Sunday, December 21, 2014

‘Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism’

Book cover, Thinking Person's Guide to Autism. What You Really Need to Know About Autism: From Autistics, Parents, and Professionals.
The interested reader could easily fill a bookshelf addressing multiple facets of autism: behavioral therapies, sensory challenges, whether or not to medicate, K-12 educational policies. But this reader would have to buy one book first, and Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism would be an ideal place to start.

Published in 2011 by the Myers-Rosa Foundation, the book is edited by Shannon Des Roches Rosa, Jennifer Byde Myers, Liz Ditz, Emily Willingham and Carol Greenburg.

Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism provides an informative overview from a variety of contributors.

The book serves as a much-needed antidote to the politicization of autism — providers and “charities” that rely on desperation and fear to promote their agendas. Instead, as the editors proclaim in a joint introductory statement, the best defense against autism pseudoscience is critical evaluation.

Some of the questions that they suggest asking are, “Does this practitioner or vendor promise miracles that no one else seems to achieve?” “Do I find any scientific research supporting the claims, or are there only individual (often emotional) testimonials of effects?”

As a library professional, I share an interest in promoting information literacy and therefore appreciate these questions all-the-more. A book like this deserves inclusion upon library shelves. At a minimum, it has earned a place among my recommended books for readers on the autism spectrum.

What I found most valuable as someone on the spectrum were the essays by other autistic individuals who speak about their experience.

(As I suggested in another review, for The Sensory Child Gets Organized, readers need to consider the degree to which people with autism have direct involvement with any organization that claims to “speak” for autism.)

Several contributors to Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism are parents or professionals in the autism community, but those writers with an authentic status on the autism spectrum have top billing among qualifications. As the editors say, these autistic voices deserve “full attention, consideration, and respect.”

Disclosure of material connection: My taxes support my public library’s acquisition of this and other resources. I consider the access I enjoy to be a “priceless” return on my investment.

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