OAARSN Book Review

Aiding the Vision
By Janice I Adams 
Family Support & Resource Network: Chatham-Kent 2002
Reviewed by Jan Cooper

How often have you sat down with a case manager, psychologist, teacher, doctor etc. and they ask you to describe your child’s skills?  Social skills, communication skills, life skills, independent and work-related skills; the list seems almost endless, as do the answers.  There is no way you could hope to remember it all, even on a good day.  If your child is about to launch himself off your doctor’s bookshelf, the answers will escape you even faster!  Parents with autistic children typically have huge binders filled with reports and case notes, and organizing all that information into a coherent source of information for your support team can be a daunting task. We know that information can change.  So how do you keep up without getting swamped?  I suggest getting a copy of Aiding the Vision.

Janice Adams is a parent of a disabled child and professional working with similar families who created this book as an inventory tool.  In order to develop an effective plan for the individual, you need to know his or her skill levels in a variety of areas.  An inventory checklist is a good way to get a realistic picture of their current level of performance and future needs.  Once this is accomplished, the ‘team’ can set goals and determine strategies that will ensure the best possible outcome.  Janice stresses that you must “choose only a few goals at a time and set up reasonable time frames, in which to revisit them” (p.1).  While I talk about this book as a useful tool for parents with children with autism, it is equally valuable for those who are planning for the future of a child who is transitioning out of school.   The same holds true for the adult and/or his family that are looking to make important decisions about life changes.

The skills lists are quick and easy to check off, providing a good visual chart for others to review easily.  The lists could also serve as away of charting progress or regression of skills.  The inventory checklists include social skills/non-verbal communication, living skills and chores, personal care, and leisure and recreation.  As the child moves through school, one of the questions for parents and teachers is: “What will adulthood look like for this individual?"  Will it involve day programs, employment or perhaps a combination of the two?  With this question in mind, Janice included a Play/leisure skills checklist that she says are precursors to the workplace and independent living.  “Skills related to the workplace and independent living need to be nurtured and developed long before the individual becomes a teen” (p.16).

In the next section, Janice addresses a critical issue: changes or transition.  In this chapter she demonstrates how the use of videos and photos can be incorporated into a transition portfolio to aid everyone in helping the individual navigate new situations.  There are checklists for types of changes that may cause distress so you can best determine what kinds of things you would include in videos or photo albums. 

Because these sheets are useful for individual transitioning from High School to the community, assessing potential barriers is a crucial step in planning for the future.  Understanding the barriers is necessary if you are to “incorporate a best practices approach in order to try and overcome them” (p.30).  This section not only provides good checklists but many useful strategies for overcoming communication, personal, social, physical, sensory and behavioral barriers. 

There is a special section for those with communication difficulties, examples of how to apply modifications in a variety of settings and a good “Know Your Individual” checklist.

The book ends with pages to be used in creating a Profile Binder for personal and team data.  It covers personal, school, work, a summary for the older individuals, motivators, adaptive aids and functional skills.  There are examples of completed worksheets at the back of the book.  All the checklists are reproducible and “to be used directly in the classroom and by parents or caregivers” (Janice Adams).

This is definitely a ‘book of lists’ but presented in a way that I’m sure that anyone reading it would find something that would be useful and informative.  It can be used at all stages of life and I think that would make it a valuable addition to your family resource library.

Aiding the Vision may be ordered for $30 from Family Support & Resource Network, 143 Wellington Street West, Suite 104, Chatham, Ontario, N7M 1J5. For more about books by Janice Adams, visit http://www.adamspublications.com/

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