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Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism Hardcover – August 4, 2015
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"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)
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.
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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.
My one suggestion is that the book seems to under-estimate the effort that comes with convincing (often intransigent and overworked) schools to try new approaches. That more than anything was the most stressful part of the journey - because that's where our son receives the most "therapy" time. And if you can't get those changes done you have to either move schools, move district or home-school. In the end, the school system we attended could not put him in a smaller classroom with peers so we had to involve a professional advocate and lawyers to get an outplacement.
Sometimes you can be "positive" minded as much as you want but the school administration needs to know you will do all you can to get what your child needs.
That said, I plan to buy three or four copies for many of the autism therapists in our world. If everyone could adopt Dr. Prizant's viewpoint I think special needs educators would achieve massive improvements in results and parent's lives could become much less stressed and uncertain.