Surveying the Spectrum: Six New Titles on Autism

fromlikeAttwood, Tony & Michelle Garnett. From Like to Love for Young People with Asperger’s Syndrome (Autism Spectrum Disorder): Learning How To Express and Enjoy Affection with Family and Friends. Jessica Kingsley. 2013. 176p. illus. bibliog. ISBN 9781849054362. pap. $19.95; ebk. ISBN 9780857007773. PSYCH

Some of the most basic factors determining an individual’s placement on the autism spectrum are difficulty in identifying and correctly responding to cues in social situations, along with struggles with reading and expressing emotion. These are also among the most challenging aspects of life to teach a person. Coauthors Attwood (The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome; Asperger’s Syndrome: A Guide for Parents and Professionals) and Garnett (founder & director, Minds & Hearts) are both clinical psychologists based in Australia with decades of experience with people on the spectrum. Here, they showcase a series of activities and worksheets that parents can use to assist their children in understanding and expressing affection. VERDICT Through storytelling, the authors describe social situations to depict different phases of affection. This easy-to-read book is good for use with a wide range of individuals and is recommended for parents and professionals alike.

redstarDelmolino, Lara & Sandra L. Harris. Essential First Steps for Parents of Children with Autism: Helping the Littlest Learners. Woodbine House. Feb. 2014. 200p. ISBN 9781606131893. pap. $21.95. PSYCH

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an autism diagnosis occurs in one out of every 88 children, and the discovery is devastating to parents, who are often bewildered by the onslaught of information available and advice coming from all sides. Coauthors Delmolino (clinical faculty, Rutgers Univ.; director, Douglass Developmental Disabilities Ctr.) and Harris (emerita, Rutgers Univ.; executive director, Douglass Developmental Disabilities Ctr.) offer a detailed, authoritative guide that discusses everything from early indicators of autism to likely behaviors (including those rooted in sensory issues), how-to’s for increasing communication and social skills, and family support. Case studies and reviews of promising research and interventions make this the go-to guide for parents of autistic children. VERDICT This is the manual that parents have been asking for. Highly recommended for those with newly diagnosed children, this helpful work is essential for all public library collections.

Lipsky, Deborah. How People with Autism Grieve: An Insider Handbook. Jessica Kingsley. 2013. 128p. ISBN 9781849059541. pap. $18.95; ebk. ISBN 9780857007896. PSYCH

Lipsky, an autistic woman who has worked as a firefighter, emergency medical technician, and reserve police officer, is the author of two other similar titles: Managing Meltdowns and From Anxiety to Meltdowns. She expertly brings the disability motto “Nothing about us without us” to life in this behind-the-spectrum perspective of death and grieving. Lipsky discusses how autistic people view the end of life, which entails literal thinking and problem solving that are not in step with our (neurotypical) emotional responses. Her matter-of-fact approach and examples shine a light on just how different the process is for those on the spectrum. Strategies surrounding cultural expectations for wakes, funerals, and other social events are included. VERDICT An eye-opening work that is truly illuminating and thought-provoking. Essential for anyone who loves, lives with, or works with people on the spectrum, and highly recommended reading for those in the mortuary, counseling, and education fields.

Steward, Robyn. The Independent Woman’s Handbook for Super Safe Living on the Autistic Spectrum. Jessica Kingsley. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9781849053990. pap. $19.95; ebk. ISBN 9780857007650. PSYCH

Steward, a 26-year-old autistic woman, is an autism trainer, mentor, consultant, and artist. She begins her first nonfiction work with an explanation of her “nothing is too basic” approach, explaining that everyone learns differently. She discusses how certain characteristics of autism (literal thinking and difficulty reading social cues) can create vulnerability in potentially dangerous situations. Using an online survey, which questioned people both on the spectrum and not, she obtained information about matters pertaining to safety, such as friendship, relationships and sex, alcohol and drugs, money and employment, and staying safe outside the home and online. VERDICT To the nonspectrum reader, much of this work may seem painfully naive. But that, in essence, is Steward’s point, and she succeeds admirably at educating her audience in matters of personal safety. An invaluable resource for autistic individuals as well as those who live and work closely with them.

indepTeaching Social Skills to People with Autism: Best Practices in Individualizing Interventions. Woodbine House. 2013. 192p. ed. by Andy Bondy & Mary Jane Weiss. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781606130117. pap. $29.95. PSYCH

The Diagnostics and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) lists a deficit in social skills as one of the major markers for autism. But what exactly are social skills? More than the exchange of conversation, these interactions encompass the ability to correctly maintain interpersonal space; interpret facial expression, mood, and tone of voice; and manifest appropriate body and verbal language. Behavioral analyst Bondy (codeveloper, Pyramid Educational Consultants, Inc.) and Weiss (coauthor, Reaching Out, Joining In: Teaching Social Skills to Young Children with Autism) have compiled a well-developed collection of writing on recent advancements in social skills teaching methodology that attempts to provide a firm grounding in strategies with evidence-based research on the discussed methods. VERDICT Providing material difficult to come by, this book is designed for use by frontline teaching staff and is a worthy resource for parents and field practitioners.

Worlds of Autism: Across the Spectrum of Neurological Difference. Univ. of Minnesota. 2013. 348p. ed. by Joyce Davidson & Michael Orsini. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780816688890. pap. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9781452940243. PSYCH

As the number of autism diagnoses rise, the field of related research is exploding. With the topics of study as varied as the spectrum itself, it is impossible to keep abreast of every theory; an efficient way of staying informed is becoming a necessity. This volume collects, on a wide variety of topics—with a vast array of viewpoints—current papers by social science and humanities scholars alongside published work by similarly qualified autistic individuals. Covering issues such as biopolitics, genetics, pharmaceutical and other interventions and treatments, neurodiversity, and more, this broad text encourages further investigation and asks the reader to assess their own opinions of the subject. VERDICT Too much of what we know about autism is colored by politics and often diametrically opposed opinions. While this title is geared largely to academics and professionals in the field, it is worthy of attention from parents and educators who are willing to take the time to formulate their own viewpoints.

Virginia Johnson is Technical Services Librarian at the Weymouth P.L., MA