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Autistic Spectrum Disorders

CAPHIS Reviews
the First Edition of
Autistic Spectrum Disorders

CAPHIS, the consumer health section of the Medical Librarian Association, reviewed the first edition of Autistic Spectrum Disorders: Understanding the Diagnosis and Getting Help. That first edition was titled Pervasive Developmental Disorders.

The second edition has just been published (July 2002) and received a starred review from Library Journal in the July 2002 issue.

It is estimated that one out of every 1000 children in the US has a Pervasive Developmental Disorder or PDD, a label that includes autism and a range of other neurological conditions. A significant number of children (and adults) do not meet the diagnostic criteria for autism and a diagnosis of Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) is reached by ruling out known, specific PDDs such as Asperger's Syndrome, Fragile X and Rett Syndrome.

Paying specific attention to PDD-NOS and atypical PDD, this thirteen-chapter guide covers facts about PDDs, including a broad overview of the entire PDD spectrum, how a diagnosis is reached, drug and non-drug treatments, insurance, school, family issues, finances, and support systems.

Waltz, the mother of an 11-year-old diagnosed with PDD-NOS, weaves together throughout the text her own experiences, those of other parents of PDD children, and those of adults diagnosed with PDDs. For the parent of a child diagnosed with PDD, this book offers not just well researched information but practical advice on coping, and a wealth of additional resources. Waltz doesn't just describe various therapies; she tells us which ones are reliable and have documented results, and which ones to avoid and why. She gives tips for daily life - from bathing and toe clipping, to sexuality and relationships, to employment and school. In the final chapter, she lets adults and children with PDDs describe their own experiences and in so doing, provides a unique insight into their world.

While most of the information contained in the book is intended for a US audience, Waltz has also provided information from other countries, especially Canada, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand. In addition to providing comprehensive information in the main body of the text, the author also provides six comprehensive appendices. These include an annotated list of print and electronic resources (with advice on which are general and which ones may be good for one thing only); addresses and contact information for support and advocacy groups; a list of research and testing facilities; an extensive, annotated list of medications (mainstream and alternative) and their use, side effects and actions; and reprints of 2 diagnostic tests used in autistic spectrum disorders. Bibliographic references, a glossary and index complete this text.

Waltz has produced a highly informative and clearly written guide. She far exceeds her aim of bringing together "basic information needed by parents of a child diagnosed with PDD, adults with PDDs and professionals working with individuals with PDDs." Highly recommended.

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