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Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Book Kathleen and I Wish We'd Had

Last month Kathleen and I were asked if we'd review Dr. James Coplan's book Making Sense of Autistic Spectrum Disorders. I love its subtitle: Create the Brightest Future for Your Child with the Best Treatment Options.

If there's such a thing as an autism expert, Dr. Coplan is it and his book is the first book I'd hand new parents. New parents. Not just new parents to autism, but to all new parents. The first chapter alone is worth the price of the book. Far too often, despite what first time parents might read on the pregnancy and new baby websites and in traditional books, they are still often unprepared for what typical development and atypical development are. And with all the fear being spread about autism, it's likely to be the main concern new parents have.

Dr. Coplan's book is detailed and yet easy to read, has easily understood graphics that provide a quick overview of development, and explains autism in a way that is not focused on a deficit model so much as a difference model. His approach is a calm, accepting one and parents will not be terrified if they begin to suspect their little girl or boy fits the autism spectrum traits better than she or he does the typically developing model.

And because his book is no-nonsense and evidence-based, parents who read it before they go googling autism and finding those who are not evidence-based, there's a greater chance that parents reading his book won't panic, won't be desperate, will have a clear roadmap to getting diagnosis and approaching therapies and looking at outcomes. That, my friends, is priceless.

One of the biggest heartaches I've experienced over parenting in the last 23 years is the lack of a guidebook, no clear idea of what to do exactly, and having to find my own way, with some pseudoscientific stumbles along the way. It didn't help that the professionals I dealt with the last two decades were either doom and gloom or clueless, either.

I may be well along the autism path, with my oldest approaching his 24th birthday and the girls turning 12 and 10 this year, but there's still a lot to learn, a lot of growing up to do, and even though I've read countless studies, focused on autism in my master's degree, and read everything I can get my hands on when it comes to autism, I have to acknowledge I can't know it all, keep up with it all, and a handy guidebook to thumb through when I've got a question or am anxious is worth its weight in gold. Dr. Coplan's book will stay by my chair, where I can easily pull it out and thumb through it for hope, for comfort, for guidance, for my three kids. ---Kim Wombles


  I could easily just write "What Kim said" and it would be the honest truth. In the years that we as a family have been aware of autism, I have yet to find a book that helped to explain the many ways that autism can present itself.  A book that not only explained what was going on-but also gave valuable help as to what could be done-In a positive and matter of fact manner. Until now.

 Ten years ago, when my oldest was four, we were basically handed a diagnosis and a hand shake. Kind of  a "Here's your diagnosis-good luck with that!".. We relived the same experience two years later with our next child. I remember feeling so lost-and so very alone.  The doctors and other professionals we were working with seemed to know as little as we did-or did not seem to think it was worth our while to really explore any other options. There was so much that we had to figure out on our own-so many opportunities that I think we missed-simply because we did not know enough. The information was hard to find. 

  In some ways the world has changed since my boys were diagnosed.  There is much more information readily available-especially through the internet.  The problem is in figuring out what is good information and what is not. Having done this for so long-I really thought that I knew most of what there was to know. Until one of my daughters was diagnosed four years ago. I felt so silly for not having recognized it earlier!  As Kim mentioned above-clearer guidelines and a road-map is information that is priceless indeed. Dr. Coplan's book has it all.

  I would absolutely recommend this book to the parents of any child on the spectrum. It is direct, it is matter of fact and most importantly it is positive. It is full of useful and easy to grasp information for parents of newly diagnosed children-AND for veteran parents like myself. This book won't be collecting dust on my shelf.~Kathleen Leopold

If anyone is interested in learning more about Doctor Coplan-I had the pleasure of interviewing him earlier this year for the directory. 

1 comment:

Larissa A said...

Wish I had been handed a book like this 2 years ago. I too feel I've missed opportunities, or at least missed beginning them early enough, due to the lack of knowledge and openness of our "trusted" medical professionals. My sons accomplishments have been despite the traditional medical society and only due to a lot of dedication and research to find those that could help him. When given the diagnosis of autism, one is not only a parent, but must also become an expert doctor, nutritionist, therapist, teacher, and lawyer in order for your child to succeed.

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