Just Give Him the Whale!: 20 Ways to Use Fascinations, Areas of Expertise, and Strengths to Support Students with Autism

Authors: Paula Kluth Ph.D., Patrick Schwarz Ph.D.

Format: Paperback, 160 pages, 8.5 x 11.0
ISBN: 9781557669605
Price: $19.95

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When learners with autism have deep, consuming fascinations—trains, triangles, basketballs, whales—teachers often wonder what to do. This concise, highly practical guidebook gives educators across grade levels a powerful new way to think about students' "obsessions": as positive teaching tools that calm, motivate, and improve learning.

Written by top autism experts and nationally renowned speakers Paula Kluth and Patrick Schwarz, this guide is brimming with easy tips and strategies for folding students' special interests, strengths, and areas of expertise into classroom lessons and routines. Teachers will discover how making the most of fascinations can help their students

  • learn standards-based academic content
  • boost literacy learning and mathematics skills
  • develop social connections
  • expand communication skills
  • minimize anxiety
  • and much more

Just Give Him the Whale! is packed from start to finish with unforgettable stories based on the authors' experience, firsthand perspectives from people with autism themselves, research-based recommendations that are easy to use right away, and sample forms teachers can adapt for use in their own classrooms. An enjoyable read with an eye-opening message, this short book will have a long-lasting impact on teachers' understanding of autism—and on their students' social and academic success.


Review by: Maureen Bennie, Director, Autism Awareness Centre, Inc.
"Excellent . . . This book gives great ideas on how to use student strengths without an overwhelming text to wade through."
Review: Howard County Autism Society Perspectives
"Immensely practical . . . Speaks to a value system rooted in the principles of self-determination."
Review: Education Review
"A readable and practical guidebook . . . recommended for academic and public libraries."
Review: Autism Asperger's Digest
"The ultimate in 'practical,' yet it is highly readable and uplifting . . . each [chapter] is packed with teaching tools that demonstrate how to use passions to motivate, expand horizons and engage in academics."
Review by: Jenn Seybert, Autism self-advocate; Executive Board, Autism National Committee
"Provides wonderful insights on how autistic individuals . . . can be helped by means of creative strategies that can empower them to experience success."
Review by: Kate McGinnity, co-author, Walk Awhile in My Autism
"A powerful resource. Kluth and Schwarz's innovative focus on the passions and talents of people with autism is sure to deepen relationships and enrich lives."
Review by: Catriona Johnson, Chair, Autism Society of America Government Relations Committee; parent of a child with autism
"I am so grateful for this book . . . Kluth and Schwarz give educators and parents the tools to empower students with autism. I can't think of a greater gift."
Review by: Carol Gray, President, The Gray Center for Social Learning and Understanding
"This book is for any teacher who wants to be remembered fondly by her students as the one who 'got it', who built meaning and motivation into learning. I wish this book had been on my shelf my first year of teaching!"
Review by: Carol Tashie, author, Seeing the Charade: What We Need to Do and Undo to Make Friendships Happen
"Once again Paula and Patrick have hit the nail squarely on the head . . . A practical book that is crystal clear in its values and powerful in its vision. I recommend it for every teacher who wants to make a difference in all students' lives."

Table of Contents

About the Authors
About the Cover Artist
A Note About Terminology

Fascinations, areas of expertise, and strengths can be used...

  1. To Develop a Relationship with the Student
  2. To Expand Social Opportunities
  3. To Expand Communication Skills and Opportunities
  4. To Help Minimize Anxiety
  5. To Plan for Inclusive Schooling
  6. To Build Classroom Expertise
  7. To Boost Literacy Learning
  8. To Comfort
  9. To Inspire Career Ideas
  10. To Encourage Risk Taking
  11. To Connect Students to Standards-Based Content
  12. To Encourage In-Depth Study
  13. To Make Sense of a Confusing World
  14. To Let Students Shine and Showcase Talents
  15. To Give Students "Power"
  16. To Encourage Chit-Chat
  17. To Boost Mathematics Skills and Competencies
  18. To Teach Manners, Cooperation, and the Expression of Empathy
  19. To Encourage Greatness
  20. To Make Life Worth Living

Appendix A Frequently Asked Questions
Appendix B Additional Resources Focused on Strengths, Abilities, and Interests

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