A Real Boy
A True Story of Autism, Early Intervention, and Recovery
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A Real Boy is a powerfully inspiring story, made all the more so, in my opinion, by the fact that so much that Christina Adams id for her son echoes so much of what Waldorf education has been saying and doing successfully for years. I think this is a book that everyone can learn from, be heartened by, and then use as life brings us opportunity.
Jonah Adams had been in preschool for less than three weeks when his teachers diagnosed him as autistic. Christina Adams was sure they were mistaken. Then a conversation with her husband's niece, who worked with autistic children, convinced her.
Determined to uncover every secret and symptom of autism, Christina was one of the lucky ones. By combining a special diet and the advice of a cutting-edge doctor with one-on-one instruction from speech therapists and behavioral psychologists, she and her husband found a way to seize Jonah's limited window of opportunity for recover -- and she shares this extraordinary journey with all of us in A Real Boy.
A Nation of Parents Healing Autism Against All Odds
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The core message that I took away from Mother Warriors is one of balance. Each of these parent's stories has the theme "my child was vaccinated and had an extreme reaction to it; in the end (with one sad exception), my child emerged autistic, but was helped to recover." This is not, however, a diatribe against all vaccination. It is instead a call for common sense, and for acknowledging that for all the benefits of vaccines to most children, there are some children who can be very adversely affected. It is for these children that we must be watchful, and we acknowledging that parents really do know their children best. And, it is for all children that Mother Warriors carries the message: never, ever give up when it comes to your children.
These parents faced harrowing experiences, felt isolated and unheard. Yet they also found ways to really, truly help their autistic children. This in the face of a commonly held belief about autism that "there's nothing that can be done." I really appreciate hearing all these different people, with very different lives and perspectives, tell their story. I'm not sure which I find most powerful: their love and determination, or all the many and varied things they found that helped their children. Both carry a strong message of hope, one that I believe is strong enough to resonate for years to come and really help change how children are treated in relation to vaccination and also to autism.
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Temple Grandin's story is as miraculous and inspiring as that of Helen Keller. Mainly through her own determination and with the help of some very loving and insightful adults along the way, she discovered ways to free her self from the chains of autism and then went on to find ways to allow the special gifts of autism to be placed in service of the world. What we can learn from her is a lot.
As a child, she longed for affection, but because she was terrified of human contact and easily overstimulated, she became increasingly isolated instead. She also suffered from extreme anxiety attacks and was truly a prisoner of her autistic constitution.
Because she was also acutely observant and had a real understanding for the animals in her life (farm animals as well as pets), she was able to equate the responses of those animals to her own feelings and then to find ways to help herself out of the anxiety attack syndrome. And from there, her work both as a developer of effective autistic therapies and as a an animal scientist blossomed. As an adult, she is regarded as one of the most gifted animal scientists, and one of the highest functioning autistic individuals in the world.
Here story is remarkable: it teaches us as much about what it means to be human as it teaches about autism and its potentials. I just love this book.
Creative Therapy for Children with Autism, ADD, and Asperger's
Using Artistic Creativity to Reach, Teach, and Touch Our Children
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Anyone who is concerned with the seemingly exponential increase in children manifesting a wide variety of developmental syndromes will rejoice at the appearance of Janet Tubb's truly great book. Janet has worked for over thirty years with children with difficulties ranging from low self-esteem to autism, ADD and more. She has developed her own approach using art, music, and movement - and, when research supports it, nutritional supplements or modifications. Her awareness of children's developmental needs and the effects various artistic therapies can have has its roots in both Waldorf education and conventional therapeutic research and modalities.
Her book is a powerful gift, filled with clear pictures of children with various difficulties, incredibly helpful advice that is amazingly multi-dimensional, and clear instructions for delivering a cornucopia of therapeutic activities and exercises.
Thank you, Janet!
The Promise of Homeopathy
Amy L. Lansky, Ph.D.
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Impossible Cure - The Promise of Homeopathy provides an in-depth and exciting account of the history, philosophy, science, and experience of homeopathic medicine. At the core of Impossible Cure is the amazing story of how the author's son was cured of autism with homeopathy. It also includes dozens of other testimonials of homeopathic cure, for a variety of physical, mental, and emotional conditions. Impossible Cure is an invaluable guide for anyone interested in learning more about homeopathy.
The story of Lansky's son's cure offers something more -- a detailed account of an alternative approach to autism that worked! I think that anyone who is seeking help in working with autism could only benefit from Lansky's story.
Animals in Translation
Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior
Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson
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I've read and heard many reviews of this remarkable new book by Temple Grandin. Depending on the reviewer's focus, Animals in Translation has been seen as a groundbreaking revelation of animal behavior and awareness and/or an inspiring revelation of the world seen from within autism. It is both these things, but in my opinion it is also something else - I experienced it as one deep and brilliant insight after another into human nature itself, not just autistic human nature, but all human nature.
Grandin's insight into animals is so uncluttered and straightforward that she penetrates into the recesses of the human heart as well. The descriptions she gives of the sources of many animal behaviors apply unswervingly as well to the things hidden in the depths of the human soul that well up as surprising, irrational or inconsistent reactions.
If you work with children, this book has more to offer you than I can describe in the space of one review. I can, however, give you an example which I think goes to the heart of how this book can be used on behalf of other people, especially young people. On page 145, Temple begins a discussion of Fear-Driven Aggression. She has previously described Assertive Aggression and is now contrasting it with aggression resulting from fear:
Fear-driven aggression causes so much violence and destruction in the animal and human worlds that I've often asked myself, What is rage for?
Why do we have rage circuits at all?
When you look at animals living in the wild, the answer is simple. Rage is about survival, at the most basic brute level. Rage is the emotion that drives the lion being gored to death by the buffalo to fight back; rage drives a zebra being caught by a lion to make one last-ditch effort to escape. I once saw a videotape of a domestic beef cow kicking the living daylights out of an attacking lion. It was some of the hardest kicking I have ever seen. Rage is the ultimate defense all animals draw upon when their lives are in mortal danger.
When it comes to human safety in the presence of animals, fear cuts two ways. Fear can inhibit an animal or a person from attacking, and very often does. Among humans, the most vicious murderers are people who have abnormally low fear. Fear protects you when you're under attack, and keeps you from becoming an attacker yourself.
But fear can also cause a terrified animal to attack, where a less-fearful animal wouldn't. A cornered animal can be extremely aggressive; that's where we get the saying about not getting someone's "back up against the wall." An animal with his back up against a wall is in fear for its life and will feel he has no choice but to attack.
On average, prey species animals like horses and cattle show more fear-based aggression than predatory animals such as dogs. That shouldn't be a surprise, since prey animals spend a lot more time being scared.
I categorize maternal aggression differently from some researchers; I put it in the fear department. I think maternal aggression is fear-driven at heart because over the years I've observed that the high-strung nervous animals will always fight more vigorously to protect her young than will a laid-back, calm animal like a Holstein dairy cow. Many a rancher has told me that the most hotheaded, nervous cow in the herd is the one who is most protective of her calf.
Any mother, nervous or calm, will fight to protect her baby. That's why on farms the human parents always warn their children to stay away from mama animals. But the fact that it's always the most nervous, fearful mother who shows the most maternal aggression makes me think that maternal aggression is driven by fear, even when the animal is calm by nature. When mother animals think their babies are in danger, they feel fear, and their fear leads them to attack. That's my conclusion.
This brings me to the fundamental question you have to ask yourself any time you're trying to solve a problem with aggression: is the aggression coming from fear or dominance? That's important, because punishment will make a fearful animal worse, whereas punishment may be necessary to curb assertive aggression.
Thinking in Pictures
My Life with Autism
Temple Grandin, Ph.D.
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Prepare for an incredible journey into the workings of the human mind - both normal and abnormal. Temple Grandin, a Ph.D. animal researcher who is also autistic, has gifted us all with an intimate "insiders account" of autism. You will learn more about the nature of this syndrome and of the workings of your own mind from this account than you could from any collection of theoretical reports. Further, because Temple is also a consummate scientist, her report is filled with the latest discoveries about the neurological basis of autism and about what therapies have been found to work and for whom they are effective. This is a great book that is certain to help anyone working with any special human needs. Outstanding!