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Autistic Spectrum Disorders in Children
(Pediatric Habilitation Series Volume 12)
Editor: Vidya Bhushan Gupta
Pages: 328  Hard Cover
ISBN: 0824750616
Marcel Dekker  2004

Reviewed By:  Alan Artru, M.D.
                           Professor of Anesthesiology
                           University of Washington School of Medicine

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     This textbook is part of a series of books entitled Pediatric Habilitation. The series currently includes 12 textbooks and additional volumes are in preparation. This book on autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is edited by Vidya Bhusha1 Gupta, who is also the first author of 5 of the 14 chapters. Other first authors are Tanya Karapurkar, Chris Plauche Johnson, Pasquale J. Accardo, Alfred L. Scherzer, John M. Suozzi, Elaine Dolgin Schneider, Patricia M. Stevens, and Catherine Trapani. The book contains 337 pages, many tables and a small number of figures, which are of average quality.

     In the preface the editor states the purpose of the book is to “bridge the gap between science and strategy” using a “broad, multidisciplinary perspective.” The aim of the book is to “serve both the inquisitive, who want to explore the complex maze of autism, and the practical, who in the trenches provide services to children with autistic spectrum disorder.” To meet these goals “some contributors have presented in depth the relevant scientific research available on the subject, while others have focused on practical guidelines to professionals to diagnose and manage children with autistic spectrum disorders in the context of current scientific research and health care climate.”

     The general character of this book is exemplified by chapter 13, “Planning Education Programs for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder.” Several approaches could have been used to organize the treatment of this topic: (1) review various educational approaches and their outcomes, compare the outcomes statistically, and conclude which approaches are effective; (2) qualitatively review the positive and negative attributes of a wide variety of programs; (3) provide an overview of available programs, categorize the programs, and provide references so interested readers can obtain additional information; and (4) present a point-by-point instructional guide for creating an education program based on successes and failures of previously reported programs. The majority of the chapters in this book take the third approach. As regards the division between “scientific” and “practical” outlined in the preface, 4 out of 14 chapters in this book might best be considered to be of the first type and the remainder to be of the second type.

     The first chapter, “History, Definition, and Classification of Autism Spectrum Disorder” is excellent. The style is engaging and the text offers unique insight into the history of ASD and the personalities of persons who played major roles in that history. Chapter 2, “The Epidemiology of Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorders” is comprehensive, reading somewhat like a statistics textbook. Chapter 3, “Etiology of Autism” is thorough considering there is so much that is not known about ASD. Chapter 4, “Neurological Basis of Autism” was a favorite of mine due to my research interest in this area. While being very thorough, the chapter provides minimal information derived from MRI spectroscopy studies. Chapter 5, “Early Clinical Characteristics of Children with Autism” is particularly good, being both instructive and instructional. Chapter 6, “Screening and Diagnosis for Autistic Spectrum Disorders” is instructive and while it re-presents some information from chapters five and others, the re-presentation is necessary and helpful. Chapter 7, “Informing, Educating, and Supporting the Family” contains helpful commentaries some of which seems somewhat self-evident. Chapter 8, “Behavioral and Educational Interventions for Young Children with Autism” contains some sections that are instructive and instructional, and some overview sections. Chapter 9, “Communication Disorders in Children with Autism: Characteristics, Assessment, Treatment” is comprehensive with some sections being encyclopedic. Chapter 10, “Sensory Integration and Occupational Therapy Intervention of Autistic Spectrum Disorders” is another engaging chapter, containing quotes of personal experiences from persons with ASD. Chapter 11, “Drug Therapy (Pharmacotherapy) of Autistic Spectrum Disorders” is a well-referenced review. Provision of diagrams of possible biochemical sites of action and interaction would have enhanced this chapter. Chapter 12, “Complementary and Alternative Treatments for Autism” offers balanced, common sense commentary. Chapter 13, “Planning Education Programs of Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder” provides a nice overview (as discussed above). Chapter 14, “Science as a Candle in the Dark: Evidence-Based Approach to Evaluating Interventions” contains superbly organized and referenced critical review of four interventions: TEACCH, sensory integration therapy, megavitamin and rapid-prompt.


Ratings (1-4 , 4 being the highest):

Organization of information:    3

Usefulness of book:     2

Suitable for intended audience:    3

Author’s objectives met:      3

Significant number of illustrations:     2

Quality of illustrations:    3


Table of Contents: 

Chapter 1.     History, Definition, and Classification of Autistic Spectrum Disorders

Chapter 2.     The Epidemiology of Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorders

Chapter 3.     Etiology of Autism

Chapter 4.     Neurological Basis of Autism

Chapter 5.     Early Clinical Characteristics of Children with Autism

Chapter 6.     Screening and Diagnosis for Autistic Spectrum Disorders

Chapter 7.     Informing, Educating, and Supporting the Family

Chapter 8.     Behavioral and Educational Interventions for Young Children with Autism

Chapter 9.     Communication Disorders in Children with Autism:  Characteristics, Assessment, Treatment

Chapter 10.   Sensory Integration and Occupational Therapy Intervention for Autistic Spectrum Disorders

Chapter 11.   Drug Therapy (Pharmacotherapy) of Autistic Spectrum Disorders

Chapter 12.   Complementary and Alternative Treatments for Autism

Chapter 13.   Planning Education Programs for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Chapter 14.   Science as a Candle in the Dark:  Evidence-Based Approach to Evaluating Interventions

Appendix:  Prognosis in Autistic Spectrum Disorders

Other reference books about Autism Spectrum Disorders


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