Without a doubt, ASD is an enigma – largely because it is unpredictable and so very varied. Any one individual with ASD may surprise us by their reactions and behaviour in differrent situations and with the passing of time. But it is an enigma that we are at least beginning to understand in terms of its enormity for those who are on the spectrum – its pervasive nature, which affects every aspect of their lives, and it’s permanence as a lifetime condition. Ann Cartwright, Jill Morgan
The teaching assistant’s guide to ASD, by Ann Cartwright and Jill Morgan was next in my personal study programme. 😀 It was a good choice, it complemented Alan Yau’s book perfectly, in a way that while the later was more practical, this one gave me more insight in the study on ASD. I’ve definitely learned a lot of new things, most of them quite surprising. Did you know that it’s a relatively young condition? Eugene Bleuler introduced the word ‘autism’ in 1912, when he described a characteristic which he found in many patients with schizophrenia: their inability to relate to, and connect with other people. However, only by 1943 it was recognised as a separate condition.
The book is written specifically for people who wish to increase their understanding of ASD and of the children it affects. It gives an ample overview of ASD and how our understanding of it has developed historically, through the work and writings of researches and practitioners, as well as parents and carers. There are also some myths busted, related to the condition. (Like the fact that autistic children are the result of cold-hearted mothers.)
The authors explain some of the common difficulties experienced by children with ASD – the effects it has on their lives and behaviour, and they present some new concepts as well. One of the best things about it is it’s workbook character. At the end of each chapter there is an opportunity for you to think about what you have read. This takes the form of a reflective journal entry. Each one has suggestions and questions to prompt your thinking, writing. The only negative thing I would have to say is that I was expecting a lot more practical suggestions, some strategies are mentioned, but not described. However, it has a very good ‘to read’ and ‘to watch’ section, which inludes Temple Grandin, a movie that earned a lot of praise a few years ago, and had a strong impression on me personally. It is worth reading if you are interested in the Autistic Spectrum Disorder.