Book Review: Autism Everyday

Alyson Beytien is an Autism Consultant and the mother of 3 boys who are all on the autism spectrum. In other words, she is not only an ‘expert’, but a superwoman!  An autism specialist, Ms. Beytien’s collection of essays (originally published in Autism Spectrum Quarterly magazine) give parents and teachers practical strategies for living with, and teaching, children with autism.

As with all diagnoses, those diagnosed with autism range from low to high functioning levels, and absolutely every variation in between. An informative and insightful read, Ms. Beytien broaches the subject with humour and anecdotes from her family’s daily routines and challenges.  From her son’s obsession with trains to the decision to send one of their sons away to school, she shares the emotional roller coaster that she and her husband ride daily.

A fairly quick read (thank you!), Beytien avoids unending medical jargon and includes short lists of practical strategies at the end of each chapter.   Broaching the subject from the perspective of the parent, Beytien  shares her families daily life challenges with the reader, giving us not only her professional insight but (more importantly) her insight as  parent of 3 boys living on the spectrum.

Whether you have a child diagnosed with Autism, or you work with children who live with autism, this book is essential for your personal reference library.   For this teacher, Beytien has passed on some golden strategies that I am excited to try in my classes and has given me a deeper insight into the daily challenges of families experiencing Autism alongside their children.

Author:   Jacqui Davidson

Book Review: Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees

Celebrating dance-ability!

First, let’s be clear – this writer loves giraffes!   Perhaps because we have height in common, or their graceful gate as they trim the trees or gallop across the plain, or their quiet and observing manner.  Whatever the reason, they are amazing creatures.

In Giraffes Can’t Dance we are welcomed into the ‘secret’ world of the animal kingdom where the animals gather to party in forest.   Naturally, its a dance party!  Waltzing Warthogs and Cha-cha-ing Chimps are among the many  getting their groove on and when it is Geralds’ (the giraffe) turn, his clumsiness is found to be entirely hysterical.   A new friend helps Gerald to find his groove to his own unique music and teaches the reader that everyone CAN dance!

The text is rhythmical and precise.  the colours are bold and beautiful, and the drawings are beautiful and have a movement all their own.

Recently I shared this book with a group of boys who happen to be a part of an Autism [ASD] group.  I hesitated to read the book as they are a bit older and are just at that stage where they might think its too ‘babyish’ for them.  To my surprise, they were captivated by the drawings of the animals, enjoyed the rhythmical flow of the text,  and excited by the notion that Gerald found when his own way to groove in the forest.    We then listened to three different pieces of music, all with different qualities, and explored how we would move to that particular piece.   The result?

Absolute Magic.  Even the student who usually shies away from exploring movement found his own groove in that class.

Thanks Gerald.

Inclusive and Accessible Dance.

One dimension of AD4L’s focus is inclusivity – finding and creating opportunities for providing inclusive, accessible dance.  Each individual, with or without a disability, is unique.   When individuality and disability is combined together a unique perspective within the disability is created – making it challenging to find the best way to connect with the individual.   To expand our knowledge on the subject information has been sought from various organizations such as Barrier Free Manitoba and TED.

Here are two excellent videos on living with Autism Spectrum Disorder and an interesting video on Music and the Mind, each gives us a unique perspective into living within a disability.

My Autism and Me

TED talk:  The world needs all kinds of minds (Autism and Temple Grandin)

TED talk:  Music and the Mind


Wishing you wellness in life, and dance!