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A Mind Apart: Understanding Children with Autism and Asperger Syndrome


"Dr. Szatmari shares the stories of over a dozen children and families with whom he has worked. He reveals that people with autism and AS live in a world without metaphors; a visual landscape, built of images, not language. It's a place where friendly small talk may sound like a foreign tongue, where tree branches are more intriguing than people, where hairbrush bristles can feel like nails on the scalp or a hug like the clamp of a vise. Drawing on decades of influential research and clinical experience, Dr. Szatmari combines "big picture"
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"Dr. Szatmari shares the stories of over a dozen children and families with whom he has worked. He reveals that people with autism and AS live in a world without metaphors; a visual landscape, built of images, not language. It's a place where friendly small talk may sound like a foreign tongue, where tree branches are more intriguing than people, where hairbrush bristles can feel like nails on the scalp or a hug like the clamp of a vise. Drawing on decades of influential research and clinical experience, Dr. Szatmari combines "big picture" information - the nuances of diagnosis, what is known about possible causes, and what the future holds for children with these disorders - with finely wrought observations that let you see the world through your child's eyes." Of crucial importance, Dr. Szatmari also illustrates ways parents can "break through" to help kids start to navigate the wider world. An intense interest in the patterns on wasp wings may be mystifying, but such visual perceptiveness also can be channeled into artwork of math. A child fixated on death may be less afraid of loss than of change in general - a common form of anxiety that parents can help soothe. Hating to be touched doesn't mean your child doesn't feel affection, but that he is physically hypersensitive - and you can find other ways to encourage closeness and offer comfort.
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Editorial Reviews

Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: Gary P. Dupuy, MD (Ochsner Clinic Foundation)
Description: This is a book about understanding the basis and nuances of symptoms in children afflicted with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). It is a unique and well-written book that uses real life vignettes to describe and review the characteristic symptoms of autism and the social consequences and impact of these symptoms on family members and others.
Purpose: The purpose is to improve the understanding of peculiar behaviors and thought patterns of children with ASD so that others, including family members, loved ones, and healthcare providers, may have a better perception and approach to dealing with these children. Hopefully, this understanding will lead to a better outcome in the future and improved quality of life for all involved. The unique approach of this book and the high-quality presentation of the information meet this goal.
Audience: The target audience includes anyone who interacts with someone with autism spectrum disorders on a routine basis, including family members, loved ones, friends, or healthcare providers. It will also be useful for those who desire to improve their understanding of these conditions and the afflicted person's outcome. This book is written in a format that is easy to follow and understand for medical or nonmedical readers.
Features: The author, a child psychiatrist specializing in autism and Asperger syndrome, presents vignettes that are entitled with a patient's first name and subtitled with a peculiar characteristic specific to that person. On the surface, this may not sound very scientific, but this format is very effective in formulating a true feel for the origin of this child's peculiar behaviors by offering a perception from the child's eyes of why the behaviors occur. The author also effectively interjects definitions and evidence-based information into the vignettes making them educational and scientific. This approach leads to improved understanding and empathy on the part of the reader and, ultimately, improved outcome and quality of life for the child and family members.
Assessment: This is a must read for anyone involved in the life of a child with autism spectrum disorders. Its unique presentation offers unparalleled insight into the origin of the atypical behaviors of children with this affliction by entering their world, or "foreign country," as the author describes it, through their eyes so that these atypical behaviors are less confusing and disruptive to others. This, in turn, should lead to a more respectful and effective approach to dealing with children with ASDs. The book is well written, is easy to follow and understand, and complements other resources on this topic. Its true contribution and usefulness, however, lies in its powerful presentation that leads to improved understanding and empathy in the reader.
From the Publisher

"We are far from having a complete understanding of autism and Asperger syndrome, but Dr. Peter Szatmari has done an unsurpassed job of shedding light on how children with these disorders feel and act. The cases he recounts in this book touch on many different aspects of autism, including both the numerous problems that children and their families face and the successes they can achieve. The book also bears witness to the courage and perseverance of parents who, all too frequently, must struggle to find appropriate support from clinicians and educators. An enlightening and welcome resource for many, many families, and one that should also be read by all professionals in the field."--Patricia Howlin, PhD, Department of Psychology, St. George's Hospital Medical School, University of London, UK; coauthor of Teaching Children with Autism to Mind-Read

"A landmark book in terms of style and content. Dr. Szatmari explores and describes the world as perceived by people with autism to explain their unusual behaviour and abilities, and discusses scientific theories and current therapies as well as causes and prognosis. The book is written objectively and engagingly, with literary skill and a sense of optimism that will be particularly appealing to parents. Dr. Szatmari clearly appreciates and admires the minds of children with autism, and is able to explain those minds to parents while providing realistic advice on remedial strategies."--Tony Attwood, PhD, author of Asperger Syndrome: A Guide for Parents and Professionals

"Dr. Szatmari's book embodies the best of that singular tradition in which science is matched against disability, one child at a time. A clinician, scientist, and keen observer of human nature, Dr. Szatmari weaves a deeply empathic and comprehensive account of autism and related disabilities. The stories he recounts illuminate the daily challenges and triumphs that children experience, while revealing his passion for discovery and healing. The result is extraordinarily rewarding reading for families affected by autism and for the professionals who serve them."--Ami Klin, PhD, Yale Child Study Center

"This unique and beautiful book takes you on a voyage to the unusual world of children and young adults with autism/PDD. In close and personal detail, Dr. Szatmari describes the struggles of families to understand their children and to understand how they themselves are changed by their children. At the same time, the book brings to life key principles in our scientific understanding of these disorders. This brilliant work should be read by all parents and all clinicians involved in helping children with autism/PDD."--Bryna Siegel, PhD, author of Helping Children with Autism Learn

4 Stars! from Doody
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781572305441
  • Publisher: Guilford Publications, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/7/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 210
  • Sales rank: 982,336
  • Product dimensions: 6.08 (w) x 8.92 (h) x 0.57 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter Szatmari, MD, has been working with children with autism and pervasive developmental disorders and their families for over 20 years, and has consulted to government agencies in the U.S., Canada, and around the world. He is currently Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, Vice-Chair of Research, and Head of the Division of Child Psychiatry at McMaster University in Canada.
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Table of Contents

1 Stephen: The Eccentric Entomologist 1
2 Heather: A World That Revolves around a Different Axis 16
3 Justin: Listening to the Architecture of the World 27
4 Zachary: An Obsession with Death 44
5 Sharon: Seeing Other Minds Darkly 59
5 William: A World without Metaphor 79
7 Teddy: Incongruous Time, Incongruous Development 96
8 Sally, Ann, and Danny: Accepting the Enigma, Moving Beyond the Cause 114
9 Trevor: Mobiles and "Miracles" 133
10 Ernest: The View from the Bridge 148
11 Frankie: Learning and Forgetting at School 160
12 Sophie: Acceptance without Resignation 174
Bibliography 189
Resources 199
Index 204
About the Author 210
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