By Shirley Cohen University of California Press, 2002 Review by Susan Lesco on Sep 11th 2003
In her updated edition of Targeting Autism, Shirley Cohen presents
a pragmatic, objective, yet empathic introduction to life with this baffling
gamut of neuro-biological disorders. The author, who is a university professor
of special education, draws on her own experience as well as that of prominent
and private individuals who have, live with, or treat autism. Cohen
acknowledges and explains what she calls "the mysterious code of
autism" as a spectrum of disorders, with similar characteristics that
affect each individual and family in extremely different ways. She states,
"One of the most striking aspects of the condition (or conditions)
labeled 'autism' is its variability. What then do people called autistic have
in common?" Cohen examines the
answers to this and many other questions about autism that parents, educators
and other professionals continue to pose.
In the first of this three-part
book, Shirley Cohen uses specific examples to illustrate each of the core
deficits of autism spectrum disorders.
She discusses Autistic Disorder, Asperger's Syndrome, Pervasive
Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), and explanations of
their affects on individuals and families. One of the chapters in part two,
"Is Lovaas the Only Game in Town?", examines the pros, cons, and reported
outcomes of a variety of programs such as the TEACCH (Treatment and Education
of Autistic and Related Communication-Handicapped Children) intervention
system, ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis), PECS (Picture Exchange Communication
System), and " 'alternative' treatments like auditory integration
training." In part three, Cohen
offers her own suggestions for policy revisions, specific educational
interventions for children and "person centered planning" options for
adults with autism.
Albeit Targeting Autism is primarily geared toward parents new to the
world of autism, its comprehensive and impartial analysis of research findings,
treatment options and a myriad of controversial issues is useful for anyone
interested in the topic. Shirley Cohen captures the essence of the delicate
balance between accepting realistic treatment outcomes, hoping for recovery,
and defining quality of life with autism.
This book is a valuable resource for parents, friends, families and
advocates with a quest to build an up-to-date, balanced, and solid foundation
of knowledge about autism spectrum disorders.