The Child with Autism Goes to Town: The Go Anywhere Guide, 250 Tips for Community Outings
Author: Kathy Labosh
Publishing Info: 2004
Reviewed by Maureen Bennie: Director, Autism Awareness Centre Inc.
A handy, easy to read booklet with tips on how to make community outings run more smoothly. Full of detailed, helpful hints, you’ll find advice on going to the playground, movie theater, mall, grocery store, doctor and more! The Child with Autism Goes to Town By Kathy Labosh, Labosh Publishing 2004
Author Kathy Labosh has written a community outing guide can go anywhere ?even in your back pocket. This guide contains 250 tips for creating successful community outings. Ms. Labosh speaks with authority and experience ?she has two boys with autism. Sam has high functioning autism and Nicky has low functioning autism. Through the author’s experience of trying to educate the boys, she found that Nicky remembered details about places and objects he had seen months after the fact. One situation Kathy remembers is going to a friend’s townhouse which was situated amongst a row of identical townhouses. Nicky found the townhouse with no assistance and ran to the backyard to bounce on the trampoline. He had not been there in months.
This experience prompted Kathy to pull Nicky out of school 3 days a week and focus on community outings to build his receptive language. Nicky is non-verbal. In 2004, Nicky still has no language other than receptive language but he was able to return to class full-time and work on his academics. Kathy felt the community outings improved his ability to learn.
As a result of this work, Kathy compiled her experiences into this nifty guide with chapters that feature a variety of community outings such as the playground, dentist, grocery store, mall, movie theatre, doctor’s and family gatherings. Her tips for each outing prepare the child for the activity by breaking it down into steps, which lessens anxiety that comes with the child’s dislike for unpredictability and inability to imitate.
For example, Kathy’s tips for going to the playground include go when it is not crowded and start with the children’s swing and hold on to the child. Once he is used to the motion, move to the bigger swing using the same steps. Next teach the pumping motion by holding out his legs saying “front?then push legs back and say “back? Demonstrate the pumping motion while saying “front/back?
Each outing builds the skill of being out and about by increasing the length of time out, reducing anxiety, and adding new things on to the outing. Safety issues are highlighted as well. Use the outlined steps for outings as a building process for the outing. Kathy recommends not trying to do all of the suggestions at once but tackle one or two steps per outing.
What is great about this guide is the outings are broken down into manageable steps that one can build on. The pitfalls of outings are also explored to prepare you and in turn prepare the child. The breaking down of the tasks can be generalized to others areas such as school recess.
It is important to remember that our children with autism spectrum disorders do not like change or unpredictable situations. This book is an excellent tool to lessen the anxiety of outings and set the stage for positive learning in the community setting.
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