Reviewed by Eimear Lyons, Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary Services, Mullingar.


Homespun remedies is a book aimed at parents and carers of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). It offers sensible and practical strategies for helping children with ASDs to function more effectively at home and in the community.

The Introduction states very clearly and precisely what ASDs are and why it is difficult raising a child with an autism spectrum disorder. It emphasises why a traditional approach to parenting, such as setting rules and expecting a child to learn by watching others, often does not work well with such children. Instead, the author recommends making reasonable simple changes to routines, expectations, and environments in order to help children live better lives.

The second section of the book is split into different areas of everyday life—home life, community, schools, etc. Each area describes parents’ experiences of common problem situations with their children. A summary of the scenario is explained and then followed by ‘homespun’ tips and advise on how to manage and deal more effectively with these situations. The topics covered are part of daily living and parents will be able to relate easily to the scenarios, such as dealing with noise, mealtimes, haircuts, nail clipping, dentist and doctor visits. (One must bear in mind, however, that many of the experiences described relate to children with higher functioning Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome who attend mainstream schools.) A lot of the tips and remedies offered are repeated for different areas of difficulty, which adds to the simplicity and the parent-friendly nature of the book. Interventions are described in a simple and comprehensible manner, in order to allow parents and carers to implement them in their own situations.

The final section of the book provides greater detail on successful methods for adapting the environment for children with ASDs. The remedies offered throughout the book are described in a step-by-step manner. For example, ‘what is a choice board?’ and how one goes about setting one up is again very clear and concise. However, it may be more beneficial to read this section prior to reading the scenarios and remedies. This would allow people to have a better understanding of the methods being recommended to deal with the everyday problems.

Homespun remedies is a useful source of reference for anyone living or working with a child with ASD. It is presented in a practical and easy reading style, on a topic that can be very complex and difficult to understand at times. Some of the common daily problems facing children with ASDs are touched on in a clear and simple manner and parents may find comfort and reassurance in reading other parents’ experiences of these. Homespun remedies does not provide all the answers, but it may certainly assists parents and carers in helping children with ASDs enjoy life better.

HOMESPUN REMEDIES: Strategies in the home and community for children with Autism Spectrum and other disorders, by Dion E. Betts and Nancy J. Patrick (2006), Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London ( Paperback ISBN 10: 1-84310-813-5, £12.99.