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From The CriticsReviewer: Charles A. Cowan, MD (University of Washington School of Medicine)
Description: Autism, a serious developmental disability with enormous impacts on families and community resources, is being recognized with increasing frequency. This is an attempt to describe the range of issues facing families who have autistic children.
Purpose: The authors' purposes are to present findings from their research on the needs of families with autistic children and provide practical advice based on these findings. Such information is useful to both provider and family communities.
Audience: The target audience is health providers, psychologists, educators, social service professionals, and families. There is much valuable information for all these constituencies but professionals very well versed in autism will not find this book that useful.
Features: The typical experiences a family may encounter when first trying to get a diagnosis for their child is an apt starting point for this book. The authors then proceed to discuss family needs, how diagnosis and differential diagnosis is made, followed by more in depth discussion of effects of autism on parents and other family members. Finally difficult behaviors, educational strategies to treat autism, and a discussion of autism during adolescence and young adulthood (including a discussion of sexuality) conclude the book. U.S. providers and families will need to be aware that these British authors refer to service systems especially in the education system particular to England, so when reading this book some information may be confusing.
Assessment: The authors have made a valuable contribution to the autism literature by demonstrating from their own research and that of others the extent of family needs and stress this diagnosis creates. In my opinion, the biggest shortcomings are the diagnostic and intervention sections which, while adequate, are incomplete. The authors leaving off large subject areas or do not acknowledge controversies. There already exist a number of well written books for parents and professionals about autism. This book would have been more effective if the authors had focused exclusively on describing family needs and the results of their research.