Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Coloring Outside Autism's Lines: 50+ Activities, Adventures, and Celebrations for Families with Children with Autism Paperback – November 1, 2010
|New from||Used from|
All Books, All the Time
Read author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more at the Amazon Book Review. Read it now
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
About the Author
Susan Walton is the parent of a child with autism and a set of twins. After a 15-year career in magazine and book publishing, she began a new career as a parent and advocate to the special needs community in Northern California.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Enjoy Life, Even if Autism Is Along for the Ride
Like most women today, I do a lot of things. But mostly, I'm a mom. Various other words have been added to that description over the last ten years: I'm a mom of three. I'm a mom of twins. I've been a working mom and a stay-at-home mom. I can be a kind-of-strict mom and a sometimes-silly mom. I'm a mom who cooks. But perhaps the label that defines me best is that I am the mom of a child with autism.
My son was a little shy of two years old when he was diagnosed with autism. My experience was not much different than that of a lot of other parents I know. My pediatrician missed the signs even though we pointed out concerns. We beat ourselves up for a long time for not getting him diagnosed sooner. And I was in my last month of another pregnancy (twins) when the psychologist said "that word." No matter what my husband and I thought when we stepped into the office that day, we were not ready to hear it.
It changed everything. And I'm sure it changed everything for you too. Even if your child is not on the autism spectrum, if he or she has special needs of another kind, you've entered into that new world where your family falls outside "the norm." There are a zillion things you are supposed to be doing along with everything you already do. And there is never enough time or money to do it all.
We need to change the way we see ourselves, the ways we parent, our immediate future, and our long-term future. But we go on. We put it into some kind of perspective, and we change. And almost immediately, we get busy trying to overcome it. Every family has different experiences and outcomes with therapy or intervention. But every single one of us works hard to procure and provide something therapeutic every single day.
Every child with autism is completely unique, so all of us modify our lives to accommodate the particular variety of autism that affects our family. I know that my child's issues aren't the same as your child's issues. But no matter how different it is for us, we have a lot in common too. One of the biggest things we have in common is how much we worry. We don't know what the future holds for our kids, and there is a lot to worry about.
There are difficult days, exhausting days that sap all of our resources. We spend so much time arranging and performing therapy, finding funding, driving from appointment to appointment, researching, furthering battles with insurance companies, continuing dialogues with caseworkers, and negotiating with school districts. And of course there's everything else that parents do, like grocery shopping, working a job, housecleaning, pediatrician and dentist visits, and so on. But every routine thing is a lot harder than it ought to be, harder than we expected it to be. Even as years go by and things get a bit easier, they will never be as easy as they are for everyone else, not by a long shot.
The impact of all of this is that each day is hard. We're spread too thin. There are days when autism feels like a lifetime punishment for an unknown crime. We look at friends who are arranging playdates, signing up for summer camps, or planning birthday parties with ease and can't help but wonder: Why isn't it that way for me?
I went through a stage when every little boy I saw made my throat tighten. I had to look away from every child I saw in the supermarket because every little boy in the world seemed to remind me of what my son was missing, what I couldn't give him. Instead of running around exploring the world and drinking in life, my little boy was working endlessly and painstakingly to learn concepts that seem to come naturally to everyone else.
But the biggest mistake we can make is to put family fun at a low priority. It is easy to be consumed by the role autism forces us to play. We are caretakers, therapists, nutritionists, nurses, taxi drivers, and so much more. But for the sake of your child and your family, having fun needs to form a central part of any intervention and therapy you pursue. The best way to increase your child's connectedness and ability to form attachments is to make sure that spending time together is as rewarding as possible. So often when treating autism, the term "reward" is used to describe a tangible or fleeting benefit provided by an adult who is trying to coax a desired behavior. There are styles of therapy built on the premise that controlling rewards leads to desirable behavior. But the feeling of reward that comes from access to a toy or earning a sticker is nothing compared to the feelings of joy and satisfaction associated with having fun with the people who are part of a child's life every day. In order to teach your child that connecting with family is rewarding, you have to make it rewarding. It has to feel pleasurable, warm, and gratifying-not momentary and fleeting and immediately followed by another demand. Pay attention to what your child considers fun and then put as much effort into enjoying a day together as you do into procuring therapy. Because the pursuit of fun is therapy in its own way. And it has outrageous benefits for the rest of the family too. Having a child with autism in the family pushes us to seek out interests that are off the beaten path, to find experiences that especially might work for our spectrum child. Setting out on the popular family fun activities probably won't fulfill us, because they have been generally manufactured to please the most typical kind of family, and we can't be called one of those. We need to modify usual destinations to work for us or sometimes avoid them completely. So we need to get creative, try new things, and take chances. If necessity is the mother of invention, creativity is the maiden aunt of autism. (You may not have to include her in family time, but when you do, it is always more fun!)
Try to enter weekends with an open mind and a sense of adventure. Discover new experiences together and activities that work on some level for everyone. Of course you can continue to enjoy and repeat the tried and true...but try to add one new thing! No matter what you decide to do, if you approach your time together with a sense of fun, it will bring your family closer. Running from appointment to appointment is real work, for you and for your child. It is work for his siblings too, whether they go along to wait or simply miss out on their parents' attention. There have to be times when you turn off the work and relax and enjoy each other's company.
And even if a little voice in the back of your head is saying, "Wow, this might strengthen trunk muscles" or "this encourages language," turn down the volume on your internal therapy voice as low as it can go. It should be drowned out by another voice in your head, the one shouting, "Whoopee! This is FUN!"
If you buy a new print edition of this book (or purchased one in the past), you can buy the Kindle edition for only $2.99 (Save 79%). Print edition purchase must be sold by Amazon. Learn more.
For thousands of qualifying books, your past, present, and future print-edition purchases now lets you buy the Kindle edition for $2.99 or less. (Textbooks available for $9.99 or less.)
Top customer reviews
This book offers really practical advice on discovering activities that will work for your family, and step-by-step instructions on how to exploit those activities to suit you and your child. I also really liked the section on involving extended family and will be buying this book for grandparents!
I have finally found the book that the School Psychologist was supposed to hand me when they gave us my child's murky neurological diagnosis of Borderline Asperger's and Sensory Processing Disorder. It is a must-have for anyone who finds themselves at the intersection of social inclusion and the company of actual people. It is operating instructions for parents of sensitive, quirky , and differently-abled children. With her proactive and practical suggestions for how to keep your quirky child entertained and engaged in a variety of real-life situations, Susan Walton deserves honorary degrees in Speech Pathology, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy and Child Psychology. Her skillful way of supporting and encouraging grieving parents to push on and pursue family dreams makes her also 1-part Social Worker. Regardless of where you are in your acceptance process, you will appreciate how Susan acknowledges the Superwoman and Superman in every parent of a child on the spectrum.
Susan offers nugget after nugget of empowering wisdom about how to prepare, engage and keep your atypical child in her zone of proximal development, while also creating a bridge to the world beyond your home. Her advice ranges from very specific ideas about what stand-by items to keep in your car, to general, over-arching ideas about building your own community around your special child and special family. In my opinion, her tips and advice pertain to all families and children. Her discussion about children's clothing, from both a sensory and motor planning standpoint, and as a visual way to communicate with other children, will assist parents with the challenge of how to dress their kids. Susan gives great advice about how to create a cozy, organized home space tailored to your child's sensory needs. Creating bonds between your autistic child and extended family members can be a challenge. There is a section in Chapter 6 specifically for grandparents, extended family, and close friends to read. It offers great ideas about how to support you and your child during visits. Chapter 10 offers specific advice about how to navigate the holidays with extended families, how to work compromises and create new traditions that fit your family's needs. Chapter 11 provides great recommendations for sensory-friendly vacation ideas.
This a book that I wish I had owned when my child was much younger. I would recommend it to any family touched by Autism or special needs, and I will be recommending it to my friends, family and clients. Thank you, Susan Walton, for taking your time, energy, and creativity to support other families. You make coloring outside of autism's lines a celebration indeed!
Synopsis: Having an autistic child may mean that parents have to do things differently and to change their lives. However, it doesn't mean that parents are stuck at home without any way to go out into the world and enjoy different activities.
This is a wonderful book about how parents can effectively deal with the perplexities of raising an autistic child and even going on outings of all sorts. The activities in this book will bring new hope for families living with autism. It seems that trips and life is an uphill battle when parents have a child with autism. This book suggests that need not be the case. Susan Walton's book includes 50 carefully selected outings and activities that kids with autism can enjoy.
Overall Thoughts: I absolutely love this book. Not only is it hopeful, but the author encourages the reader to create times and activities that autistic children can enjoy. The diagnosis of autism will not be as devastating after you read this book. I urge all parents with autistic children to read it.
Most recent customer reviews
Together we make brown....but that doesn't mean we're bored.Read more
so many different activities to do...
gives me tons of ideas
if your wondering about reading... JUST GET IT!!!!Read more