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From The CriticsReviewer: Gary B Kaniuk, Psy.D. (Cermak Health Services)
Description: This comprehensive exploration of autistic spectrum disorders covers history, diagnosis, neurobiology, environment, and treatment. There are dozens of contributors from universities in the U.S., the U.K., the Netherlands, Sweden, and Canada.
Purpose: The editors state in the preface that they "wished to provide a broad perspective on our current understanding of ASD, ranging from basic science to clinical symptomatology, to best clinical practice and social policy."
Audience: The most appropriate audience for this book appears to be clinical practitioners, researchers, and graduate students.
Features: The book begins with a historical look at autistic spectrum disorders, beginning with Kanner's work in 1943 and the components which lead to the diagnosis, including psychological testing, questionnaires, interviews, and observational measures. Key features of these disorders are discussed such as language, repetitive behaviors, and developmental trajectories. One of the largest sections of the book is devoted to psychiatric and medical comorbidities. The authors describe obsessive-compulsive disorder, ADHD, mood disorders, and self-injurious behaviors. Medical comorbidities include seizure disorder, gastrointestinal problems, and sleep problems. Neurobiology and genetics are covered fairly extensively. The book ends with treatment approaches, including applied behavior analysis, the DIR model, social skills, and psychopharmacology. The numerous tables and figures are extremely helpful. The chapters are uniformly organized into points of interest, main chapter content, conclusion, challenges and future directions, and suggested readings and references.
Assessment: This is an exhaustive look at a topic that has received a lot of attention lately. There are literally hundreds of references/suggested readings for further research. The book contains helpful tables and figures, including eight pages (front and back) of colorful, glossy pictures. It is a book that researchers and clinicians should have in their libraries.