Sunday, December 9, 2007

Continuing Education for Parents of Children with Autism

Listen to Autism Podcast for great continuing education on Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Parents ought to get a comprehensive manual on the day that any child is born, right? But then, how many would read the manual? I have not read the manual that came with our digital camera, our food processor, our ridiculously complicated alarm clock...
But I did read a great deal before and after my first child was born and luckily, books on parenting and child development are not boring to me like electronic device manuals. My husband did not read any books before our first child was born, nor has he read any on the topic over the 32 intervening years. He does read the manual on stuff like our alarm clock, which is good because I would have thrown that clock out in righteous indignation on the theory that an alarm clock should operate in an intuitively obvious manner. The way I learned to operate the alarm clock was, I let him show me how to use it while maintaining a huffy resentful manner throughout the lesson. My point here is that people are different in what they are willing to learn and how they are willing to learn it.
Some parents are pretty indignant that they have to learn so much to raise a child with ASD--and I don't blame them. Nobody imagines, when they decide to have a baby, that they might need to learn complicated stuff about neurology, communication, social development, sensory systems, intervention methodologies, school systems, insurance policies.... But there is no way around it, so far as I can see. Not much is intuitive about raising a child with ASD and not much goes really well without learning a lot of stuff. You need college level information on at least a dozen topics!
Here is one bit of good news; I have found that most parents become very intrigued with the surprising discoveries and unexpected informational twists and turns that are found on a journey of learning about ASD. Once you get started, learning about autism can become addictive, it is so interesting.
Here is another bit of good news and the point of this post; there are a variety of ways to learn the information that you need to know. Autism Podcast is a good way if you need to combine learning with making dinner or doing laundry (and who doesn't). Found at, these discussions are cohosted by a father, Michael Boil, who is doing exactly what anyone who loves a youngster with autism needs to do, learning about autism, but doing it publically in a podcast where he interviews lots of the great teachers and thinkers and researchers and movers and shakers in the world of Autism Spectrum Disorders. The other host is Nicole Sparapani, MA a Speech & Language Pathologist. She brings a very real world practicing therapist perspective to the podcasts. I feel particularly happy when I listen to her--no doubt because she is in my field and at the unsung clinical end of the field. I wash up my dishes as she asks questions and explains concepts and I think to myself "You Go Girl!"

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