Choice and Structure for Children with Autism

Getting Through the Long Days of Quarantine

Non-Fiction - Parenting
98 Pages
Reviewed on 09/26/2020
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite

Choice and Structure for Children with Autism: Getting Through the Long Days of Quarantine by Colette McNeil is a timely non-fiction self-help guide for parents who find themselves at home with children that require a bit more energy and attention than others. McNeil offers readers suggestions on how to best manage the time and specific needs of home-bound children, circumventing issues that may be compounded by the boredom and isolation heightened during the unavoidable quarantine. This is a short but very concise book with coping recommendations ranging from the power of choice, wherein a child is given two or three options for play or stimulation to encourage a sense of agency, alternating options to avoid satiation and fixation, creating structured areas, and learning how to move between them, among other things.

Initially, when I picked up Choice and Structure for Children with Autism, I wasn't sure how much information I could really get from a book that is relatively compact. It was an unnecessary thought as Colette McNeil is the consummate pro at delivering the facts without any fluff. It was refreshing to feel like I was chatting with a friend, a narrative style that makes a reader immediately comfortable with the author. I also really liked how after each suggestion was made McNeil gives an example in the form of a story. Even though we all have children that relate in different ways, the similarities were close enough that every single case presented was one I could replicate with immediate effect. As a result, this is the first time I have read a book where I knew the author 'gets me'...or us, as a family. Very highly recommended.

K.C. Finn

Choice and Structure for Children with Autism: Getting Through the Long Days of Quarantine is a work of non-fiction in the parenting, advice, and guidance and supporting text sub-genres, and was penned by author Colette McNeil. As the title suggests, the work is aimed at parents, carers, and guardians of young people who are on the autistic spectrum, and especially homes in on this difficult time of staying at home and changing routines because of worldwide factors beyond our control. As such, the author provides information, guidance, and empathy as you work on improving your child’s focus, positive engagement with stimuli, and utilizing co-operation during playtimes.

Author Colette McNeil has provided some invaluable guidance in this well-crafted and jam-packed short guidebook. One of the things which I found especially helpful was its accepting and open tone, which encourages parents not to despair over normal difficulties which are exacerbated when children stay at home. The work is very well structured and organized so that we build upon different basic principles and ideas, leading to an overall enhancement of our understanding of choice and structure, and therefore allowing us as caregivers to deliver much more effective scenarios for children to enjoy their time at home and not get frustrated or upset. What results is a compassionate and useful guide that will provide much-needed help for parents of autistic children, but also the wider spectrum of children with more specific needs. Overall, I would highly recommend Choice and Structure for Children with Autism to those seeking more guidance at this time.

Edith Wairimu

Choice and Structure for Children with Autism: Getting Through the Long Days of Quarantine by Colette McNeil is a helpful guide that proposes ways for improving interaction with autistic children, especially during the current season as many families are staying home with limited opportunities to engage their children. While the current quarantine period poses difficulties for all children, McNeil explains that for children with autism, the unstructured environment presents more challenges since autistic children thrive in a highly structured and predictable environment. The work explains how choice and structure can be utilized to enhance productivity and interaction with autistic children. Chapters discuss how choices can be produced by introducing multiple opportunities, boredom, and disengagement in the context of satiation and fixation, the dance between space, energy, and time, and more.

I loved that Choice and Structure for Children with Autism by Colette McNeil puts forward simple, available strategies that anyone can utilize. In the sixth chapter, for instance, the work explores the use of visual cues such as printed material or the use of pictures on electronic devices to assist comprehension. Such cues are easily available around the home. The information is also practical and timely, especially during our current times. Each chapter is an in-depth exploration of the topics and stories of common scenarios are included. They are useful in illustrating and explaining the content. In the last chapter, helpful summaries of the chapters are included. They emphasize and bring attention to key information in the book. Choice and Structure for Children with Autism by Colette McNeil is an educative and handy guide for parents with autistic children, especially during the quarantine period.