By Temple Grandin Ph.D and Debra Moore Ph.D.
Future Horizons 2015.
The Loving Push is a very different type of autism book. It's aimed at the parents of teens and young adults with autism (or Asperger's syndrome) and it concentrates mainly on what comes after school. I've found very few books aimed at this audience and this one is undoubtedly the best.
At 200 fairly densely packed pages, this is a moderate read which unlike other books of its kind does not frequently retread the same ground.
The opening chapter talks about real people with autism and/or Asperger's syndrome who have transitioned to adulthood with varying measures of success. This is not a book of stories about geniuses and many of the young adults in the first chapter simply have "independence" as their main goal. It's a very sobering and realistic look at what comes next.
The second chapter outlines three of the biggest factors on the road to success;
- Avoiding Learned Helplessness
- Learning Optimism and Resisting Habitual Negative Thinking
- The Critical Impact of Mentors
It's in this chapter that the book really clarifies its title; "The Loving Push". It can't be emphasised enough that sometimes as a parent you need to back off and push your kids to do things for themselves.
Chapter 3 covers breaking bad habits, like being unmotivated or reacting badly to problems and failures. This chapter also spends some time comparing the lifestyles of young adults with autism and neurotypical "normal" young adults. It's a great comparison which will have many parents nodding their heads as the realisations hit.
Chapter 4 deals with stretching your young adults beyond their comfortable boundaries while chapter 5 deals with apathetic or anxious people. These chapters are full of great tips and real life examples, many of which are from the parents and kids in the opening chapter.
It's Chapter 6 that really is the eye-opener in this book. As a person with a long history of computer gaming, I've always had issues with Temple's crusade against gaming. I'm pretty sure that I was tensed up ready to reject the whole chapter as "a worry based on her age". That's not the case. This is a really scary chapter which goes into a lot of detail on the mechanics of gaming addiction and the reasons why our children, with Asperger's syndrome or autism, are particularly at risk.
There were many parts of this chapter which had me acknowledging not only my kids behaviours but those of their friends ... and indeed my own behaviour in my younger days. One thing is for sure, we'll be looking more closely at how gaming occurs in our family in the future.
Chapter 7 is all about teaching vital life skills to your child before they become an adult. It covers chores, breaking steps down, using technology to better manage oneself, driver education, interactions with the police and even romantic entanglements. It's a very good chapter but to be honest, my mind was still reeling after chapter 6 and I'm not sure that I took it all in.
There's a great example cited by a professor in chapter 7 where he talks about kids who attend college but have never had to use an alarm clock. Normally their mothers wake them, find their clothes, remind them to get dressed and to have their breakfast. This is great while they're at home but parents who do too much for their kids at home actually put them at a disadvantage. The loving push is what is really needed.
The loving push is hands down, the best autism book aimed at late teens (through to mid-twenties and sometimes beyond). If you have one of these kids already, this is the book to get.... particularly if they spend "too much time" on the computer and/or in their bedroom. If you don't have a teen yet but have a younger child, this book is still a great one to get. It will become increasingly valuable as your kids get older and the earlier the techniques in the book are applied, the better.
I really can't praise this book enough.
The Loving Push: How Parents and Professionals can help Spectrum Kids become Successful Adults
By Temple Grandin Ph.D and Debra Moore Ph.D. is available from;
Honesty Clause: I was provided with a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes.