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Overcoming Autism: Finding the Answers, Strategies, and Hope That Can Transform a Paperback – February 1, 2005

4.8 out of 5 stars 57 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Clinician Koegel (cofounder of the Autism Research Center at the University of California Santa Barbara) and novelist LaZebnik (Same As It Ever Was), mother of an autistic boy, team up "to show you how intelligent, well-planned early interventions... can improve the symptoms of autism enormously." That doesn't mean that they offer easy remedies to what's practically an epidemic (they estimate 1 in 150 births result in an autistic child). The technique of "applied behavior analysis" (a behavior modification program stressing close observation and positive reinforcement by parents and doctors), say the authors, can reduce the withdrawal and other characteristic behaviors of autism while improving a child's prognosis for intellectual and social development. They organize chapters by behaviors typical of autism, e.g., "Ending the Long Silence"; "Tears, Meltdowns, Aggression, and Self-Injury"; and "Self Stimulation." The coauthors take turns in each chapter, first discussing symptoms clinically and then anecdotally from a parent's perspective. Koegel believes disruptiveness and self-involvement are often attempts to communicate, and suggests ways to tailor replacements for such conduct. LaZebnik adds soothing, often wry first-person advice. As the mother of a boy who "was entirely nonverbal at age two and a half," LaZebnik's good news leavens Koegel's sometimes daunting program of behavior analysis, positive modeling and incentives. Encouraging but realistic, the authors' humane, proactive tactics toward improving autistic behavior will interest parents willing to take a labor-intensive, teaching approach to their child's disorder.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"A truly remarkable book... I recommend it very highly." —Fred R. Volkmar, M.D., Yale University

"An outstanding book... comprehensive, calm, poignant, and surprisingly funny." Wendy Mogel, author of The Blessing of a Skinned Knee

"Overcoming Autism provides solid information and a practical headstart toward understanding children's needs and managing their behavior effectively." —Bruce J. Masek, Ph.D., ABPP, Clinical Director, Child and Adolescent Pyschiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and Associate Professor of Psychology at Harvard Medical School

"An excellent, practical book for both parents and teachers." Temple Grandin, Ph.D., author of Thinking in Pictures


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (February 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143034685
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143034681
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #241,813 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Suzanne Amara VINE VOICE on December 11, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I've read probably hundreds of books about autism spectrum disorders since having a child diagnosed with such. This book marks the first time I felt I was reading about a parent like myself. I almost cheered out loud early in the book when the author with a child with autism said she was not a tigress, not the type to confront any and all to help her child, just a parent that loved her child very much and was devoted to helping him. So many books written by parents about autism are all about how far they have gone to help their child, and generally by following some quite narrow path, such as dietary intervention, ABA, etc. I am always struck by how so little mention is made of any other children in the family, or of the great aspects of their child OUTSIDE the autism. In this book, I really felt like I was reading about a whole family and a WHOLE CHILD---one with interests that while they might be unusual, were still kind of cool and not just obsessions to be gotten rid of.

The clinical advice here is very well done. It's practical to the extreme---right down to giving ideas about helping children know what to talk about during lunch at school (hint---all kids love to discuss how gross some foods are!) While it is plainly said that helping your autistic child needs to take place full time, you are told how to do this in the course of continuing to live your life.

I do think this book would be more helpful to those with verbal children. While it does contain some advice for the non-verbal child, it seems to be more aimed at those with verbal and middle to higher functioning children.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is not at all helpful if you have a child who is less than a high functioning autistic. I read the entire book and tried to come at it from the perspective of both my children who have these issues, and not a single topic or question and answer would have applied to either of my two children. Ms. Koegel's answer to stims is to try to distract a child and get him to do something else. Her answer to the question of melt-downs and tantrums was to make sure the child wasn't anxious or hungry or trying to get attention. As if we parents wouldn't have thought of that already, tried every distraction imagineable, tried to make sure the child wasn't hungry or tired, or whatever, and still find no answers to the screaming, the stim-ing, etc.?

Her answer to the question of the grocery store was one of the worst. The mother asked "I can't take my daughter to the grocery store because of her bad behavior, but I have to do the shopping, so what can I do?" Her answer assumed, for one thing, that the mother had access to a care provider she could leave the child with until that child was behaving better. Her answer did not take into account any of the issues a child faces at a store. The crowds, the lights, the smells, the noise, the overwhelming sensory overload. Just buying the child a toy at the end of the trip if she behaves is what you would do with a NORMAL child, not an autistic one.

In fact, that is what is wrong with this book. Her ideas to "distract" a child from a stim or repetitive behavior, to explain to the child why this or that is not an appropriate behavior, etc., all assumes that the child can understand you. All of her interventions and ideas seemed geared toward pretty normal children who had a few problems adjusting or fitting into a social setting.
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Format: Paperback
As the father on an autistic child, I've bought a few books that claimed to be practical guides for parents, but unfortunately, come across as dry academic tomes about setting up an entire special needs curriculum. I've also attended a seminar on applied behavioral analysis (ABA) which came across as turning my son into a "trained monkey", rather really overcoming the problem. And thoughtful friends and family members have provided me with inspirational stories about maniacally devoted parents of "cured" autistic children, who have way more intensity and resources that I could hope to commit to the problem, and therefore, leave me with feelings of hopelessness rather than inspiration.

So it was with great relief and comfort reading Overcoming Autism, which takes a sensible ABA approach to overcoming autism, and provides a number of practical remedies to many common difficulties parents face with autistic children. The book is well organized, and Dr. Koegel is highly experienced and respected in the field of autistic child development. A strength of the book is that many helpful case studies are provided about particular problems autistic children have. And the solution is always sensible, and something the parents can easily implement. LaZebnick's personal account with her own son, who was effectively overcome most of his autism, really fleshed out the book and provided a well needed emotional voice throughout all the factual information.

The book is definitely written from a woman's perspective, and a few times, I was almost asking myself "Where's the father" while reading. I would have like more of a father's perspective or discussion of the father's role, but that is a minor quibble. I expect to be consulting this book often as I raise my son.
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