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New Books Offer Families Tips to Overcome Autism Challenges for Success in Mainstream Settings

Washington, DC – Families of children with autism face challenges in helping their child navigate school and social life. To address these challenges, autism experts from the Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders (CASD) at Children’s National Health System recently published two books, School Success for Kids with High-Functioning Autism (Prufrock Press Inc. 2014), and Solving Executive Function Challenges: Simple Ways to Get Kids with Autism Unstuck and On Target (Brookes Publishing 2014).

“Right now, the most effective treatments for autism use a combination of adapting the environment and expectations to the child’s needs and strengths and behavioral techniques to teach new skills,” says Lauren Kenworthy, PhD, co-author of both books and Director of CASD. “Some of the most effective and best established treatments for autism happen in schools.”

School Success for Kids with High-Functioning Autism was written as a guide for parents to help their school-aged children succeed in the classroom, and Solving Executive Function Challenges focuses specifically on executive function, one of the key obstacles to positive outcomes in autism.

Solving Executive Function Challenges teaches parents, therapists, and teachers “very specific cognitive behavioral strategies to help their kids be more successful in mainstream settings like school, the scouts, or a family reunion,” says Dr. Kenworthy. This strategy is also known as the Unstuck and On Target (UOT) program and was developed by CASD and the Ivymount School.  

Laura Anthony, PhD, co-author of the Unstuck books, says UOT offers two main benefits: it offers tips to help those with autism function best in mainstream settings, and shows parents and teachers how to use simple scripts to help children on the autism spectrum be more flexible and goal-oriented.

Research from CASD has shown that when the UOT therapy is used, children in school are better at following teachers’ directions, have a greater ability to make transitions or changes, and are less negative. Unlike other therapies, the program was designed specifically with input from parents, children, teachers, and other parties that might implement it.

In much the same way, Solving Executive Function Challenges came about from a joint collaboration between the team at CASD, the Ivymount School, and parent-advocate, Lisa Greenman, JD. CASD’s Parent Advisory Committee also reviewed the book and provided feedback.

School Success for Kids with High-Functioning Autism, on the other hand, provides parents and teachers with information on how to ask for help, how to advocate for their child, and how to collaborate with the schools. In School Success’ foreword, Temple Grandin praises the authors’ emphasis on using a child’s strengths and special interests to motivate success.

“Children with autism do the best when people understand those strengths and work with them,” says Dr. Kenworthy.

School Success is co-authored by Dr. Kenworthy, Stephen M. Silverman, PhD, a former school psychologist in the Montgomery County Public Schools system in Maryland, and Rich Weinfield, Director and Founder of the Weinfeld Education Group.

The books are available online through their respective publishers’ websites or on Amazon.

Contact: Emily Hartman or Caitlyn Camacho at 202-476-4500.


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