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by Mitzi Waltz
Patient-Centered Guides, 2002
Review by Peter Wigg on Jul 15th 2003

Autistic Spectrum Disorders

In the preface the author, Mitzi Waltz states, "the intention of this book is to bring together all the basic information" about Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).  By providing an expansive coverage of the broad array of issues related to ASD she has accomplished this goal.  The book is inclusive in its coverage of many topics including medical facts about autism, how to obtain a diagnosis and pitfalls to avoid, as well as medical, therapeutic and educational interventions.  She does not shy away from controversial topics but cites scientific studies along with cautionary comments when an intervention has not been scientifically tested.  She provides both sides to a controversy such as the pros and cons of immunization and leaves it up to the reader to decide if they wish to pursue a topic in more detail. 

Because there is coverage of a wide variety of topics the text at times lacks depth.  There were moments when this reviewer wanted to know more about a topic.  The author addressed this by including Internet websites or other resources for more extended information.  The appendixes include 150 pages of additional resources and references. 

The text is highly readable, medical and psychological terms are defined within the paragraph where they appear.  The words of parents are used to share their experience through stories or quotes, which adds a personal perspective and enlivens the material. 

The tone of the book is positive, yet realistic.  Waltz states that " People in the autistic spectrum are all unique and wonderful individuals many with special talents to share and each with a right to be accepted."  She emphasizes that improvement can be achieved even while stating, "all goals can't be achieved at once."   She also acknowledges the emotional turmoil that parents and caregivers experience.

Waltz has also sprinkled throughout and specifically targeted the importance of parents becoming advocates.  As with other topics she explains how to advocate and prepares parents with information about their rights and current laws as well as questions to consider when forming a strategy.

This text would be valuable to parents who have a son or daughter who has recently been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.  It would also be a good resource for those parents who second-guess their decisions or those looking for more help for their son or daughter.  This text may reassure them that they are on the right road or it may result in a discovery of a better intervention.  This text would be informative for professionals who have discovered autism and would like to learn more about the spectrum of related issues.

 

©2003 Peter Wigg

 

Peter Wigg has worked in the field of developmental disabilities for over 20 years.  His drive to provide quality services lead him to return to school; he is in the final stages of his doctorate in clinical psychology.  He has worked for the past two years at the Cody Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities where he has specialized in working with adolescents and adults diagnosed with Asperger's Disorder.  His experience includes individual psychotherapy, social skills groups, school consultation, and program development.