Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Book Review (#5 of 2013) Autism and Asperger Syndrome: The Facts by Simon Baron-Cohen

This is as informative a book in as small a number of pages as I've ever read. Baron-Cohen is Director of the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge. I first heard of him in a Five Books interview. The ARC website has a great database of scientific research into the nature of the autism spectrum. Baron-Cohen also helped produce The Transporters, a video series designed to teach autistic kids to recognize emotions, which my 4 year old son loves.

Cohen is author of a couple psychological theories about autism, but presents all the main theories and shows their overlap and weaknesses.  He also presents the neuroscience-- what brain scans, chemical tests, and autopsies are telling us about people in the autism spectrum. Cohen is humble in what he presents, and also humble in his skepticism of the quasi-scientific hypotheses that are out there. That's why the ARC website is so critical, you can see what actual well-designed, random, double-blind tests show as opposed to, say, a parental survey presented by opportunistic "experts" eager to make money or sell their diet plan. There is a deficit in qualified research, but the field is rapidly growing.

Our 4 year old is currently on a waiting list for a potential diagnosis, so my wife and I have been trying to get factual information quickly. This book was VERY helpful ad contains links to further resources. I highly recommend it as a starting point. Five stars out of five.

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