Monday, June 06, 2011

Autism Spectrum Disorders: My Review

Autism Spectrum Disorders (USA Today Health Reports: Diseases and Disorders)

About the Book:
Every year, one out of every 100 children in the United States--or six out of every 1,000 young people worldwide--is diagnosed with autism. Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are a neurologically based family of developmental disorders that can impact people's communication and social skills. ASD includes both autism and Asperger syndrome. Cutting-edge research and scientific studies are probing into the genetic foundation of ASD. Quoting researcher Stephen Scherer about a recent study, USA TODAY, the Nation's No. 1 Newspaper, notes that, "most individuals with autism are probably genetically quite unique." In this book, you'll find out what it's like to have ASD through reading case studies of people living with the condition. You'll also learn about the impact of the disorders on families. In addition, you'll receive solid information about symptoms, treatment, and research and get the facts you need about how you, your friends, and your family can cope effectively with ASD.

My Comments:
This is a badly written book with a lot of great content.  

I hate to start a review like that, but that was what was running through my mind the entire time I was reading this book.  Now, to be fair, I haven't read a lot of non-fiction aimed at the YA market, which this is, so the writing style may be typical of the genre.  Still, I was reading a Beverly Cleary novel to my seven year old last night and did not have any problem with the writing.  The author, Ana Maria Rodriguez, uses simple sentences and can be repetitive in her writing.  I kept wanting to take my red pen and show her how to combine sentences, use more complex language structures and otherwise improve her writing.

Nevertheless, as someone who has done a lot of reading on the subject of autism spectrum disorders, I'll also tell you that Rodriguez has done a great job of providing up-to-date information on a variety of subjects relating to autism spectrum disorders from defining them, explaining (to the extent known) the etiology, describing symptoms and explaining treatment options.  While admitting that complimentary and alternative therapies exist, and describing them briefly, she does not allow this book to become bogged down with defense or criticisms of those treatments.  She talks about what is know to work--even though she admits that  there is no cure.  

One section I found interesting was about discussing his condition with your autistic child.  You see, I've barely done that with mine.  Our path is somewhat different than some as he was not diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder until he was eight, however, from the beginning it has been my philosophy to focus on what he could do and help him with what he cannot.  I didn't want to give him a label to put on himself which gave him permission to fail.  He just graduated from high school and is now looking for a job.  We are getting help from the state and I explained to him briefly that this was because he was autistic, and that part of what that meant was that he was overly shy and needed help to find a job.  I just couldn't figure out how to describe autism to him without basically telling him it was ok for him to sit in front of the computer all day and play, or, conversely, to suggest that he was incapable of being a self-supporting adult because he wanted to sit in front of the computer all day.  I've decided that one of the things he's going to do siting in front of that computer is to read this book.  It strikes a good balance between pointing out the challenges facing the autistic population and showing that it is possible for many of these people to adapt and succeed.  

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy of this book available via NetGalley.  I was under no obligation to provide a positive review.  Grade:  B (A+ for content, C- for writing)

1 comment:

  1. Good review. I'm mildly Aspergery myself, and my son is a bit more so. One thing we did is have him read ‘The Curious Incident Of the Dog In the Night-time.'

    Not sure how that'd go over with your son, but mine found it illuminating.


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