Susan Louise Peterson
Get Your Copy on: Amazon or Barnes&Noble
You are the author of Questionable Autism and other books on mental and emotional development. But before we discuss your book, I was hoping you could tell us a bit about your career as an educator and school psychologist - and how you started to work with children that presented developmental challenges.
I've taken an incredible journey into the public schools and worked in the tough inner city public schools of Las Vegas, Nevada for twenty years as a teacher and later as a school psychologist. My experiences include teaching and assessing students in at-risk situations from preschool to high school. My work has included making thousands of home visits in the inner city housing projects of Las Vegas and conducting hundreds of parent meetings to encourage parents to help their children succeed. When I first started teaching, I only briefly heard the word 'autism', but this soon changed. Later, my interests lead me to be a school psychologist at a school diagnostic center working with early childhood students displaying developmental delays and autism concerns.Autism (especially with regard to potential causes, diagnoses and caregiving) is such a difficult challenge for affected families. Can you give us some background on autism as a diagnosed condition. The big question is: What is autism?
We know that autism presents differently in children and they do not all appear to look or act the same way. I once heard a teacher of children with autism say that her class greatly varied in skills and abilities and that she had to really vary her teaching style and strategies. In many cases of autism we know that it significantly impacts the child’s communication and socialization skills as well as a variety of behaviors (i.e. repetitive behaviors, restricted interests or responds to sensory issues or changing routines).What are the generally acknowledged causes…if known?
I really have difficulty answering this question because almost everyday I hear a new cause or possible cause for autism. I will say autism is being researched by many professionals so it is interesting to see their different points of view.You have conducted over 1000 multi-team assessments on young children with possible autism and developmental delays. What major trends have you seen during your career?
I see a bunch of confusion about autism, especially for parents. Parents often confuse autism and general developmental delays in children. Professionals are also confused and sometimes disagree about autism from different training and experiences.In your book Questionable Autism are you speaking more to parents or to the professional community that performs evaluations?
I think the book, Questionable Autism speaks equally to parents and professionals. It is written to open up discussions about autism and to ask some questions we could think about as we explore the many issues of autism.What are some of the biggest challenges facing educators and medical professionals when diagnosing development challenges?
There are many challenges for professionals related to testing, screening and identifying children with autism. Many of these challenges are discussed in the book Questionable Autism with possible questions to reflect on these challenges.What do you want readers to know most about autism?
I hope the readers of Questionable Autism will see that autism is not the easiest area to understand and that there are many questions that could be asked about autism eligibilities and general clarifications about autism.What do you hope that readers will take away from your book?
I want the readers of Questionable Autism to understand that there are different philosophies about autism in different agencies, school districts and organizations. As well individuals, parents and professionals can have quite a range of opinions about the field or autism.
To further explore this topic....
Connect with Susan at: