to unraveling the autism puzzle, Craig conducts his own research. After reading "The Empty Fortress" by Bruno Bettelheim, he believes that Jordon’s symptoms and those of Bruno's clients are conclusive. Taking a closer look at Jordon's behavioral symptoms-tendency to repeat phrases, the absence of the words "yes" and "I" from the vocabulary, and the propensity to self stimulate, Craig believes that Jordon has full blown Autism so he takes him to see the Pediatrician who refers him for neurological and psychological evaluation and the prognosis is communication disorder and developmental delay. At that time the neurologist does not confirm Autism ; so Jill and Craig talk to friends, contact local autism specialists by phone, read everything they can get, make games, and puzzles, purchase toys, and come up with plans to deal with Jordon at home.

Craig’s search on the topic of autism results in a reading by a California psychologist, Ivar Lovas, a pioneer in the area of blab who suggest, "the best results being obtained with autistic kids are occurring in settings where behavior modification techniques are being employed"(1993,p.48). Pauls implements this technique by setting up a "secret room" where he and Jill put into practice Lovaas's findings and it works yet;their hopes are shattered when screening done at the Kennedy Institute shows a decline in Jordon's skills up to six months.

Since behavioral techniques stop working Animal Therapy is introduced to help facilitate Jordon's social skills but that fails also and the Pediatrician directs them to a. Boston Psychologist, Dr.Jerome Kagan, Neurologist Dr.Paul Hardy,Educator,Ann Larkin and the governor's wife, Kitty. Dukakis who are supporters of Boston Higashi.

I hope this was beneficial to you and that you will be able to apply early intervention to assist your child should they exhibit signs of autism.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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- David

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