Developing Leisure Time Skills For Persons With Autism

Developing Leisure Time Skills For Persons With Autism

Structured Playtime Activities with Valuable Support Strategies for Adult is written by Phyllis Coyne, Colleen Nyberg and Mary Lou Vandenburg

This is a review of the book that’s worth the read before you decide to buy:

The first thing to be aware of, when attempting to absorb information and instruction from this book, is that this book is better used as a reference manual rather than a “how-to” book for parents to read through and implement. In the Introduction, it reads:

“The purpose of this book is to provide a comprehensive, structured approach for individuals with autism to develop leisure interests and skills for school, home, and community. It provides practical information and guidelines to enable individuals with autism to develop competencies for choosing and engaging in enjoyable leisure activities. Parents, other caregivers and professionals will find the materials easy to use.

This book is unique in the manner in which it considers the personal preferences of individuals with autism and moves them toward a more meaningful and enjoyable leisure…..”

Developing Leisure Time Skills for Persons with AutsimPoint one: while the materials provided in this manual may be easy to use (and I believe they are), they are not practical for every autistic person, in this reviewer’s humble opinion. The authors state over and over again that the materials are appropriate for small children with autism, all the way through to adults with autism. They are not. The charts, forms, activity cards and stories provided are appropriate for those people who have already had prior history of successful use of these types of materials. It would not be appropriate for 2-4 year old children with autism, who cannot follow written instructions or keep themselves focused.

Point two: I do agree that the material is effective for maintaining an established routine; again, this would be most helpful in children old enough to understand a routine based on charts, cards and stories, or for the older teens and adults this manual seems to target most. NOT for small children, or for children unfamiliar with this approach. And not for parents who are attempting to introduce social stories and/or activity cards for the first time.

Point three: unless you are familiar with the manual, it is difficult to decipher. There is not an index or glossary for this book. So, if you are not quite sure what you might be looking for, it’s confusing and difficult to find appropriate material through the table of contents.

Point four: While most books offer at least a short bio for their author(s) stating their experience, credentials, and a small picture, this manual does not. Instead, in one small paragraph, we get:

“The authors have each worked in the field of autism for over fifteen years. This experience, along with backgrounds in therapeutic recreation, special education, regular education, and psychology, provide the foundation for the development of concepts and approaches presented in this book. We hope you find them useful.”

I ran a google search to find more about these authors. The search was futile. This reviewer feels that not providing author info in a book is a disservice to those reading and studying it, who may want to learn more from the same authors in other publications they may have written or contributed to.

Point five: There is an extensive list – 44 titles, to be exact- of reference books that were reviewed by the authors in the writing of this manual. The bulk of them were written in the 1980s, though there are three that were written during the 1990s. It’s always a good things to have lists of more books pertinent to the subject to use as reference when researching. I love that this has been provided in this manual.


For me, this book is less than helpful. I felt as though I was being berated as a parent while reading through it. It fuels feelings of inadequacy for parents who have not used their method of cards and charts, and invokes feelings of panic and unease, by using a great deal of examples of parents who are overwhelmed, frustrated, and ready to give up. I don’t disagree that parents feel this way; in fact, I know they do. However, I think the point could have been made in a better way. The manual is clinical in nature, and feels like an infomercial for “fixing” autism by using this method.

Show me a case study. Show me results that were favorable to your method when used in home therapy sessions, schools, or group homes. Do not tell me that bad things will happen if I don’t xerox your charts and follow your activity cards to the letter. For example, don’t tell me I will wish for just five minutes to set the table in peace, because my child isn’t able to keep himself entertained with cards and charts that tell him to pinch a ball of clay into a bowl, bake it, and fill it with stuff.

If I were rating this book with stars, on a scale of 1-5- 1 being lowest score and 5 being highest- I give it a 2. All the words were spelled correctly, and there was a lot of information. Otherwise, it was a heavy handed approach to a hard sell for their method. I am not impressed.

You can purchase Developing Leisure Time Skills for Persons with Autism from Future Horizons for 15% OFF when you check out with the code “SPECIAL“.


[ts_fab authorid=”8″ tabs=”bio,twitter,facebook,googleplus,latest_posts”]

By | 2012-12-11T07:00:11+00:00 December 11th, 2012|Categories: Books, Resources|Tags: , , , , |19 Comments

About the Author:


  1. Kim December 11, 2012 at 7:09 pm - Reply

    That sounds like one book I won’t be purchasing, or reading, for that matter. I figure we have enough to feel guilty about already without having “experts” tell us the many ways we are failing our children.

    Thanks for the indepth review!

  2. Mary Mirvis December 23, 2012 at 9:42 am - Reply

    It’s so hard to raise children with special needs as it is, shame some people only make it harder.

  3. Julie Wood December 23, 2012 at 11:26 am - Reply

    I agree with you about how this book is unrealistic in helping raise an autistic child. We need to have easy and supportive measures in place, not a tedious, dry approach that looks like no fun!

  4. Bobbie Gilliam December 23, 2012 at 1:48 pm - Reply

    This is awsome, and I commend the ones who are helping and hope they have more programs to help out.

  5. ANN*H December 23, 2012 at 8:06 pm - Reply

    Well judging by the title of the book I would think it would be worth reading. But you as a mom who has children with special needs sees the down side of the book which I think is a good think as you are a mom and lots of things out there are just trials or such. Its hard to actually know unless your a parent what really works for your child. Thanks so much.

  6. Lisa R December 23, 2012 at 8:31 pm - Reply

    wow, i thought you were gonna give it a thumbs up when I clicked the post but so happy you tell it like it is

    sibabe64 at ptd dot net

  7. Denise M December 24, 2012 at 12:51 pm - Reply

    I have a cousin that who is autistic, and it’s not as bad as it used to be. They have found new things. He is a really bright kid.

  8. Jennifer Johansen December 24, 2012 at 6:48 pm - Reply

    I dislike books that are heavy handed on the guilt trip! Loved your review.

  9. Theresa Reed December 24, 2012 at 10:08 pm - Reply

    Doesn’t sound like to many people are very interested in this book. Thanks for sharing your views on it.

  10. Andy Grice December 25, 2012 at 1:25 am - Reply

    Enjoyed the review,I had a friend back on the east coast that needed a book when she had her first child.All the children she had was born with Autism.I would help her out with her children and got her info on how to help them with their school work.

  11. essijay December 25, 2012 at 9:24 pm - Reply

    thanks for your honest review. i have a child with Asperger’s and he manages his free time fairly well, but has occasional meltdowns if something unpredictable comes up. i wasn’t really planning on reading the book, but now i know i’m definitely not!

  12. krista grandstaff December 28, 2012 at 11:30 am - Reply

    Thank you for the thorough review… I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment…I want to know more about the authors, I want more studies showing the effectiveness, and I want info that is more up to date…a lot has changed since the 80’s as far as autism goes!!!

  13. krystel December 29, 2012 at 3:02 pm - Reply


  14. Trent December 29, 2012 at 7:31 pm - Reply

    I’m very glad books like this are made and out out to the public.

  15. Mary Kidd January 1, 2013 at 5:07 am - Reply

    Great information. Thank you for sharing. 🙂

  16. Jennifer Kreisler January 1, 2013 at 7:47 pm - Reply

    So many children with autism have such differrent needs…. if this book helps a handful of children and families then people need to read and try it.

  17. Aphrodisiastes January 2, 2013 at 10:20 am - Reply

    Great review. I would like to see case study and results of this method.

  18. tammy saylor January 2, 2013 at 11:42 am - Reply

    Thank you for this review my grandson has autism and we try to find any info that will be helpful to him.

  19. Bird January 11, 2013 at 8:53 pm - Reply

    thanks for the heads up Caryn, great review 🙂

Leave A Comment