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Helping Children with Autism Learn

Treatment Approaches for Parents and Professionals

Bryna Siegel

Publication Date - April 2007

ISBN: 9780195325065

512 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

Retail Price to Students: $30.95

A leading authority on autism offers practical, reliable advice on coping with learning disorders associated with autism


Bryna Siegel gives parents of autistic children what they need most: hope. Her first book, The World of the Autistic Child, became an instant classic, illuminating the inaccessible minds of afflicted children. Now she offers an equally insightful, thoroughly practical guide to treating the learning disabilities associated with this heartbreaking disorder.

The trouble with treating autism, Siegel writes, is that it is a spectrum disorder--a combination of a number of symptoms and causes. To one extent or another, it robs the child of social bonds, language, and intimacy--but the extent varies dramatically in each case. The key is to understand each case of autism as a discrete set of learning disabilities, each of which must be treated individually. Siegel explains how to take an inventory of a child's particular disabilities, breaks down the various kinds unique to autism, discusses our current knowledge about each, and reviews the existing strategies for treating them. There is no simple cure for this multifarious disorder, she writes; instead, an individual program, with a unique array of specific treatments, must be constructed for each child. She gives practical guidance for fashioning such a program, empowering parents to take the lead in their child's treatment. At the same time, she cautions against the proliferating, but questionable, treatments hawked to afflicted families. She knows the panic to do something, anything, to help an autistic child, and she offers parents reassurance and support as well as sensible advice, combining knowledge from experience, theory and research.

For parents, autism in a child is heartbreaking. But it need not be overwhelming. Bryna Siegel offers a new understanding, and a practical, thoughtful approach that will give parents new hope.

About the Author(s)

Bryna Siegel is Director of the Autism Clinic at Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute, University of California, San Francisco, and is the author of The World of the Autistic Child, which sold over 50,000 copies.


"Besides writing in an accessible and often lighthearted style, Siegel has established an excellent and clearly defined structure for each chapter, providing a concise overview, thorough descriptions, and conclusions that help bridge the gap between readers with different backgrounds and familiarity with ASD."--Library Journal (starred review)

"This book contains an abundance of clearly written, easy to understand information for educating the child with autism."--Temple Gradin, author of Thinking in Pictures

"This is a very positive book--sensitive to the dilemmas that children with autism face and positive about their ability to learn and adapt. It focuses on solutions to the challenges that autism presents, solutions that lead to new learning and adapting. Siegel's conversational style of language makes the book highly accessible for parents, teachers, and the various interventionists who serve children with autism. Her description of the matrix of abilities and disabilities--how the core neuropsychological features of autism come together to create patterns of strengths and weaknesses--demystifies some of the puzzle of autism. She draws the outline of the separate pieces and shows how they fit together to form both the familiar pattern of autism that clinicians recognize but also the individual profile that defines each individual person with autism."--Sally Rogers, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, The M.I.N.D. Institute, University of California Davis Medical Center

"Bryna Siegel has made a thoughtful and learned analysis of the unique and perplexing learning strengths and weaknesses exemplified by the autism spectrum. Her book makes a valuable contribution to parents and professionals searching for clarification."--Eric Schopler, Founder and Co-Director, Division TEACCH, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

"The landscape of educational and treatment options for children with autism spectrum disorders is complex and often overwhelming for parents and professionals. Drawing from her many years of experience, Dr. Siegel provides a helpful guide for making decisions about directions in educational programming."--Barry M. Prizant, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, Director, Childhood Communication Services and Adjunct Professor, Center for the Study of Human Development, Brown University

"Gives practical guidance for fashioning ... a program, empowering parents to take the lead in their child's treatment."--Adolescence

Table of Contents

    Part 1
    The Fundamentals of Autistic Learning Styles
    1. Understanding the Origins of Autism and Its Meaning for Development
    2. When Atypical Development and Typical Development Cross Paths
    3. Autistic Learning Disabilities Defined: How Strengths Compensate for Weaknesses and Form Autism
    Part 2
    Autistic Learning Disabilities and Autistic Learning Styles: What Makes the World of the Autistic Child Different?
    4. Social Autistic Learning Disabilities: Description and Treatment
    5. Autistic Learning Disabilities of Communication
    6. Autistic Learning Disabilities of Communication: Treatments for the Pre-Verbal and Non-Verbal Child
    7. Autistic Learning Disabilities of Communication: Treatments for the Verbal Child
    8. Autistic Learning Disabilities in Relating to the World of Objects: Description and Treatment
    9. Autistic Learning Disabilities and the Skills of Daily Living
    Part 3
    Methods of Teaching Children with Autism: How They Address Autistic Learning Disabilities and Autistic Learning Styles
    10. Applied Behavior Analysis and Discrete Trial Training: Separating Methods from Curriculum
    11. The TEACCH Curriculum
    12. Mainstreaming that Works: Too Accommodating or Really Including?
    13. Model Programs and Exemplary Classes: What Can We Learn?
    14. Putting the 'I' Back in IEP: Creating Individualized, Meaningful Learning Experiences
    Further Readings for Teachers, Parents, and Professionals
    Appendix A: Autistic Learning Disabilities Inventory