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…..”
Point 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“.
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