Kate E. Reynolds

  • Review of Party Planning for Children and Teens on the Autism Spectrum

    When I first glanced at the title of this book I was

    not excited. However, it surprised me

    enormously, and I was gripped from the outset.

    Reynolds makes it clear that she is writing

    from a familial platform (she has a son with

    autism) and her honest and self-deprecating

    approach I found to be refreshing. She recognises

    that social events like parties can often expose an

    autistic child in a cruel and harmful way, and her

    aim is to mitigate any damage in this respect. Her

    desire also, is to create an informed way of

    thinking for the party organiser, again, to

    mitigate any damage for the autistic party guest.

    Reynolds conveys information in a way that

    only an “autie mother” can. Her empathy for

    autie mothers and their children everywhere is

    clear, and is perceived as warm and tender. She

    doesn’t patronize, but instead she does what us

    autie mothers love best – she shares her best tips

    and practice. And by gosh, the advice is good –

    such as giving an autistic child in nearmeltdown

    mode at a party “resistive sucking”, in

    other words, a lollipop or straw and drink to help

    focus energy and de-stress.

    Reynolds’ book has good flow and structure

    throughout. She begins by stating statistics and

    the “triad of impairments” (Wing & Gould, 1979),

    so to apprise the unknowledgeable reader, but

    textually, this section is brief and done in such a

    friendly way that those of us who do know this

    information inside-out do not have to stifle a

    yawn. Sensory processing and the difficulties

    connected thereto she describes well – one of the

    best pieces of writing on the subject I have

    ever read – and in a nutshell too, pointing out

    to the reader that something so simple as choice

    of food, music and clothing has the potential

    to “adversely affect their relationship with the

    social world”.

    The fact that autism is a spectrum is pointed

    out very early on in the book, and explores the

    various different autism classifications, which

    gives the book a very welcoming feel – she

    doesn’t sideline or discount anyone. The autistic

    child who cannot speak is considered along with

    the high-functioning autistics: “Avoid games

    that rely on verbal skills, unless it is a chant that

    they do together, or you will disadvantage certain

    kids and increase the chances of boredom and

    discomfort, which could precede emotional

    outbursts or other negative behaviours.”

    Reynolds is one of those authors who “gets it”

    concerning autism and while I wait with baited

    breath for anything else this author might write

    in the future, I would definitely recommend this

    book to parents and professionals alike.

    To sum up, this title should be a bookshelf

    staple for the autie household.

    l Elaine Nicholson, chief executive officer,

    Action for Asperger’s


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