Barry Prizant with Tom Fields-Meyer
Souvenir Press. Hardback. £20.
Pub. March 2016. 978 028564333 8
In this book we have a most readable and clear understanding of autism and the difficulties different levels of autistic conditions may present. However the great quality of this book is the focus on the child and understanding the situational behaviour. For behaviour, physical or verbal is communication and by recognising and understanding this there can be way forwards in helping the developmental processes to their full potential. Barry Prizant uses his forty years of working in and researching on the subject to examine case studies throughout the book on the differing situations and problems of his students, whether in family, work or educational situations. From the observations given he unravels the problem and offers/explains an appropriate solution. Usually the answers lie in understanding the motivation in the autistic person in the situation and using the positives within them to channel their development.
The authors lead us through the world of people that have different to average wiring (as it were) in their brains. Here we have the average population noted as Neurotypical and those covered in this book as autistic, noted as non- Neurotypical. Seemingly today 1 in 50 might be considered on the autistic spectrum, not that long ago thought of as 1 in 100 and prior to that 1 in 1000. ( We are talking synapse connections here, within different parts of the brain)
Travelling through the book is a bit like putting the lights on more brightly and seeing people so much more clearly. Chapters cover: ‘Why?’; ‘Listen’; ‘Enthusiasms’; ‘Social Understanding’; ‘The Real Experts’; among numerous others. Throughout, the emphasis is on understanding the person within the autism and also, to a great extent, listening to the parents as they will most frequently have an understanding of the difficulties and needs too. Helping to understand the chaos they may see in their world, offering strategies to cope with those things that come more naturally to others and helping to maintain a sense of security within that world rather than a sense of fear; all this in a book of a lifetime’s work.
There are many resources listed; publications by and for professionals and parents. Also websites listed in the book, some produced by people with autism and sites of organisations. A good start, though many are American they would be of interest here in the UK; although not in the book there now large numbers of sites and organisations based in the UK which are easily found.
This book is actually exciting to read as often what may have been unknown or mis-understood becomes blindingly obvious. Probably not easy to follow the paths of all those involved with or helping in autism but a great insight into the subject and a perspective on developmental psychology. My thanks to Barry Prizant, Tom Fields-Meyer and all others who are mentioned and the people involved the SCERTS model for their enlightened and enlightening approach to autism.
I could pull out lots of gems of information that would stand alone but there are so many that my typing would seem endless and still be a poor substitute for reading the book. The book is bursting with examples, case studies, to show difficulties faced and, dare I say it, seemingly simple solutions that help understand the world of autism. Simple that is, after forty years of learning to understand the worlds of autism. In fact it would also help in the so-called Neurotypical world.
The reviews on the cover give such praise of the book and Barry Prizant’s methods that they alone should encourage anyone involved in any aspect of teaching, developmental psychology, or the understanding of human life, to read Uniquely Human. Not only will you understand a little more about autism you will likely learn something about yourself.
This book is available online from specialist bookseller: BooksEducation