Between Their World and Ours: Breakthroughs with Autistic Children

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Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Feb 09, Melissa Wilson rated it liked it. The chapter called "What to do" was helpful for me. How to teach children using storytelling, talking, etc. Clarissa rated it it was amazing Jul 03, Iamshadow rated it it was amazing May 16, Shanta rated it really liked it Nov 21, Skip Ebert rated it really liked it Mar 02, Christian rated it liked it Dec 19, David Layden rated it liked it Nov 08, Zosia Heldak rated it really liked it May 28, Anny rated it it was amazing May 29, Candace McGrath rated it liked it Jan 26, Aaron added it Feb 14, Ashley marked it as to-read Apr 11, Jessica marked it as to-read Jun 25, Colleen added it Jul 25, Herman Litt is currently reading it Oct 30, Chanel marked it as to-read Aug 11, Carrie marked it as to-read Aug 29, Inga marked it as to-read Mar 29, Melanie Rampling added it Mar 29, Luis Camacho is currently reading it Nov 01, Annie S marked it as to-read Jan 18, Diane H marked it as to-read May 29, In contrast, Zelan states that responsive parents are the autist's most important asset.

Zelan demonstrates how the children are well aware that they are different, and the disdain of other children is apparent to them. Therefore therapy also must address these feelings of inadequacy.

She demonstrates in compelling detail how autists are lumped together diagnostically, and thereby deprived of many opportunities to develop. She discusses tests used in diagnosis that she finds problematic, misleading, and invalid. She suggests it would be preferable to estimate IQ by behavior, qualitative means, or observation.

The author illustrates this with her own vision: Diagnosing these young people does not do justice to their individual personalities. The narratives in this book illustrate a psychotherapeutic approach aimed not only at luring young autists out of their often impenetrable isolation but also at convincing them that they are worthy of the people world. Her plea is that they have a future and that they are able to develop progressively, although not precisely on the normal timetable.

Psychotherapy Can Offer Young Autists What Behavioral Therapies Cannot

Other chapters continue this case study and those of 8 other autists, taken from her notes of intensive psychotherapy. It is a summation of everything she has learned in those four decades of deeply reflected upon clinical experience. Intriguingly, these chapters are not arranged as individual case studies. Instead Zelan has undergone the labor-intensive and pedagogically more enlightening task of arranging all 9 cases thematically. She intersects parts of the case studies very effectively to show the contrasts and commonalities of each child in regard to the stages of emergence from autistic isolation that can be stimulated by therapy.

She begins with the earliest task of making a therapeutic connection, and then proceeds in the order of therapy tasks accomplished. She addresses the development of perspective-taking, emergence of sociability and reflection to ability to take risks to develop new relationships.

Between Their World and Ours: Breakthroughs with Autistic Children by Karen Zelan

These case studies are informative as to how to deal with the extreme sensitivity of the autist, and to make a connection with him despite his need to protect himself from overwhelming stimuli by withdrawal. They are rich in examples of how to show a child that he is liked without overwhelming him.

The case studies clearly demonstrate how some autists think. Zelan provides many concrete examples of how a therapist can respond. She purposefully lets the reader in on her inner dialogue on what to say, why or why not, what she tries, and how it goes over with the client. When she does make an interpretation, she reports whether it is successful or not; and demonstrates how she can also learn from being wrong.


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It is a pleasure to read this open retracing of the process of therapy; it is more inspiring for real life than to read a case study in which all interpretations are correct, and received with validation. Ours is an art in which it takes courage to keep trying when one can only be right some of the time. This is especially important with autists, who are sensitive about mind control, as well as more empowering for other clients.

The author documents how the therapy relationship can make it possible for the autist to be willing to reach out to others.


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  7. She explains To have a true, sensate experience of self, of feeling REAL, one must reckon with the emotional reactions to oneself of an attuned other. When the child is thus motivated, and taking the initiative, they are far more receptive than when arbitrarily assigned to "social skills lessons. In order to inspire him to become proactive on his own behalf, we need to help him deal with all the epithets, which have been thrown at him by peers, reified by diagnosis, and hurtfully internalized.

    Whereas Bettelheim had hypothesized that the children feared for their lives, Zelan explains that these children fear being autistic, with all that implies. Therefore to inspire hope that they can become different, i.

    Between Their World and Ours: Breakthroughs with Autistic Children (Book Review)

    As in regard to her critique of diagnosis as currently practiced, Zelan is incensed at this assertion because it underestimates autists in a way that can lead to severe impoverishment of expectations and designed programs. It seems she has inserted this theoretical chapter here in the middle of the case studies, because the reader has now read some of her evidence that autists do have a theory of mind, and she can refer to it in her argument.

    Thus informed, the reader will understand the significance of further evidence in the last two clinical case chapters that follow. Explicit resources are suggested, such as Autistic Behavior Checklists, including the addresses of where to send for these resources. Parents are advised to contest the evaluation and seek a second opinion if they feel that it underestimates their child.

    The author discusses the importance of non-verbal communication; and she coaches parents on how to respond in such a way as to build a bridge to later verbal communication.