Assessing Autism & Aspergers books & programs

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Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnoses are increasing, worldwide, and information is in demand.  Consequently there is a proliferation of books and DVDs which can be quite daunting for parents of children and for adults with a new diagnosis.   There are many excellent books and programs available and there are also some very dodgy ones! 

Autistic Spectrum Disorder is an umbrella term.  It covers Autistic Disorder, Asperger's Disorder, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, Rhett's Disorder and Pervasive developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS).  It is a disorder which affects the way in which a person relates to his or her environment.  Differences are noted in communication, socialisation and flexibility of thought.  (For more information, search any of the websites run by the various autism associations in your country/ state/ local area.)

I am a specialist teacher of 26 years and am currently working as an ASD consultant.  I have worked with children who have an autistic spectrum disorder for 23 years. 

Too often I see people who are desperate for a "cure" and spend huge amounts of time and money for very little, if any, result. Some programs are hugely expensive or require an incredible amount of time.  Some require special diets.  If you are going to give all that time, money and effort do your homework first!

Here are some tips on finding the good stuff!

  • As eBay says, "If it's too good to be true it probably is!"  Be VERY wary of miracle cures!
  • What works for one person with ASD may not work for another.
  • CHECK CREDENTIALS of the author. This does not apply just to those claiming to be professionals.  Quite a few years ago there was a very popular and much-accessed web account by a person who claimed to have autism.  The work was frequently quoted and was praised for giving a wonderful insight into the world of autism.  It was subsequently found to be a hoax.
  • CHECK accuracy of any research quoted.  Has it been accepted by other professionals?  Has it been published in a journal which can be reviewed by others in the field (eg. medicine, psychology, education)?
  • Know what kind of information you are after - do you want to read first-person accounts, accounts from parents, information from professionals?
  • Understand that there is quite a bit of philosophical debate and that many adults with ASD find talk of "cures" offensive.
  • Always do your homework! Research! Don't rely on the claims of people with a vested interest.  There is plenty of unbiased information on the net.
  • Look for the practical books that tell you the "how to".
  • Most parents will have a professional who is involved with their child's support.  Ask their advice on the best sources of information
  • Programs which combine cognitive and behavioural strategies are usually the most effective.
Useful Resources
Among the many very useful books and programs, are the following which I will be regularly adding to - check back regularly.

" Inside" views

  • Anything by Wendy Lawson (an adult with autism )
  • "Freaks, Geeks and Asperger's Syndrome" by Luke Jackson (teen perspective)
  • "Asperger Syndrome, the Universe and Everything" by Kenneth Hall (child's perspective)
Support Strategies and Awareness
  • Anything by Tony Attwood or Simon Baron-Cohen
  • "Visual Strategies for Improving Communication" and "Solving Behaviour Problems in Autism" by Linda Hodgdon
  • "Mindreading" CD-ROM
  • TEACCH resources
  • "Autism for All Teachers" KLIK Enterprises
  • "Autism Support Strategies for Primary School Students" (also High School edition) from Autism Queensland
  • ASPECT resources
  • "Asperger Syndrome and Adolescence" Liane Holliday Willey

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