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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Forrest C. Bennett, MD (University of Washington School of Medicine)
Description: This book is a second edition (first edition 1996) of an analysis of the complex disorder of autism. It covers historical, definitional, etiologic, diagnostic, and treatment issues.
Purpose: The purpose is to provide a comprehensive update of recent research and practice in the field of autism. It is very useful to have the major topics and debates of this disorder covered in one relatively manageable text. The editors have succeeded in providing a very eclectic, multimodal approach.
Audience: The book is targeted primarily to researchers and students involved in the field of autism. It will also be of interest to related service providers including psychologists, physicians, and educators. Because of its complexity, it will be less useful for parents. The editors are a diverse group of European academicians.
Features: Individual chapters deal with the full range of diagnostic and treatment considerations. Of particular note are chapters on brain development, brain abnormalities, and new/controversial interventions such as music therapy and psychoanalysis. In its attempt to be inclusive and accepting of all approaches, it risks leaving the reader unclear as to the most scientifically sound and useful treatments.
Assessment: This book is written in a scholarly and rigorous manner. Unfortunately, it reads somewhat slowly without attractive highlighting or visual aids. It represents a European psychological perspective of autism which, for the most part, will resonate with U.S. professionals but which occasionally lapses into outdated psychodynamic theories. It is not the best book in the field, but it is comprehensive in scope. It is unclear why this edition was needed only two years after the first.