Challenging the Myths of Autism: Unlock New Possibilities and Hope by Jonathan Alderson

This book written by Jonathan Alderson, Ed.M. is going to make waves. Waves that I hope will shake up many, especially those who hold positions that can accelerate the changes Jonathan Alderson writes about. Challenging the Myths of Autism: Unlock New Possibilities and Hope will change the way individuals with autism spectrum disorder have been viewed by many.

If you are searching for information on autism because you are the parents of a newly diagnosed child or the teacher of a child with ASD who has been assigned to your class, where do you turn to for information on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)? What you already know about autism keeps popping up in your mind; how much of it is reliable? How can you sift through the millions of books, blogs, programs, treatment options and studies on the topic? What or who can you believe? One place to start is with Jonathan Alderson’s book, Challenging the Myths of Autism: Unlock New Possibilities and Hope. Why? Alderson’s book is crammed with heartwarming stories, immediately useful information, and most of all HOPE to cancel the grief many parents of an autistic child feel upon learning the diagnosis.

First of all, congratulations to Jonathan Alderson! JPX Media Group announced the winners and finalists of THE 2012 INTERNATIONAL BOOK AWARDS (IBA) on May 23, 2012 and Challenging the Myths of Autism: Unlock New Possibilities and Hope is the winner for the Parent Resource Category.

In Challenging the Myths of Autism, Jonathan examines seven stereotypical characterizations or “myths of autism”. He has a chapter on each of these perennially inaccurate descriptions. Each chapter explains the origins of the seven myths and discusses the evidence refuting them. The author invites the reader to put aside their preconceived notions of autism which can mislead parents, therapists, and the general public to underestimate the potential of children with autism.

About Challenging the Myths of Autism and a Few Excerpts

#1: The Myth of Affection, Children with Autism Can’t Share Affection

“…there is a long list of physical health problems associated with autism…chronic bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and acid reflux can make a child moody, frustrated, irritable, and sap her energy. When we don’t feel well, we don’t feel social.”

#2: The Myth of Ritual, Repetitious Behaviours (Stims) are Bad and Should Be Stopped

“Start with the belief that a repetitive and restricted ritual has a purpose… repetitive behaviors can be the bridge to insights, to understanding, and to accepting difference. We need to learn more about their nature and cause.”

#3: The Myth of Socialization, Children with Autism Should Be Pushed to Socialize as Early as Possible

“Ensure social-learning behaviors like observing, imitating, and social motivation, among other skills, are in place… to have smoother transitions into larger social groups, more enjoyment, and greater social success. Children typically acquire social skills in an order that builds one upon the next. Many readers will appreciate the section in this chapter about inclusive classrooms and if they are the right environment for all students with autism all the time. Some parents, therapists and teachers feel that many mainstream classrooms do not provide the environment, accommodations and supports many autistic students require and could receive in another type of classroom or in a private or home-based program. If an inclusive classroom with lots of students is so overwhelming that a person with ASD shuts down and has no chance to reach his potential the author calls it an “isolating environment” not “inclusive”.

#4: The Myth of Evidence, Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) Is the Only Evidence-Based Treatment for Autism

“Combining different types of strategies affords more choices for the individual learning styles and needs of people with autism.”

#5: The Myth of IQ, Most Children with Autism Have Mental Retardation

“…we can acknowledge the diversity of thinking skills and different types of intelligence in the autistic population and, with acceptance and patience support them to let their individual intelligences shine.” The topic of the validity and reliability of IQ tests for children with autism is well dealt with. If accommodations and modifications are rarely made when administering these tests to children with autism and they are given in unfamiliar buildings or rooms, by professionals who are strangers, with materials and procedures that are new and different all this is definitely going to impact the IQ scores.

#6: The Myth of the 5-Year “Window”, Children with Autism Lose Their Chance to Change Once They Turn Five

“People with autism of all ages are capable of making significant progress through the lifespan… Yes, early intervention is extremely important but parents and educators need to be informed on the benefits of intensive education past age five as well.”

#7: The Myth of Imagination, Children with Autism Lack Imagination and Creativity

“Schools, education programs, and treatment centres could reconsider their curriculum and programming for students with autism. Are age-appropriate amounts of time and opportunity to imagine, pretend play, and be creative provided? Oftentimes, intensive behaviour interventions are heavily focused on super-structured rote learning tasks with little time for exploration and creativity.”

From the excerpts you can see that Challenging the Myths of Autism is easy to understand and should be read by parents, educators, friends, therapists, and medical professionals who work with individual on the autism spectrum. The nine page index makes this a book you can refer to often.

About The Author

Jonathan Alderson, M.Ed. Author of Challenging the Myths of Autism: Unlock New Possibilities and HopeWho is Jonathan Alderson and is his information reliable? Jonathan Alderson is a reliable source. He completed his Masters of Education at Harvard University. He has a private educational consulting practice in South-western Ontario, working primarily as an autism treatment specialist.

He was the Curriculum Specialist Coordinator with Teach for America in Houston, Texas, and did an internship with the Harvard Family Research Project. After completing an undergraduate degree in developmental and educational psychology at the University of Western Ontario, and a year at the Sorbonne University in Paris, Jonathan published his honors thesis in the Journal of the Society for Accelerative Learning and Teaching.

He completed a three-year certification training at the Autism Treatment Center of America, which included over 1,500 hours of one-to-one floor time with autistic children. He then worked as Administrator in the center’s Son-Rise Program in Massachusetts and as a senior family trainer for eight years. This was followed by a year in London, England, providing support to families in various European countries.

Mr. Alderson has worked internationally, giving seminars and training workshops in Europe, the Middle East, Australia and Mexico. For over 20 years, the author has dedicated himself to learning about ASD by reading, attending conferences on behavioural interventions and biomedical treatments. He has worked with thousands of families and spent hours upon hours in therapy sessions with children on the autism spectrum. He writes, [quote]“People with autism can have creative imagination. They can show affection and love. They can have above-average intelligence. And most importantly, like every human being, they deserve respect, acceptance, love, and care. I’ve witnessed children with autism make the most remarkable changes and have had the honour to work with their loving and dedicated parents.” [/quote]

I am sure as parents read this book and about the work the author does with autistic children they are hoping their own child’s teachers or health care professionals are reading it also!

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Read Our Two Part Interview with Jonathan Alderson: Part 1   Part 2

3 Comments

  • Tammi Posted February 2, 2013 2:19 pm

    See youtube video “Abuse and torture of autistic man must be punished”. It’s every parent of an autistic child’s worst nightmare: respite home health workers caught secretly eye gouging autistic son, kicking, punching him, twisting arm, pulling his hair. Heartbreaking and infuriating and illuminating. We must protect those who can’t defend themselves!Parents should install cameras in their home to protect their autistic family members when they have caregivers. It seems the only way to really know what’s going on when you aren’t around to protect them.

    • Lorna dEntremont Posted February 5, 2013 4:37 pm

      Hello Tammi, the abuse you describe is awful! I am sure it is every parent of children with special needs’ worst nightmares.

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