With the recent release of the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the bible of psychiatric diagnoses, come new definitions of the learning disabilities many students experience. A number of new books may help prepare teachers for the challenging field of special education and demonstrate strategies for helping students with special needs succeed socially and academically.
The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum, by Temple Grandin and Richard Panek (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013). One of the world’s most well-known and accomplished adults with autism, Temple Grandin brings both science and heart to the conversation on autism in The Autistic Brain, her fifth book to date. Grandin, who described what it is like to be autistic in her groundbreaking memoir, Thinking in Pictures, now gives readers an account of the latest neurological developments in autism research. Weaving scientific understanding together with her personal narrative, Grandin argues that teaching children with autism must focus on encouraging their strengths rather than fixating on their weaknesses, and she questions the way in which autism is currently defined as a fixed and singular state. Yet another integral work on the subject of autism, Grandin’s book shows that there is no such thing as one “autistic brain.”
Developmental Screening in Your Community: An Integrated Approach for Connecting Children with Services, by Diane Bricker, Marisa Macy, Jane Squires, and Kevin Marks (Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co., 2013). The first step in learning how to teach students with special needs is diagnosing which children have special needs, and which kinds of special needs they have. In this book, the authors provide strategies to help communities establish a system for early detection of delays and disabilities. Six key components—having program goals, promoting community public awareness, implementing centralized contract and referral systems, using a developmental-behavioral screening system, following up, and making use of an ongoing program evaluation—can help communities more effectively and efficiently detect children’s special needs early on.
High School Transition that Works by Maryellen Daston, J. Erin Riehle, and Susie Rutkowski (Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co., 2013). For students with intellectual and developmental disabilities, making the transition from high school to the workplace can be difficult. Daston, Riehle, and Rutkowski’s book equips teachers with strategies to help prepare disabled students for this challenge. This guidebook, developed by the founders of Project SEARCH, provides guidance on teaching disabled students to market and develop their skills and breakdown obstacles to employment. The book also includes social skills activities, lesson plans on choosing internships, and case studies.
Social Skills Success for Students with Autism/Asperger’s: Helping Adolescents on the Spectrum to Fit In, by Fred Frankel and Jeffrey J. Wood (Jossey-Bass, 2013). While classroom lesson plans have an academic focus, the social environment of school is just as important for students. For educators who teach adolescent students with autism and autism spectrum disorders, the social component of school can be difficult to address: How can teachers teach sociability? Frankel and Wood—experts in the fields of friendship formation and anxiety management, according to the publisher—offer advice and lesson plans drawn from an evidence-based program addressing the social challenges faced by adolescents with autism spectrum disorders.
A Survival Guide for New Special Educators, by Bonnie S. Billingsley, Mary T. Brownell, Maya Israel, and Margaret L. Kamman (Jossey-Bass, 2013). This book offers new K-12 special educators a manual for preparing for the first day of school, becoming acclimated to a school, managing student behavior, and more.
Understanding and Managing Behaviors of Children with Psychological Disorders: A Reference for Classroom Teachers, edited by Jered B. Kolbert and Laura M. Crothers (Bloomsbury, 2013). Featuring sections outlining the characteristics of different psychological disorders and strategies on how to manage these behaviors in the classroom, Kolbert and Crothers’ reference book recognizes that not every teacher knows the ins and outs of every mental health and behavioral disorder. Their book provides comprehensive descriptions of psychological disorders such as attention-deficit/hyperactive disorder, depression, anxiety, and autism. Each chapter is written by an expert within that specific field.
A version of this news article first appeared in the BookMarks blog.