Understanding the Challenge of NO for Children with Autism
MSI Press (2018)
Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Reader Views (10/2020)
“Understanding the Challenge of No for Children with Autism: Improving Communication, Increasing Positivity, Enhancing Relationships,” by Colette McNeil, is an amazing self-help book that explores what concepts and meanings the word “No” can have in the daily lives of children with Autism. Designed to improve relationships and communication, this little book is packed with real-life scenarios and advice to help lessen the tension and burden of the word “no” for children, parents, caregivers, teachers, counselors, relatives, and other significant people in the child’s world.
The main idea of the book is better communication and breaking down the word “no” into manageable pieces. Children with Autism need patience, understanding, and a tailored form of communication; and McNeil is a phenomenal source of information, technique, and experience. This author has the uncanny ability to simplify complex ideas, so that almost anyone can understand them and carry them out.
Children with Autism often are frustrated when they hear the word “no”, and don’t understand where the parent or other adult is coming from. This frustration can, in turn, cause frustration for the parent or adult, which creates an unfortunate cycle of miscommunications. “Meltdowns” often happen because of these miscommunications. Many adults and relatives of children with Autism have no expectations of improvement or aren’t aware that a change in communication can lead to a happier child, less stress, and more productive relations.
Learning about the word “no” is a social skill every child needs to learn. Accepting “no” is never easy for a child–(even for some adults!)–but can be especially hard for a child on the spectrum who is more comfortable with patterns and repetitive behaviors. But as the author explains, simple changes in language and word choice can make all the difference and improve communication. McNeil wisely uses anecdotal scenarios to illustrate her points and teaches readers how to better use the word “no”. These scenes with Corey, Machoa, Talia, and the other children make the concepts highly relatable, and enjoyable, and are my favorite parts of the book. The communication strategies McNeil offers seem so simple, yet most people never think about them, even parents of children with Autism.
“Understanding the Challenge of No for Children with Autism: Improving Communication, Increasing Positivity, Enhancing Relationships,” by Colette McNeil, will immediately open new pathways of communication and is a little gem that should be in every parent, caregiver, and professional’s library.