A Positive Approach to Autism


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Table of Contents

Foreword, Donna Williams. Introduction. 1. Investigation. 2. Theories and ideas. 3. Analysis and discussion. 4. Hypotheses. 5. Diagnosis. 6. Treatment. 7. Implications. 8. Conclusion. Appendices. Bibliography. Index.

About the Author

Stella Waterhouse has taught young children with learning disabilities and spent ten years working with emotionally disturbed adolescent boys. After five years as first Senior Care Officer, then Deputy Principal, of a community providing residential care and training to adults and teenagers with autism, she began to research the various problems they experienced in order to write this book: a project which has since led her to develop a service providing help and advice for people with autism and related disorders.


This is indeed a very positive book by Stella Waterhouse, who has spent many years teaching children with learning disabilities and emotional problems.The argument of the book is that children with autism are not mentally handicapped, but rather normal children whose problems leave them isolated and unable to express or understand even their own feelings due to a special response to anxiety. An interesting review for parents or professionals working with autism.
*International Journal of Adolescent Medicine & Health*

Her approach is professional and authoritative without being authoritarian. Drawing on numerous first-person accounts of autism, such as those by Donna Williams, Jasmine O'Neill, and Temple Grandin, she argues that much autistic behaviour is an attempt to cope with an overwhelming range of stimuli which creates an unbearable anxiety. In Waterhouse's perspective, then, such practices as holding therapy, where an autistic individual is held tightly despite her/his struggles, or Lovaas therapy, with its intense focus on modifying the behaviours of the person with autism, are intrusive approaches that often generate more anxiety and, thus, further entrench a defensive response to the world. Facilitated communication, on the other hand, can help relieve anxiety and, thus, is a positive strategy for dealing with autism...Waterhouse is an engaging, likeable writer with important things to say to anyone who is involved with autism.
*Disabilities Study Quarterly*

I read this book and saw an extremely well-researched and up-to-date view of both the symptoms (and presentation of symptoms) of autism, and the wide variety of theories relating to the possible causes and interventions currently being used with people with autism. The approach taken is slightly different from what has been written on the subject before because, as well as combining empirical research on autism, its symptoms, possible causes and interventions, the author throughout stresses the importance of the individual experiences of people with autism.

The author uses the knowledge she has acquired of her patients' multiple problems as the starting point of an exploratory journey in which she presents us with the most salient theories and ideas that exist with regard to the causality of autism. This she follows with a critical analysis and discussion where she acknowledges the contradictions and shortcomings many of these theories suffer from. She has sensibly steered clear of making any claims that any of her discussions or reviews is exhaustive or definitive and instead she refers the reader to her original sources of information. This is an ambitious, informative and refreshing book that could not have come at a better time and it is aimed at clinicians, patients and parents alike. We are encountering an exciting era where autistic spectrum disorders are more readily identified and a variety of treatments are proposed.
*Young Minds Magazine*

An interesting aspect of the book is the comparison made between autism and other conditions with some similar features; such as obsessive compulsive disorder, attention deficit disorder and perceptual problems. One of the features that makes this book powerful reading, is the numerous real life accounts. The book is well referenced and offers a range of material in the bibliography to allow the reader to gain further information. This book is a must for all public libraries. People with the condition, their carers and their friends and relatives should have ready access to a comprehensive account of autism, which this book certainly provides.
*Community Practitioner*

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