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Helping Children with Autism Learn: Treatment Approaches for Parents and Professionals    by Dr. Bryna Siegel order for
Helping Children with Autism Learn
by Bryna Siegel
Order:  USA  Can
Oxford University, 2003 (2003)

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Dr. Bryna Siegel, University of California Professor of Psychiatry and Director of its Autism Clinic, offers a practical guide to helping autistic children by treating specific learning disorders. Though the book, at 482 pages, is a bit of a tome, its depth and detail will be very welcome to parents, teachers, and various practitioners, who must deal daily with the heartbreaking difficulties faced by children diagnosed with different degrees of autism.

The author's focus is to treat symptoms, which are also present to a lesser extent in kids diagnosed with such difficulties as pervasive developmental disorder (PDD), Asperger's etc.. Dr. Siegel emphasizes the importance of intensive and early intervention, to allow 'transfer of function', and explains various teaching strategies that help 'reshape the brain'. She explains the value of an analysis of 'autistic learning disabilities' (which are different for every child) to help develop specific strategies (including 'Visual Interaction Augmentation') for teaching an individual child. Diagnostic methods and treatment options are discussed in detail, and Dr. Siegel helps the reader to understand what it's like to be in the world of the autistic child.

The last part of the book examines and compares well-known methods for treating autism, including 'Applied Behavior Analysis and Discrete Trial Training' (ABA/DTT) and 'The TEACCH Curriculum' The author discusses issues in mainstreaming and inclusion with respect to autism. She covers model programs throughout the United States, with effective collaboration between home and school resources, and examines the success of 'micromanaging moms'. At the back of this invaluable resource are references for further reading and an 'Autistic Learning Disabilities Inventory'. Dr. Siegel ends her excellent treatment guide with the important reminder that 'each child with autism is an individual first.'

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