Social Sciences: Autism | April 15, 2013

Cariello, Carrie. What Color Is Monday? How Autism Changed One Family for the Better. Riddle Brook. Apr. 2013. 228p. ISBN 9780984792733. pap. $16. PSYCH

One in 88 children receives an autism diagnosis, according to a 2008 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Though so many families are affected, there doesn’t seem to be enough information or support to relieve the sense of isolation intrinsic to the diagnosis. Cariello’s second son, Jack, who is on the autism spectrum, sees the days of the week as colors, hence the title of her book. This family memoir is a heartfelt, honest, often tongue-in-cheek view of life with an autistic child, showcasing Jack’s laugh-out-loud escapades and his keep-your-hanky-handy triumphs. The thematic visual of snowflakes—“similar but unique…drifting, melting, re-crystallizing”—is used to represent his autism, and is particularly poignant. However, the worry and frustration that are an inevitable part of parenting, and most especially special-needs parenting, are not glossed over, but celebrated as signs of growth for the family as a whole. A short glossary defines terms that may be unfamiliar to readers. VERDICT This upbeat, inspirational title will appeal to those interested in autism, family dynamics, and parenting.—Virginia Johnson, Weymouth P.L., MA

Library Journal Reviews starred review Grandin, Temple & Richard Panek. The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum. Houghton. Apr. 2013. 256p. notes. ISBN 9780547636450. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780547858180. PSYCH

The latest by Grandin (animal science, Colorado State Univ.; Thinking in Pictures: My Life with Autism) describes what she considers the “third phase” of research and understanding of autism. She explains how 21st-century brain-imaging technology allows researchers to see differences in the wiring and structures of the brains of people with autism. Brain imaging and mapping coupled with advanced technology in DNA sequencing can then be used to learn how each individual autistic person’s traits look from a biological perspective. However, Grandin stresses how important it is for autism research to focus not only on negative traits but also on an autistic person’s strengths; this can help develop that individual’s skills and identify jobs and activities in which he or she can excel. VERDICT Grandin’s subject matter is quite technical, but the writing is clear and understandable even for nonscientific readers. She effectively makes her case that people with autism have individual differences, and that those who work with them should focus on these differences rather than consider their charges as part of a group with like symptoms. This work is highly recommended for anyone who knows or works with people on the spectrum.—Terry Lamperski, Carnegie Lib. of Pittsburgh

Haines, Caren. Silently Seizing: Common, Unrecognized and Frequently Missed Seizures and Their Potentially Damaging Impact on Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders; An Essential Guide for Parents and Professionals. AAPC. 2012. 148p. bibliog. ISBN 9781937473082. pap. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781937473396.PSYCH

Haines, a mother and registered nurse, describes how she drew on her nursing skills and training to decipher her son’s behavior and symptoms, which seemed to her to signal more than autism. Observing Josh before and after what appeared to be small seizures, Haines began investigating the connection between seizures and autism. In an open and approachable manner, she shares Josh’s story, her family’s struggle to find a physician to diagnose and treat the seizures, and Josh’s progress after treatment. She also discusses genetic disorders related to both autism and epilepsy, the diagnosis and treatment of seizures, and promising treatments. Haines includes physicians’ insights into autism and seizures as well as their thoughts about the future recognition of the autism/epilepsy relationship and the potential for improvements in diagnosis.VERDICT In this insightful, positive, and accessible work, Haines has brought a difficult but overlooked topic to the attention of medical professionals and parents of children with autism. The family stories will resonate with parents and illustrate to physicians the need to at least consider the possibility that epilepsy may be a contributing factor in behaviors presenting as autism.—Lisa Jordan, Johnson Cty. Lib., KS