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Ten Things Autistic Children and Students Wish You Knew

Ten Things

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Updated August 30, 2006

Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew, by Ellen Notbohm

Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew, by Ellen Notbohm

A few years ago, writer Ellen Notbohm wrote an article entitled "Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew." That article became an Internet phenomenon, and was reproduced on site after site. Its deceptively simple "ten things" list resonated with parents, therapists and educators across the board. In 2005, the article was expanded to become a full fledged book. Then, in 2006, Notbohm wrote a second book: "Ten Things Your Student with Autism Wishes You Knew."

Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew

This is one of those books that just hits an audience right where it lives. The "ten things" are simple and self-evident -- "I am first and foremost a child," for example -- but they strike an important chord.

Most parents of autistic children should have a look at this book, even if it's just to reaffirm their own intuitive knowledge. After all, even when we KNOW our child with autism doesn't MEAN to cause chaos and angst, it's hard to react appropriately as they slam the door for the umpteenth time. Notbohm's salty good humor, simple language and clear examples help parents keep perspective -- and remember how to smile.

Ten Things Your Student with Autism Wishes You Knew

Like Notbohm's first book, this book includes ten fairly self-evident truisms about children with autism. But while her first book is a tool for helping parents cope, smile, and remember to hug their children -- the second is more of a primer for educators who really shouldn't need it.

Nothing Notbohm says is untrue. Indeed, autistic children think differently. And teachers should figure out how to reach their students. But any teacher of autistic children who doesn't have this information available shouldn't be a teacher at all -- let alone a teacher of children with special needs.

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It's easy to see why NotBohm's first "Ten Things" book quickly made a name for itself. It's a bit tougher to see how the second book is going to have the same impact. It has a few good ideas for classroom use, but overall it's a reminder of what good teaching ought to be -- and a reprimand for teachers who don't truly understand that their role is both to teach and learn.

Perhaps the best use of the second book is as a holiday gift for special needs teachers -- from grateful or not-so-grateful parents. Is it a reward for work well done? Or a reminder that teaching autistic children requires all the basic teaching tools of patience, creativity, love -- and just a touch of humility?

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