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Tips, Tricks, and Advice: Patty's Blog

A Note from the Author

Welcome! This is the third edition of The OASIS Guide, which means that this book has been part of my life and always on my mind almost constantly since the first edition was conceived with original coauthor Barb Kirby in the late 1990s.

All authors "live with" their books to some extent, but I also live with the reason this book came into existence for me: my son, Justin. I started it all those years ago as the mother of a seven-year-old just barely a year past diagnosis, in a world where few people had even heard the term "Asperger syndrome," let alone knew what to do about it. I was a journalist/author mom convinced I'd set my professional skills out like dogs on a hunt. I'd get to the bottom of this thing, no matter what. Before too long, however, it became clear that I needed to go further.

Fast forward--and it sure feels like it--to now. I'm not the only parent whose quest for understanding and drive to make her child's life the best it could be "went pro." For me personally, a cluster of disappointing experiences with questionable interventions and unprofessional therapists provided the push that sent me back to school, the first step in becoming a special education teacher, early intervention provider, school consultant, and behavior analyst.

So what has changed? For one thing, we now know much more about Asperger's and other ASDs and what it takes to ensure that a child is able to fulfill his potential or seek her dreams. We know what works and why. We also know what doesn't work and why. Unfortunately, the field at large and well-meaning people continue to promote interventions and therapies of little or no proven value. As a parent who herself sampled just about every "flavor of the month" when my son was younger and this world was new, I understand the drive to "leave no stone unturned," to literally live up to your promise to "do everything" possible to help your child. We now know that in the quest to do everything, we run the risk of wasting time and energy on interventions that literally do nothing.

One of the biggest differences between this new edition and the previous one (published in 2004), is that the intervening decade has brought us closer to understanding the nature of AS and other ASDs (if not the causes). It has also provided serious study and research into effective interventions. For this edition's chapter on "Options and Interventions," the focus moved to helping readers understand the difference between interventions that are evidence based and those that are not. And to make those determinations, I turned to established, long-term studies done by experts, in particular two essential publications: A Parent's Guide to Evidence-Based Practice and Autism, which is available online online, and Evidence-Based Practices for Children, Youth, and Young Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder, also available on the web. They are free, comprehensive, and easy to read. You can also share them with teachers, school staff, and other professionals working with your child.

Although I am the mom of a child with ASD, this book is not about my experiences. We, our families, and our children are each too unique for anyone else's experience to work as a "recipe" for any child's intervention plans. Childhood passes quickly, and we can all agree that the goal should always be to use your and your child's time, energy, and effort effectively and wisely. That means "cooking" with "ingredients" that work.

Thanks for reading,

Patty

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