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.
"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 and AS. 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 and AS."--Bryna Siegel, PhD, author of Helping Children with Autism Learn