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Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism 1st Edition

4.9 out of 5 stars 95 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1476776231
ISBN-10: 1476776237
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Editorial Reviews


"From its first pages, Uniquely Human establishes itself as a must-read for anyone touched by autism...contains a trove of experiences that will resonate, offer ideas, give hope... This book is a crucial step in promoting better understanding and a more humane approach." (Associated Press)

"Refreshing--and constructive.... It should be required reading for all educators and practitioners working with autism....Breathtakingly simple and profoundly positive." (Chicago Tribune)

"Uniquely Human...details stories that will resonate with parents or loved ones when a child is first diagnosed with autism. Families may find Prizant’s approach...positive and uplifting." (Providence Journal)

"Prizant distils decades of working with autistic children and adults, and their teams, into practical advice for lowering stress, leveraging strengths and interests, building resilience, and importantly, embracing and celebrating difference...Prizant's is a message of empathy, support and empowerment...Prizant shows [that] such understanding creates a context in which people with ASD can thrive, not just survive." (Nature)

"A remarkable approach to autism....A truly impactful, necessary book." (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)

"Uplifting...This positive volume should reassure parents and caregivers of kids with autism and any other disability that their kids are not broken, but, indeed, special." (Booklist, starred review)

"Prizant is a respected voice in the autism community, and the methods demonstrated here are backed by case study and experience. Parents, especially parents of the newly diagnosed, may find a ray of hope in the often bleak landscape of early diagnosis and the endless search for answers and information that inevitably results." (Library Journal)

"Dr. Prizant explains the causes of behaviors associated with autism. I love his approach for understanding problems with sensory overload, anxiety and discomfort. He provides common sense, practical advice based on a 40-year career working in the trenches with both parents and teachers." (Temple Grandin, author of The Autistic Brain and The Way I See It)

"An excellent book that conveys what autism is like and how individuals with autism may be helped to build on their strengths and gain a greater social understanding. The approach involves much practical guidance for families and teachers, but it is refreshingly flexible and non-dogmatic." (Sir Michael Rutter, Professor of Developmental Psychopathology, King's College London)

"A masterful treatise advocating for necessary changes in the way we see, understand and provide services to persons with Autism. This is a book for all parents and persons providing professional services to individuals with significant disabilities, not just those with Autism. My hope is that this exceptional book will bring about the change in thinking and practice it is intended to do." (David E. Yoder, Ph.D., Chair and Professor Emeritus, Dept. of Allied Health Sciences, University of North Carolina School of Medicine)

"Uniquely Human is not just the perfect title for Barry Prizant's book, it's also an appropriate summation of Dr. Prizant's career. Though a clinical scholar, he is a humanist first, and always has been—a professional who is fascinated by unexamined lives that could be lived happily, yet aren't. With every brilliant, illuminating example in his book, he steers us away from the traditional fix-it mentality and towards the beatific, personally rewarding detective work that the entire spectrum world would be well served to adopt. Thanks be to Barry for the first-ever ‘must read’ written for parents, educators, and clinicians." (Michael John Carley, Founder, GRASP; Author of Asperger's From the Inside-Out)

“This is a wonderful book. Based on his own vast experience as a clinician working with children with autism and families, Barry Prizant offers a compassionate and insightful perspective on autism that many will find inspiring and hopeful. The book is filled with sound advice based on real world experience as well as research. Most importantly, it conveys a deep respect for persons on the autism spectrum and the qualities that make them special.” (Geraldine Dawson, PhD FAPA FAPS, Director, Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development, Duke University School of Medicine)

“In the plethora of autism books, Uniquely Human stands alone as it holds the parents in highest of regard and honors the true experts - those with autism themselves. It will be the first book I recommend to parents whose children are recently diagnosed, and it will be the last book that seasoned parents of adults with autism will need to read. Uniquely Human reminds us all of our humanity.” (Elaine Hall, parent, author, speaker, founder of The Miracle Project)

"This is by far the most empathic, wise, and insightful book I have ever read about autism, and is one of the most empathic and wise books I’ve ever read about being human. I can’t overstate the transformative power of this book: it breaks open the heart, extends vision where there was only fog, and inspires keen insight where there was only reflexive response." (Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson, Dean's Chair and Vice-President, American Jewish University and parent)

"A long-awaited tour-de-force that parts the ever-expanding sea of books on the topic of autism. A must-read for anyone who lives with and loves a person with autism, this book should also be required for anyone who is striving to be a competent and humanistic professional." (Pamela Wolfberg, Ph.D. Professor of Autism Spectrum Studies, San Francisco State University; Founding Director, Autism Institute on Peer Socialization and Play; Author, Play and Imagination in Children with Autism)

Elegant in its simplicity, Uniquely Human tackles extremely complex topics and how they impact school, home and community. Compassion, learning and supportive strategies--the three essentials for working with folks with ASD--are an integral part of this must-read book. (Michelle Garcia Winner, Speech Language Pathologist and Founder of Social Thinking®)

"Autism was initially described in 1943, and now with Uniquely Human, it is rediscovered 70 years later as a shared human experience. Autism is part of every community, and this tour of autism changes everything. Now, autism makes sense, and tomorrow looks a whole lot brighter for everyone. Stop what you are doing. Read this book. It’s a masterpiece." (Carol Gray, Developer of Social Stories™, International Consultant to Individuals with Autism)

“Uniquely Human is an amazing book! It will change our perception and understanding of autism. Barry Prizant has an intuitive understanding of autism spectrum disorders and the wisdom of four decades of experience. I strongly recommend this book to parents and professionals and congratulate Barry for writing the book that needed to be written". (Tony Attwood, Ph.D., author of The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome)

“The reverence that Dr. Prizant brings to his work with individuals with autism and their families leaps out from every page of this remarkable book, enabling him to tell the story of autism in a deeply personal way that is at once inspirational and informative. The engaging, real-life examples interspersed throughout the book serve both to illuminate the experience of autism from the inside out, and to expose the folly of viewing behavior separate and apart from the motivation that fuels it. That is epochal!" (Diane Twachtman-Cullen, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, Editor-in-Chief, Autism Spectrum Quarterly)

"From the master clinician and scholar who taught us how to channel different learning styles into successful lives of learning and adaptation, Uniquely Human shines a light onto the vast possibilities of people with autism, showing that their lives represent opportunities, not disabilities; promise, not doom. Heed his detailed guidance because therein lies not only the secret for the fulfillment of every child’s promise, but also the fulfillment of the promise of our entire society.” (Ami Klin PhD, Director, Marcus Autism Center, Professor & Chief, Division of Autism and Related Disorders Department of Pediatrics, Emory University School of Medicine)

About the Author

Barry M. Prizant, PhD, CCC-SLP, is among the world’s leading authorities on autism, with more than forty years of experience as a scholar, researcher, and international consultant. He is an adjunct professor at Brown University and coauthor of The SCERTS Model: A Comprehensive Educational Approach, now being implemented in more than a dozen countries. Dr. Prizant has published more than 120 articles and chapters and has received many awards. The author of Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism, Dr. Prizant lives in Cranston, Rhode Island, with his wife, Dr. Elaine Meyer, and their teenage son.

Tom Fields-Meyer is author of the critically acclaimed memoir Following Ezra: What One Father Learned About Gumby, Otters, Autism, and Love from His Extraordinary Son, a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award. His work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post. The coauthor (with Barry M. Prizant) of Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism, and former senior writer for People, he lives in Los Angeles, where he teaches in the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1 edition (August 4, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476776237
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476776231
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,619 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My son was diagnosed with ASD in January 2012 and it took us 3 years to put all the "pieces" together to get where we are today. Many of that 3 years of exploration, failure and discovery could have been reduced in duration if we had access to Dr. Pizant's book.

So many therapists (both in school and private operations) don't "get it". They focus on the deficits and "extinguishing behaviors" when they should be asking "why is that behavior present"? My wife and I finally figured much of it out after trying therapy after therapy and enduring years of meltdowns and stress.

The "answers" for our son were
1) Our son has sensory over-responsivity. Parties, amusement parks, recess are all massively over-stimulating and stressful. We don't avoid these things but know he can handle only a few hours.
2) He has some challenges reading and absolutely hated to do it UNTIL we discovered how to use his "enthusiasms" e.g. Star Wars, Minecraft, World War 2, to get his engagement
3) He can relate better to folks if they meet him in "his world" - from there he comes to trust you and is willing to enter your world.

We just finished a two-week trip to Europe where we employed lots of sensory supports (e.g. ear muffs), using a rental car rather than public transportation (which is loud, somewhat 'unpredictable' and out of our control), we alternated "big" sensory days (e.g. amusement parks) with "low" sensory days - watching TV and going to the pool. And he had NOT ONE meltdown.

We had to discover all of these strategies by ourselves largely.
Having more folks like Dr. Prizant we could have discovered these strategies MUCH earlier.
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Format: Hardcover
The word "Human" herein is critical. 1. Prior books aimed at a similar audience (educators and parents of children on the autism spectrum) have had varying degrees of success; but while at best, the clinicians humanely write clinically, and the parents humanely write as parents, Dr. Prizant is a clinical pro and not a parent, yet he combines his clinical mind with a parent's humanitarian need to break spectrum behaviors down into—yes—human nature, because these are human beings we are talking about. Herein he shows us that there are two types of behaviorists: Those who have the energy to conduct the detective work needed to find the human origins of a behavior, or those without that energy who are charged merely to "fix" the behavior no matter what the internal cost to the individual. 2. He will take heat for not (even once!) engaging in the unnecessary demonization of the diagnosis itself. And so humanely overwhelmed parents of significantly-challenged kids—those clinically depressed parents without supports (thinly disguised as the "warrior" crowd)—might take a shot or two at him. 3. Dr. Prizant's clinical career is illusionary, a cover; for a first-rate humanitarian.

Disclaimer: I'm in the book. Promise: I'd write this if I wasn't (I'm on the spectrum, and most of us suck at lying). Dr. Prizant is finally off my list (was 3, now 2) of autism pros who need to write books, yet haven't.

A must-read for parents and educators.

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Format: Hardcover
Humane, sensitive, respectful. I enjoyed especially the section on listening; so poignant with wonderful examples and such a key and under attended to concept to write about in this context, and the section on emotional memory. Wisdom to learn from and celebrate throughout.

Karen Levine, Ph.D.
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Format: Hardcover
The world is a better place when people with knowledge and wisdom share their intellect and experiences. Uniquely Human is a must-read for parents, siblings, grandparents, care givers and professionals who are toiling daily in the trenches of life with loved ones enduring the complexities of autism. Dr. Prizant provides a wealth of information on autism in an understandable format, delivered with warmth and humanity. If you are one of the many seeking insight into a field that has defied easy explanations and solutions – this book if for you. (Arnold S. Schickler, Founder and CEO of Autism Community Experience, Inc.)
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Format: Hardcover
Can't wait to re-read Uniquely Human. Barry M Prizant shares vignettes from his decades long career working with people on the autistic spectrum. Although he focuses on ASD, much in his book is applicable to all parenting and working with the unique aspects of all people. I found his book inspirational and applicable to parenting and teaching all kids.
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Format: Hardcover
This is excellent. I describes what to do instead of just falling back on "it is just a behavior." If I would have read this book at the time of diagnosis, we would have been much better off. A must read for parents, teachers, and therapists. A game changer. Nice combination of an expert's experiences mixed with the point of view of people with autism (because he took the time to get to know people with autism and why they do what they do).
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I love this book. It's a must-read for any parent, educator, caregiver, family member, friend or anyone touched by autism (and special needs, too). This is paradigm-shifting in every way, beautifully written by a brilliant author.
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