Sunday, October 9, 2011

Beyond Words

Review of Beyond Words - Part Two
by Leisa A. Hammett 

Beyond Words: The Successful Inclusion of a Child with Autism 
by Mary Donnet Johnson and Sherry Henshaw Corden
Truly a hands-on guide for parents, the book includes an appendix of how-tos including a homemade book on the child - both the child's personal version and a fill-in-the-blank copy, 20 questions for a prospective teacher, schedules, reward boards, social stories and more. 
Every parent of a school-age child with autism can relate to Johnson's descriptions of her heart-gripping fears as she navigated this first year. 
Corden's frank concerns and responding courage in turn offer parents a bird's eye view of a teacher's perspective. The teacher's revelations plus the comments of the typically developing peers and their parents are a true gift. Autism parents come to the experience of school inclusion with a weighty bag of anxiety, hopes and dreams. The honest, tender and redemptive observations from those on "the other side" from the inside provide a medicine cabinet's stock of soothing antidotes for a parent's weary soul.  
Pace is a good role model for inclusion. Having PDD-NOS at the time of kindergarten, he was blessed with typical and almost gifted cognition. Yet, he was challenged by the fact that he was largely nonverbal. He also had some fierce behaviors described in detail and not uncommon to our children - kicking, hitting and sometimes class-disruptive screaming. It would be easy to romanticize the successful inclusion of this child, but Johnson and Corden bring the reader back to reality. This kid had some big pluses but also some hefty challenges.  
Luckily, his team had the right attitude plus a saint of an autism mum leading the way. Johnson gives us parents a template of how to work with school systems. Corden, as well, is a role model for general education teachers, the kind we wish we could all be so lucky to have.
Here's the link to Beyond Words at Amazon
For more of Leisa A. Hammett-Nashville-based author, speaker and autism-mom/advocate,
visit her blog at
“The Journey with Grace: Autism, Art & All the Rest of Life”
published three times weekly and usually focused on autism and 
“disAbility” on Wednesdays. This Wednesday in her blog-a post by me!
She also occasionally covers art and autism on Fridays.
You can find this review in its entirety and others by Leisa on Amazon. 

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