Health Magazine

Book Review: What Your Child on the Spectrum Really Needs by Jenna Gensic

By Gbollard @gbollard

What your Child on the Spectrum Really Needs: Advice from 12 Autistic Adults.

For Autistic People Everywhere. May Your Voices Be Heard

by Jenna Gensic

Book Review: What your Child on the Spectrum Really Needs by Jenna Gensic

This is a book review that I really should have done about eight months ago. I wanted to be able to do this book justice but it's just so diverse and informative that I don't think that any review I write will really describe the breadth of it.

The book is only 115 pages long but it's A4 sized and absolutely packed with information. 

Jenna Gensic is a freelance writer who blogs over at Learning from Autistics and she frequently publishes interviews with autistic people. As I write this, she's just published Interview 147. It's an incredible achievement. 

At the beginning of the book, Jenna talks about her experience learning from the narrow experience and perception doctors and her discovery of the world of advocacy. I've often said that while doctors have medical training, they see an average of around 35 patients per week for 30 minutes each (and that's very conservative, in reality it's much less). This gives them quite a limited experience compared to someone who has to live and breathe autism every second of their life. 

Autistic advocates have an untapped wealth of knowledge and Jenna taps into that in this book. 


The book covers a lot of diverse topics including;
  • The ideas of "fixing children" and hiding autism.
  • Social integration
  • Establishing safe environments
  • Executive functioning
  • Sensory processing
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
  • Correcting behavior and ethical challenges
  • Friendship, sexuality and relationships
  • Communication and Empathy
  • The workplace
  • Understanding Limitations
  • Advocacy, bullying and diagnosis
The chapters are easy to read and contain reflection questions at the end. 

The Interviews

Jenna is a very good interviewer who really listens to her subjects and draws great insights from the conversations. Her insights often appear in gray boxes throughout the interview and can add a different point of view. 
The political standpoint that Jenna takes is a cautious one, encouraging person-first language, with explanations why, and gender neutral terms. This makes the book suitable for anyone. 

Target Audience

The book finishes with specific information directed at parents, and other information directed at autistic people. There's also a whole chapter on teaching self-advocacy. 
This book is directed at people on the spectrum as well as carers and parents. It covers a wide range of topics and is relevant to parents of school-aged children and above. It has a lot to offer and you'll find that some chapters become more relevant as you or your children reach specific ages and life-milestones. 
This is easily one of the best books you could get for a holistic approach to to life on the spectrum.
What your Child on the Spectrum Really Needs by Jenna Gensic is available from Amazon, the Book Depository and Barnes and Nobel.
--Honesty Clause: I was provided with a copy of this book free of charge, as I'm one of the 12 interviewees.

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