Depot Book Reviews
I've written short reviews of various books that I've read
since Tara's diagnosis. I hope you'll find them useful.
Emergence: Labeled Autistic
I can't say enough about these two books. Temple is a
recovering 48 year old autistic with a Ph.D. in Animal Science.
She is an Associate Professor at my almamater
She is a world renowned expert in the design of humane animal
handling equipment. She is also an outspoken authority on
In her first book, Emergence, Temple concentrates on her early
years as a child going through adolescence and through college.
It covers in detail the traumas that she experienced and the
methods and people that helped her cope.
In her second book, Thinking in Pictures, she describes the
differences in her perception that make her special and how
they've helped her get where she is. She also refers to the
experiences that other autistics have communicated to her since
she's become active in the Autism community.
Temple Grandin with Margaret M. Scariano
Thinking in Pictures
We purchased these books at the 1995 Pennsylvania State Autism
Conference where Temple Grandin was a keynote speaker. I
highly recommend that parents see one of her presentations and
read her books, she is a feisty woman that really helped raise
our hopes for our daughter. These books offer us a window into
the autistic mind.
There's a Boy in Here
Judy and Sean share their experience as mother and son on their
struggle with Autism. Judy describes events that have occurred
in raising Sean and he provides commentary on those events from
his point of view. Sean had extreme behavioral problems,
putting his family through horrible trials. Sean has been
habilitated to the point where he could help write this book
and live independently.
Judy and Sean Barron
This was one of the books recommended by our Developmental Pediatrician
upon diagnosing Tara. It is the first book I read, and it did give
us hope but also scared us due to Judy's suffering.
I have now met Judy Barron since she recently moved to our area.
Sean is now fully independent and in all respects seams to have no
lingering autistic traits. Judy and her husband Ron attribute this to
Sean's determination to change everyting that made him autistic.
I've now reread this book and there are many things that scare me
more than they did the first time. This is due to the fact that my
daughter has developed many of the negative traits that Sean had
displayed at her age.
I recommend this book to parents but not as a first book.
Soon Will Come the Light, A View from Inside the Autism Puzzle
Thomas McKean is an autistic adult who has been on the ASA Board of Directors.
I was introduced to Thomas a few years ago on the IRC
IRC is a very poor communication medium for people who have problems that involve the ability to focus attention.
That is the light in which I read this book.
Thomas A. McKean
The introductions include fluff from one of his closest
friends so I was worried that they would set the tone for the book.
Fortunately this book is written very well and is a good source of insight into Thomas'
autistic symptoms. Not all people with autism display the same symptoms and Thomas is
quick to point this out. He is intelligent but learns better on his own than in the
standard classroom environment.
Thomas was aparently a very difficult child. He refers to making his parents lives a
living hell and boasts about how good he was at it.
Shortly after his initial diagnosis of autism, which he wasn't aware of, starting at the
age of nearly 15 Thomas spent 3 years
in an institution. This was still a quite common practice in 1980. His description
of that place is fairly vivid.
Since this was a significantly impresionable period of his life,
Thomas refers to it frequently in the first 90 pages of text.
He wasn't rediagnosed with autism and informed of it until after he
left the institution which he rightly blames
on the doctors who worked on him up to that point.
Thomas discusses his perceptions and opinions on facets of autism and various treatments.
Since Thomas likes to write poetry, as
well as composing songs, the last 60 pages are his
poems. Sorry, I'm not into poetry, so I will not comment on that portion of the book.
The book was much better than I expected at the outset.
If you are reading autobiographies you should read this book if you get a chance.
Biographies by Parents
Let Me Hear Your Voice
Catherine Maurice recounts her struggle to bring her daughter
then her son out of an autistic haze via Lovaas' methods.
Catherine also used Holding Therapy with her daughter. She
claims that her children have been completely "cured",
indistinguishable from their peers.
This was one of the books recommended by our Developmental Pediatrician
upon diagnosing Tara It is definitely a positively written book.
The thing that impressed me the most was the level of effort
and number of hours that went into the Behavior Modification
The Sound of a Miracle, A Child's Triumph over
Annabel tells her story of her daughter Georgie's autistic
problems and the loss of her younger daughter Dotsie, to
Leukemia. Compounding these difficulties is her split with
Georgie's father and involvement with Christian Science.
Annabel remarries to Peter Stehli and they are transferred to
Switzerland where she finds out about Dr. Guy Berard in France.
Georgie receives Auditory Integration
Training (AIT) from Dr. Berard and has remarkable results.
The remainder of the book deals with the struggles to obtain an
education unlimited by Georgie's special education and
institutional history. Georgie graduates magna cum laude in
art school going on to grad school.
This book ends on a high note but takes a long painful trip to
get there. It is a story of faith, perseverance and a
Annabel Stehli was another speaker at the 1995 Pennsylvania
State Autism Conference. Her presentation was more of an
opportunity to pitch her new book but had the effect on selling
this one too. She is on a crusade to promote AIT and is very
good at it. Georgie has now graduated from grad school, is in
her 30's, is married and working as an artist.
Dancing in the Rain
This is a collection of 22 significant success stories by
mothers of children with various developmental disabilities,
primarily PDD/Autism. Each one of the subjects of these
stories has some success attributed to AIT. The subjects range
in age from 2 1/2 to 29 with problems as diverse as fetal
Edited by Annabel Stehli
This book is a obvious attempt to sell AIT. It is nice to read
a collection of successes, my mother-in-law loved it because it
was one success right after another.
Annabel stated that the publisher was concerned that these
stories didn't stress AIT enough and would like Annabel to
rewrite some of them. Annabel says that she couldn't bring
herself to do that to these mothers. As evidence one of the
stories gives AIT only passing mention and credit for building
on the success of her discrete trials program.
Laughing & Loving with Autism
This book was recommended to me a couple of years back by the
father of an autistic child. Upon spotting it at the PA State
Autism Conference (Oct 15, 1998) I decided to pick it up and
read it over the next 2 days. It is a collection of anecdotes
from several parents and siblings of individuals with autism.
Compiled by R. Wayne Gilpin
These fall into the general categories of "Autistic kids say
and do the most amazing things" and "Autistic misinterpretation
of the English language". If you've been around people with
autism for a while you'll recognize many of these little
stories as familiar. Although the book is light reading, I
can't say that I found much humor in it. I read incident
after incedent that highlited the misinterpretation of the
world around them. I kept visualizing my daughter in thier
place and how I would have reacted. At this point in time I
guess I don't see much humor in autism.
The last 20% of the book is a chapter titled
Poignant which I did appreciate. This is a
section of little stories about how special the autistic
child has made the lives of these families.
Children with Autism, A Parents' Guide
Even though this book is slightly dated it is very helpful the
parent of an autistic child. It covers topics from "What is
Autism", and "Adjusting to Your Child's Diagnosis", through
"Legal Rights and Hurdles" and "Adults with Autism".
This book was written with an optimistic attitude due to the
rapidly evolving understanding of the brain.
Edited by Michael D. Powers, Psy.D.
A Parent's Guide to Autism
Although this book is more up-to-date than the Powers book it
does not share the same optimism. Mr. Hart is both the father
and brother of autistics. In this book he expresses his
opinions of a few of the treatments and theories that are
covered. He considers any recovery from Autism indicates
probable improper diagnosis. Mr. Hart dismisses all
nutritional/dietary treatments for Autism as unworthy of
consideration due to insufficient scientific study. The
treatments favored by the author are Sensory Integration
Integration Training (AIT), Communication Therapy and
Facilitated Communication (FC), even though AIT and FC had
little scientific study behind them at the time this book was
written. The author attacks the Doman-Delacato Patterning
Program citing books by William Christopher and Berneen Bratt.
I personally haven't read these books but have been informed
that the Christophers' book does not oppose that program in any
Charles A. Hart
This book provides a good list of information sources such as
organizations, books and newsletters, with comments in the
This book was recommended by Tara's Developmental Pediatrician on our second
visit. It took me several months to read this book and I read
several other books while reading this one. The author
presents a rather cold and dispassionate look at Autism such as
one would expect from a medical journal. Maybe that's why the
Developmental Pediatrician liked it so much.
Autism: Explaining the Enigma
Frith starts this book with an examination of various case
histories and popular myths based in history. Most if these
cases predate the 1944 creation of the label Autism. These
cases are examined for Autistic like symptoms and for symptoms
peculiar to Autism. Frith then discussed the likelihood of the
individual cases being actually Autistic. A search for the
cause of Autism is made using both a neurologic approach and a
psycologic approach, based on both her research and that of
many others. Frith presents a hypothesis that the symptoms of
Autism are due to the a decreased inherent tendency toward
coherence. As an example, this tendency allows the typical
person to comprehend a sentence with missing or misspelled
words. Many features of Autistic performance in IQ tests, both
successes and failures are examined against this hypothesis.
Frith gets into communication problems, empathy, and theory of
mind. One of the problems is a long term failure to recognize
that others may not know what they know. Most children outgrow
this by the age of 4 years.
This book is fairly technical in nature but is very readable
considering how complex this subject can be. I recommend this
book to all who work with Autistic students, it goes a long way
to explaining the strengths and weaknesses of the Autistic
mind. The understanding developed may help teachers to develop
better methods for getting concepts across to their Autistic
The World of the Autistic Child
This book was recommended to me by several people.
I finally finished this book, it took me nearly a year due to the fact that
many of the chapters don't apply to my situation yet and I've been very busy.
The book was written and organized in a way that the reader can pick and
choose which chapters to read based on the things that concern them.
It is an excellent book for parents of recently
diagnosed children or others new to the world of Autism and PDD.
This is the author's stated purpose for writing this book and she has
done a nice job. She seems to have a good handle on how parents react
to the diagnosis and the basis for their feelings. She has extensive
experience in the field of diagnosing and treating Autistic children and
uses tidbits from her work to illustrate points. Dr. Siegel spends a lot
of time addressing matters of concern to the family of a child diagnosed with
Autism/PDD. She also goes through selecting and advocating for appropriate
services and choosing the best classroom setting. Dr. Siegel supports the
use of Applied Behavior Analysis for instructing Autistic children.
She also gives a word of caution about the use of "unscientific" therapies.
Autism: Handle with Care
Some one recommended that I read this book via email as a response to this page.
Gail was the first speaker at the 1996 PA State Autism Conference in Scranton on
Since we had last minute baby-sitting problems we arrived halfway through her
Because it was the only book on sale at the conference that I hadn't read and
still applied to our daughter I decided to buy it despite the $24.95 charge for
a 100 page paperback.
Gail's basic premise is that Autism Syndrome is a collection of symptoms that are
a direct result of coping with hyper acute senses.
She states that the opposite end of the spectrum, hypo sensitivity is a symptom
of flooding the body with endorphins via stimming to cause the sensory system to
shut down from overload.
Gail devotes a chapter to each of the senses; touch, hearing, vision, smell &
taste describing the impact of hyper sensitivity and giving anecdotal evidence.
Gail's preferred treatment seams to be to protect the individual from environments
that would cause stress to the senses to which he is sensitive.
Remove distractions from walls, avoid fluorescent lighting, speak at just above a
whisper, and avoid perfumes etc.
She then goes on to explain that the autistic lack of social interaction is due
in large part to the child's avoidance of overly stressful stimulation. This can be
bypassed if the environment is kept "safe" for the child and interactions kept short
in the beginning to avoid over stimulation.
Gail feels that the reason that most autistics perform poorly on IQ tests are that
the tests are typically designed for communicative individuals and some of the
testing strategies that she's seen create a bias against typical reactions of
higher functioning autistic individuals. I've felt this way for awhile due to
autistic communication limits but I've never seen direct examples before.
Toward the end of her book Gail devotes a chapter to evaluating various therapies
like AIT, FC, SI, Behavior Modification, Vitamins, Diet and so on.
In the end she feels that the greatest amount of progress will be due to research
into the views of autism given to us by newly communicative autistic individuals.
Up to The Autism Depot.
December 6 1996