Description: This book is an impressive summary of current research and thought on autism and other pervasive developmental conditions. It is appropriately broad and uncommonly thorough in its coverage of diagnostic issues, epidemiology, and the psychological and neurobiological processes involved. Psychopharmacological, behavioral, and educative approaches to servicing individuals with these disorders are also addressed.
Purpose: The purpose of this volume is twofold: to synthesize the now substantial literature on this subject, and to specify targets for future research. It is intended to add to the literature, not directly (e.g., presenting new research findings, proposing theory, describing unknown aspects) but rather through organizing current understandings and underscoring specific areas that command attention. It is successful in doing so.
Audience: This volume was written for social service system professionals, including physicians, psychologists, and students. Caretakers and family members of autistic or otherwise developmentally disordered individuals would benefit as well.
Features: This well organized, text-like volume addresses the cognitive, genetic, and neurological aspects of autism and pervasive developmental disorders. Much remains unclear about the pathophysiological mechanisms involved in these disorders, and this is addressed here. Perhaps most impressive is the balance of the book the contributors represent multiple disciplines and nationalities. Two chapters are particularly compelling: one on outcomes in adult life and the other on the evolution of human social skills.
Assessment: Overall, this will serve as a useful reference for professionals and family members involved with autistic or developmentally disordered individuals. It represents a straightforward, scholarly approach to presenting current understandings; in this way it differs from important writings on the subject where provocative, insight-oriented personal accounts and perspectives are offered by those who have experienced the disorder directly or indirectly. Toward its goals of organizing information and offering directions for future research, this volume will make an important contribution to the field.