An Early Start for Your Child with Autism


An early Start for Your Child with Autism: Using Everyday Activities to Help Kids Connect, Communicate, and Learn
by Sally J. Rogers, Geraldine Dawson, Laurie A. Vismara
The Guilford Press, 2012
Review by Tijuana L.Canders
Dec, 2017

Even after a child is enrolled in an early intervention program, many parents wish to augment the program by using strategies for promoting communication and learning at home. In fact, research has shown that the effectiveness of early intervention is increased when parents are using similar teaching strategies. After all, children spend far more time with their family than with a therapist.

Sally J. Rogers, Geraldine Dawson, and Laurie A. Vismara wanted to write a book that would help parents from the very start. A step-by-step guide for using the parent-child relationship to promote connection, communication and learning. The authors did not want a guidebook of activities where parents sit down to “do therapy” with their child. Rather, hoped to support their role as parents by offering suggestions for how to turn meals, play and other daily activities into opportunities to further their child’s development.

When typically developing children interact with parents, they are learning how to play, communicate and interact to form relationships. An Early Start for Your Child With Autism encourages same everyday learning opportunities to be available for children with autism. Drawing on research and their own clinical experience, the authors provide a wealth of tips for making this happen.

The book also includes sections on how to choose the best possible early intervention program for your child. This includes tips for finding and evaluating programs and therapists. The book also features advice on coordinating the different therapies your child may need, including medical care. Importantly the book is discussed in practical ways for taking care of yourself and the rest of your family, ultimately benefiting the child.

The goal is to help parents quickly empower themselves by giving them the tools they need to help their child. In the “Everyday Strategies” section of the book, chapters are  laid out to address and build on the skills children need to master. This begins, for example, with capturing your child’s attention and engaging in face-to-face interactions. These lead to more complex behaviors such as imitation, joint attention and pretend play. For each set of skills, basic strategies are offered for turning daily activities into opportunities for positive interaction.

An Early Start for Your Child with Autism is an excellent resource for teaching caregivers the Early Start Denver Model for children on the autism spectrum ages 12-48 months. The method focus is on the relationship between children with ASD and their parents, and uses interactive play to help develop social and speech skills.

Parents may also want to look into getting certified or using this resource along with early intervention. This is an excellent read and is easily accessible to use for autism spectrum groups, clinics, and support groups.

© 2017 Tijuana L. Canders