My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Most parents grapple with how to guide their children into a valuable and viable adulthood. Through all of my years of parenting and my time of consoling and counseling many parents in churches where I have pastored, this is a steady stream of stress. But add to this the particular struggles of autism, and the frustrations and feelings of futility can be greatly exacerbated. To restore hope and rebuild courage in parents with children on the spectrum comes a new 288 page paperback. “The Loving Push: How parents and professionals can help spectrum kids become successful adults” has co-written by Dr. Temple Grandin, author, professor and lecturer who is on the spectrum; and Dr. Debra Moore, author and psychologist who has worked with many clients dealing with HFA and Asperger’s. As the authors state, they “want to increase the odds that your child grows into an adult with a rewarding, meaningful life” (xiii).
“The Loving Push” weaves together the stories of several young people who are on the autism spectrum and their parents. The accounts describe real live people overcoming and working through their specific peculiarities to become increasingly capable of independent living. Setbacks, disappointments and dark moments are described, as well as successes and advancements. Their parents and mentors also chime in voicing their strategies, relating the consequences and end results. The one shared trait in every story is that each person “was encouraged and “stretched” just outside of their comfort zone by at least one adult in their life,” which helped keep them from falling into “chronic learned helplessness” (26).
Beyond the stories, the authors tackle several “how-to” approaches. For example, Chapter 2 walks the reader/mentor through ways to enable their unique child to avoid learned helplessness, to learn optimism and resist habitual negative thinking, while encouraging the mentor in the importance of their role. The significance of supportive adults is drummed through the book from cover-to-cover, especially adults who blend “being a positive role model, a source of advice or information, and someone who” expects “effort and accountability” (33). Grandin and Moore also address ways to help end a child’s bad habits, stretch them out of their comfort zones, and assist them to break out of chronic anxiety and a “don’t care” attitude.
One of the critical chapters in “The Loving Push” addresses the danger of compulsive electronic gaming and how it can turn kids on the spectrum into “media recluses”. The authors make a careful distinction between recreational and compulsive gaming. They work the reader through the ways gaming affects children’s’ brains, how game developers deliberately fashion games to get compulsive or addictive responses, why ASD kids are more vulnerable to these ploys, and what to do to help the children from being consumed. One of the key components to remediating compulsive gaming is developing authentic associations. As the authors note, relationships “with real people in real time can be the best replacement for compulsive gaming” (145).
“The Loving Push” is a simple read for parents and adults who are engaged with children, teens and young adults that are somewhere on the spectrum. But even parents with neurotypical children will find this volume fruitful. As a result of reading the chapter on compulsive gaming, my wife and I have initiated some important changes with our remaining children in our home. This is a book I highly recommend!
My thanks to Future Horizons and Dr. Debra Moore for the free copy of “The Loving Push” used for this review sent at my request. The assessments are mine given without restrictions or requirements (as per Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255).
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