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Autism and the Family

Understanding and Supporting Parents and Siblings

Kate E. Fiske (Author, Rutgers University)

With a Foreword by Tristram Smith

Overview | Contents

Ready-to-implement resources and approaches for effective professional care in school and clinical settings.

The reverberations of autism spectrum disorders among parents and siblings can be complex. Parents may grapple with the impact of their child's initial diagnosis, wrestle with the tension between their professional ambitions and family obligations, and labor to maintain a healthy union with their partners. Brothers and sisters may be given less attention, asked to assume a more adult role than they feel ready for, or strive for meaningful connection and communication with their sibling and parents.

Although the energy of clinicians, teachers, and other professionals working with individuals with autism spectrum disorder is often focused intensively on the child who is diagnosed, the practitioner can also be an invaluable resource for the child's family.

Drawing upon clinical research and firsthand family interviews, this book helps clinicians understand the experiences of parents and siblings of a child with ASD from the time of diagnosis through adulthood. It provides clear recommendations for sensitive, informed professional support. Step-by-step in each chapter, Fiske elucidates such vital subjects as:

  • Understanding the experience of diagnosis
  • Recognizing patterns of parent stress over time
  • Appreciating and navigating the effects of ASD on relationships between parents
  • Involving and providing support for siblings
  • Integrating grandparents and other extended family in care and treatment
  • Understanding a family's culture
  • Identifying and developing effective coping strategies
  • Building a strong rapport with parents and family
  • Guiding parents in the treatment of autism

And many more, including key takeaways for assisting families in managing feelings of grief and guilt, navigating support options, treatment resources, and related financial concerns, and calibrating the division of labor in the home. 

Autism and the Family supplies all the foundations necessary for professionals to understand the full impact of ASD on the child, siblings, and parents and cultivate an empathic, supportive approach to treatment for the entire family.

Book Details

  • Hardcover
  • February 2017
  • ISBN 978-0-393-71055-7
  • 6.5 × 9.6 in / 336 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide

Endorsements & Reviews

“Through powerful insights, Fiske takes readers into the worlds of autistic families with unparalleled tenderness, clinical wisdom and a powerful message: children with ASD exist within a family that is as much in need of treatment as the child himself.” — Psych Central

“Autism awareness has dramatically increased in recent years, appearing on bumper stickers, in debates, and as feel-good news stories. But little attention has been paid to those that actually care for people with ASD: the families. Autism and the Family is a fresh and vital corrective. Fiske investigates topics that impact ASD families but are rarely discussed outside inner circles, including the grief that can accompany diagnosis, the impact of ASD on relationships and careers, and how to support siblings and parents. This book is a necessary read for those working in the field and those parents that depend on them. Rarely have I felt such a sense of kinship and "finally!" as I did reading Autism and the Family. This is a book I will keep in close reach.” — Alysia Abbott, award-winning author, journalist, and mother of a boy with ASD

Autism and the Family delivers refreshingly new perspectives on the collateral effects of autism spectrum disorder. With case study material seamlessly interwoven with scholarly research, this book speaks to families, friends, and professionals in the lives of children and young adults with autism. Most importantly, it is like a "trip advisor" for the many families in immediate need of the right educational direction, as well as helpful glimpses at what lies ahead of them down the road.” — Jan Blacher, PhD, Distinguished Professor and UC Presidential Chair, Graduate School of Education, University of California, Riverside

“A comprehensive yet accessible look at the complex family systems of children with autism, addressing their stressors, struggles, hopes, dreams, successes, and failures. This book should be required reading for educators, behavior analysts, speech pathologists, psychologists, and anyone serious about improving the lives of individuals with autism and supporting the families who love them.” — Peter Gerhardt, EdD, Executive Director, The EPIC School

“Dr. Fiske has provided a unique and vital perspective on families of children with autism. Drawing on clinical experience, interviews with family members, and international research, this excellent book reinforces a crucial point: children with autism exist within a family and cultural context. It is also very helpful to be reminded throughout that although family members face challenges, they also have positive experiences raising a child with autism. The "take away" messages for practitioners in each chapter usefully complement the core messages of the book.” — Richard Hastings, PhD, Cerebra Chair of Family Research, University of Warwick, UK

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