More Than Hope, For Young Children On The Autism Spectrum describes powerful intervention strategies to change areas of early child development most impacted by autism. With the specialized knowledge of Dr. Tanya Paparella, a leading expert with over 20 years of autism intervention and director of the UCLA childhood autism program, the book takes each significant area of development and explains why children with autism learn differently. It then provides step-by-step intervention strategies to develop communication, social interaction, and normal behavior. The teaching strategies are known to work, they are practical, and can be used in everyday activities. This book offers parents, care givers, and professionals the opportunity to do more than just hope for a child's successful future; it directly empowers them by providing critical knowledge and intervention tools towards long-lasting benefits for each child and their family. More Than Hope, For Young Children On The Autism Spectrum is easy to read, yet powerful in its simplicity and depth.
Why is this book unique?
“If your young child has autism or an autism spectrum disorder the absolute best thing you can do is be treated by Dr. Paparella and her team at UCLA. If you cannot make that happen then you must read every word of this book. More Than Hope will guide you and your child through a very practical and effective journey. You will see dramatic results.”
Dr. David Feinberg, MD, MBA, President University of California Los Angeles Health System, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, Los Angeles, USA
“Dr. Tanya Paparella's guidance was absolutely instrumental in helping my child become diagnosis-free. Now Tanya's priceless expertise is available to all families in a content-rich, yet very accessible how-to book. What sets this book apart from the others is its exceptional clarity in communicating powerful information. Using this book, parents see that success is manageable! Now, as a parent-trainer myself, I recommend this book as the essential, indispensable guide for parents seeking help for their young child.”
Elizabeth Spalter Iino, MSW, LCSW, Parent and Clinical Social Worker, Vienna, Austria
“Brandon’s progress has exceeded even my highest expectations. It feels like, after an almost 3 year infancy Brandon has finally become a real little boy.”
Dr. Lori E. Holt, Ph.D., ABPP-CN, Parent and Assistant Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry, UCLA, USA
“Eli’s gains have astounded us. We will be forever grateful.”
Crystal Weinstein, Parent, Los Angeles, USA
“More Than Hope is an intelligent and practical guide, loaded with compassion, which readers will find immensely and, more importantly, immediately useful. Dr. Paparella’s advice focuses on empowering parents and caregivers of young children with autism with the hands-on skills necessary to positively contribute to their child’s development, and the resulting book is a treasure. As a parent of a child on the autism spectrum, I wholeheartedly recommend it as a must read.”
Regina Salathé, Parent, Tokyo, Japan
“Finally, a book filled with easy to read language and encouraging information for parents entering into the world of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Dr. Paparella’s experience allows her to empathetically address the apprehensive parent’s concerns and struggles as well as deliver the practical tools necessary to begin the journey into understanding and helping their child. This book is a must-have guide for parents and early childhood professionals alike.”
Heather Marenda, M.S., CCC-SLP, Speech and Language Pathologist, Los Angeles, USA
“I would have loved something like this in my boys’ early diagnosis stage before we went to ECPHP!”
Sonia G., Parent, Los Angeles, USA
“The methods described in this book not only explain how differently our kids process information, but how we can use different methods to reach them. I have used them, and anyone who knew my son a year ago, can see the difference.”
Aline N. Osime, Parent, Kigali, Rwanda
“I was lucky enough to have worked with Dr. Tanya Paparella and her colleagues at UCLA who taught me almost everything I know about early intervention in children with ASD. Now parents and caregivers reading this book will have the benefit of Dr. Paparella’s knowledge delivered in a clear, comprehensive, and tremendously supportive how to guide that explains what autism is and how parents can provide the essentials of early intervention every day. Of course I wish every parent of a child with ASD could be face to face with Tanya Paparella, but this book provides a terrific alternative. For every parent, the diagnosis of ASD is a journey and I highly recommend this book as your guide.”
Dr. Sarah Spence, MD, Ph.D., Pediatric Neurologist, Children's Hospital Boston, Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School, USA
“An invaluable resource for parents of a suspected or newly diagnosed child on the autism spectrum. It encourages and empowers parents to be proactive and start building a foundation for future learning and social interactions. Wonderfully clear in content and presentation!”
Dr. Janis Golob, Psy.D., Certified School Psychologist, New Jersey, USA
“More Than Hope is an invaluable guide for parents, teachers, and paraprofessionals concerned with young children suspect of, or being diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. Dr. Paparella delineates clearly the major areas of concern for young children on the spectrum and then provides concrete interventions, derived from research and validated clinically over 20 years, reflecting behavioral and developmental approaches. This book will empower parents to assist their child directly and to evaluate alternative services recommended or being provided for their child.”
Distinguished Professor Emeritus Donald L. MacMillan, Ph.D., Graduate School of Education, University of California Riverside, USA
“More Than Hope is an invaluable resource for parents of children on the autism spectrum. In addition to clear explanations on critical topics, Dr. Paparella provides parents and families with meaningful, easy-to-read strategies and everyday tools to improve their child’s development. Dr. Paparella's extensive expertise is valuable to everyone involved in the lives of children on the Autism Spectrum.”
Dr. Nora D'Angiola, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, Speech and Language Pathologist, Buenos Aires, Argentina
“This book is a masterpiece of efficiency. What a professional book is to the clinician this book will be for parents of a young child with autism. Hundreds of clinical hours condensed into one easy to read book.” Terrific value!”
Stewart B., Parent, Los Angeles, USA
“In Dr. Paparella's closing thoughts, she included a note that said, "I hope it brings you many hours of practical and exciting instruction, and joyful times with your child." I think the reason why this book is so important -- why this book is so needed -- why this book is so critical at this moment in time for our children on the spectrum -- is that many of us parents have forgotten what joy feels like.”
Dr. Jane Chin, Ph.D., Parent, Los Angeles, USA
“This is a wonderful little book that you quickly learn to trust. It is concise, clear, and without a square foot of wasted space - as a parent, you will not want to skip a word. This is practical advice that you can begin applying immediately. The chapters are broken down in to key developmental areas: language, social interaction, joint attention, imitation, etc. Each chapter contains a short introduction about how typical children develop and demonstrate skills in these areas, followed by how children with ASD present and behave. The heart of each chapter is a subsequent "Strategies for Change" section which provides detailed guidance for how to address issues in children with ASD. Dr. Paparella literally walks you these strategies, including DTT, so that the process is very clear. For example, in Chapter 4, she shows how you teach pointing to request through a process that starts with errorless learning, moves on to a series of prompts, starts to fade the prompts, while encouraging generalization. She gently guides you and helps you out in detail when a strategy doesn't go as expected - a sure sign of an experienced clinician. Many other books would leave you hanging when their approach doesn't seem to be working; this one does not. The author is also very honest with the challenges to be faced, and doesn't pretend to be providing a "cure"; these are simply a set of excellent, reliable strategies that can help make a significant difference major areas of concern. Overall, this is a very accessible and practical book - true to its name, it's a book about everyday intervention and the strategies can be in the course of daily living, with a variety of people. This is part of the book's message: consistent application of techniques is key. Throughout the book, the guidance and advice is complemented with the real-life experience of the author at one of the most amazing clinics (THE most amazing, in my opinion) for children with ASD. The book is lovingly written - you feel that the author is really on your side, and your child's side. She encourages you to not underestimate the incredible changes that can happen along with early intervention. Finally, I should add that my child was under the care of Dr. Paparella and others at UCLA last year, and the voice in the book is the same comforting, intelligent, and thorough one I recognize from our stay there. Throughout our many weeks at UCLA, my wife and I saw - first hand - amazing changes in several children, so I can attest to the fact that these techniques really do make a big difference."
Greg, Parent, California, USA
Dr. Tanya Paparella is a specialist in the field of autism with more than 20 years of intervention and research with children on the autism spectrum. She is currently an Associate Clinical Professor in the Division of Child Psychiatry at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), a licensed clinical psychologist, and since 2001 Director of UCLA’s Early Childhood Partial Hospitalization Program (ECPHP) which is now an internationally recognized treatment program for young children with autism.
Dr. Paparella holds separate master’s degrees in Special Education and Counseling Psychology from Rutgers University, New Jersey, and a BA from the University of Cape Town where she majored in Psychology and French. She also holds a higher education teaching diploma from what is now the University of Johannesburg and prior to coming to the US was tenured faculty at the National School of the Arts, Johannesburg where she taught French. Other spoken languages include Italian and Afrikaans. Dr. Paparella’s formative years in autism intervention were at the Douglas Developmental Disabilities Center at Rutgers University from 1990 to 1996, where she designed, implemented, and evaluated educational programs for children on the autism spectrum. Dr. Paparella received her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from UCLA and completed a two-year National Institute of Mental Health postdoctoral fellowship in the UCLA Division of Child Psychiatry.
Dr. Paparella oversees the daily activities of ECPHP staff and is actively involved in the comprehensive evaluation and treatment of children with autism from 18 months to four years of age. She works closely with parents to support and educate them in all aspects of their child’s treatment. Dr. Paparella provides ongoing clinical instruction for students, interns, and M.D. fellows from different specialties. Her clinical and research interests relate to the effectiveness of early intervention – particularly with respect to predictors of outcomes for toddlers on the autism spectrum.
Dr. Laurence Lavelle attended Princeton University and the University of Cape Town graduating with several degrees (Ph.D., M.A., M.Sc.(Dist.), B.Sc.(Hons.), B.Sc.). He has published widely, coauthored many educational books and materials, and received several research and teaching awards including UCLA’s highest teaching award – The University Distinguished Teaching Award.
Table of Contents, Illustrated, Appendix, Glossary, References, Resources
The purpose of this book is to provide parents with immediate treatment strategies that target the core of autism. My intention is not to overload the reader with details, but rather to explain essential intervention strategies that are easy to follow and are known to work.
The strategies throughout this book will give you effective tools to teach your child in everyday activities and tackle autism at its core. Parents can make an enormous difference to their children's development if they know what to do. The earlier the intervention the better and you are at the forefront. However parents of a newly diagnosed child face several emotional and educational challenges. You have to learn about intervention for children on the autism spectrum. It takes time and is complex. Further, identifying and securing appropriate intervention through private, government and/or public means (state, community agencies, school systems) can be daunting. Parents are desperate to intervene immediately yet often face an extended waiting period before formal interventions begin.
I want you to have parent friendly teaching tools that you can use in your everyday activities with your child. My goal is to give you an introductory set of go-to practical strategies that will enable you to begin intervening immediately with long-lasting benefits for your child and your family.
I hope this book brings you many hours of practical and exciting instruction, and joyful times with your child. The book is intended to empower parents; you will be rewarded by returning to the parent friendly teaching strategies over and over again. Just as it takes time to see the fruits of one's labor with typically developing children, the same holds true for children on the autism spectrum. May you and your family celebrate every moment of progress.
With Love and Support
For over a decade students have praised 1) my ability to distill complex topics down to clear concepts, and 2) my ability to communicate these concepts. As a result students gain a firm foundation to further their understanding and intellectual development. With well over 10,000 evaluations by UCLA students rating my lectures 8+ on a 1-9 scale I have received several teaching and educational awards including UCLA’s highest - University Distinguished Lecturer.
Tanya is the autism specialist. My role was in developing the overall structure, presenting material, and explaining concepts and interventions as clearly as possible to make it accessible to parents and non-professionals. Based on the excellent reviews by parents, non-specialists, and specialists our joint talents have created a book that is more than the sum of our individual talents.
Believe in education and learning, it will reward you.
For additional information about the authors, autism, and this book see their Author Pages at:
This book is for any parent whose child has just received a diagnosis of autism or suspects that their child may be on the autism spectrum. Whether you need a plan of action or because something about your child does not feel right, you all come to this book with the same starting point. You all have a little one who means the world to you. To even begin questioning that your child may not be developing as he or she should is terrifying. Let alone to tackle autism. So before we begin I recognize how brave you are to have picked up this book. Many people don’t realize how much courage it takes to act on that nagging feeling that maybe something isn’t right, how scary it is to begin exploring further, how difficult it is to take the next step.
Even though you aren’t sitting in front of me, and we aren’t face-to face, I am here for you, to support you in your quest for knowledge. My goal is to educate you in a gentle, supportive way. So that regardless of what you take from the content in the book, you feel that I have communicated with you in a manner that any parent would want – with sensitivity, support, empathy and love.
I know because I have sat face-to-face with many parents who are struggling with the thought that their little one is “on the spectrum”. Your life has been turned upside down and you don’t know what hit you. Beyond just trying to cope with all of your emotions, your family and everyday life, you now have to find out what this all means and what you should do.
Most parents feel completely helpless. This is a whole new unknown and terrifying landscape. Many parents cope with the immediate shock by going into full action mode. They want to know everything there is and want to put a plan of action into place as soon as they can possibly figure out what they need to do. This is where it all becomes even more complicated as there is so much information out there. With the internet now providing a wealth of easily accessible information, you feel lucky that you have so many resources. On the other hand there are many different points of view and competing information. Making decisions as to what to believe and where to start can be overwhelming. I have often thought that autism is one of the most difficult diagnoses for parents. You have so much hope for your child, but trying to sort out where you should start and what you should do is mindboggling. Little is straightforward and the stress on you is enormous. Parents rightly have an intense urgency to do something to heal their child. I have a sense of how desperate you feel and how much you need to be told the truth. After having worked for more than 20 years with parents of children on the autism spectrum, I also know that you need hope and you desperately need to be empowered to help your child. This book will help you with where to begin, and how to begin.
First I want you to know that young children on the autism spectrum can make enormous change and achieve what seemed impossible2,3. The effects of early intervention can be astounding. A few weeks after a child starts treatment, often the first observation that parents report is that their child wants to be near them, seeks them out, wants to engage. Sometimes parents report they want to interact with their brother or sister, something they never did before. These are just the beginning steps. Many children can make incredible changes in their development, especially in the areas that are concerning you most. Yes, it is hard work for everyone involved. The changes don’t occur overnight, but you will be in awe of your child’s development and learning. Each small change is exciting and inspiring and will reward you for all your efforts.
My expertise is beginning intervention with very young children who are recently diagnosed or whose parents suspect that their child may be on the autism spectrum. In my clinic we treat children as young as two years of age who have had little or no previous intervention. We focus on the areas of development that are considered to be at the core of autism, exactly the areas that are covered in this book. This is a powerful approach, one that has achieved excellent results over many years4.
We are going to cover the areas that lie at the center of the disorder. These are the areas where your child needs specific targeted help. Instead of letting autism take hold and progress, I will provide you with intervention strategies that target autism at the core. I am not going to focus on any one intervention approach. We are going to focus on the content of what your child needs to learn, and we are going to use different intervention approaches to do that.
We will begin with communication and language. Chapters 3 and 4 explain why children on the autism spectrum have difficulties understanding language and communicating. Included will be specific strategies to improve your child’s understanding and communication. Then in chapters 5, 6 and 7 we will target social development. We know that there are several areas of social development that can make a significant difference to a child’s later success. You will learn to intervene in those early developing social areas that will make a lasting difference to your child’s development. The ability to share experiences with others is critical. In chapters 5 and 6, I explain what this is and how you can begin to develop it in your child. The ability to imitate others is essential. In chapter 7, I discuss the importance of imitation and how to teach it. Chapter 8 explains how to change unusual behaviors that interfere with your child’s development. If you target the above areas, you will be targeting the center of where autism is taking hold. The sooner you start the better. You cannot start too early, and you can make a significant impact. Chapter 9 discusses different intervention approaches, both educational and biomedical. It is meant to give you some additional direction as you begin to organize further intervention for your child.
The Table of Contents in the front of the book is purposefully detailed to provide you with a clear and easy way to immediately access and return to main concepts throughout the book.
Each chapter is carefully organized to facilitate a clear understanding of why the content is important and how to use it to help your child. In each chapter you will find information on what we see in typically developing children and how children on the autism spectrum are different. In most chapters you will find one or more sections called Strategies for Change, these are powerful intervention strategies for changing the course of your child’s development.
The toys used in the teaching examples are commonplace and at times are purposely simplified (for example, toy photos in chapters 7 and 8) to demonstrate that you can effectively use what you may already have at home.
Each chapter ends with Key Points and they are for quick reference any time you need a reminder of the important concepts covered in that chapter. I encourage you to return to sections throughout the book that are of particular significance to your child and reread them several times. Refer to them regularly as you use the intervention strategies.
The blank page at the end of each chapter titled Personal Notes is meant for you to use in whatever way suits you best. You might use it to make note of observations regarding your child, perhaps where you want to begin intervening, or to record skills that your child has learned.
This book is a hands-on, practical and easy to read guide on how to immediately implement effective intervention strategies that work. It is not meant to be comprehensive. You will find many books on autism written by parents and professionals. Some provide a general guide on how to access educational services for your child. Others describe intervention approaches in depth for clinicians and professionals. But often it takes a while for parents to figure it all out. In the meantime parents are desperate for guidance on what they can begin to do right away to help their child. Unfortunately just finding and securing good intervention services for your child can take months. This is vital time that you and your child cannot afford to lose.
I recognize that many parents work full time, some work part-time, and regardless of how much time any parent has to spend with a child, most lead very busy lives. In general this book provides you with parent friendly teaching tools that you can use in your everyday activities. Regardless of how busy you may be, every parent will benefit from first reading the book from start to finish before you begin implementing any teaching strategies. Since each chapter may offer insight on your child, you should be able to gain a preliminary understanding of what is involved that will help you decide where you want to begin.
Whether you are working part-time or full-time, chapters 3, 4, 5 and 6 provide strategies that can be incorporated into everyday routine activities. For example they are effective during mealtimes, when your child is in the bath, changing a diaper, before bedtime, or during a walk. Chapter 8 (Change Unusual Behaviors) may appear to require more time and effort on your part. However, if your time is limited, I suggest that you take one or two strategies from the chapter that are not only relevant for your child but that also seem easier for you to implement and begin to apply them during everyday activities. I provide suggestions in the chapter on how you can do this. Any parent with limited time should consider leaving the strategies in chapter 7 (Imitation) until last as they require more focus and time.
No matter your circumstance, take what you can and use it. Any intervention will be better than nothing. The strategies and content in this book are used in professional treatment programs and have been shown to work. They are essential for changing your child’s development and you can begin intervening immediately5-7.
Scheflen, S. C., Freeman, S., Paparella, T. Using video modeling to teach young children with autism developmentally appropriate play and connected speech. Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 2012, 47(3), 302-318.Kasari, C., Gulsrud, A., Freeman, S., Paparella, T., Hellemann G. Longitudinal Follow Up of Children with ASD Receiving Targeted Interventions on Joint Attention and Play. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 2012, 51(5), 487-495.
2013 UCLA CART Symposium
Dr. Tanya Paparella
Video: Think Outside The Box, Clinical Approaches To Autism: Approaching Social Communication
• Teaching requesting skills
• Teaching joint attention skills
• Using both a developmental and behavioral approach
See: More Than Hope: For Young Children on the Autism Spectrum
A Step-By-Step Guide to Everyday Intervention
Chapter 3 Understanding Language
Chapter 4 Foundations of Language
Chapter 6 Sharing Experiences
Dr. Tanya Paparella
Video: Treating Children on the Autism Spectrum
2013: NBCNews.com: More Children Being Diagnosed with Some Form of Autism As They Get Older
2013: Foxnews.com: Women Abused as Children More Likely to Have Kids with Autism
2013: UCLA Volunteer Center: Three Pillars, One University
2012: UCLA Newsroom: UCLA expert’s new book empowers parents to get involved in their child’s development
2012: Healing Thresholds: Autism Experts Write Book to Help Families Get Started
2012: My Science: Autism expert’s new book empowers parents to get involved in their child’s development
2012: The Joy of Child Development: Autism expert’s new book empowers parents to help their children
2012: Harbor UCLA Pediatrics: Autism expert's new book empowers parents to get involved in their child's development
2012: The Autism Newswire: Autism expert’s new book empowers parents to get involved in their child’s development
2012: The Examiner: UCLA Autism expert offers new book on autism for parents
2012: UCLA Today: Autism expert publishes new book to guide parents
2012: NIH Announcement: For Young Children with Autism, Directing Attention Boosts Language
2012: Advance Magazine: Directing Attention Boosts Language in Young Children with Autism
2008: Child Psychology and Parenting: Children with autism's response to novel stimuli while participating in interventions targeting joint attention or symbolic play skills
2008: CNN: Looking for Hope in the Ashes
More Than Hope: For Young Children On The Autism Spectrum
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