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Treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders

Sand-Loud, Nina MD

Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics: February/March 2014 - Volume 35 - Issue 2 - p 162
doi: 10.1097/DBP.0000000000000042
Book Review

Division of Neurology and Child Development, Children's Hospital at Dartmouth, Hanover, NH

Disclosure: The author declares no conflict of interest.

This text edited by Prelock and McCauley is one in the Communication and Language Intervention series developed to provide evidence-based intervention strategies for communication and social interactions to a wide range of audience. Each chapter in the book is written by a different expert in the field of treatment for children with autism spectrum disorders, although chapters share a similar framework. The authors presume that readers have a basic knowledge of autism spectrum disorders and areas of need, although the book was written pre-DSM-5 diagnostic criteria, and so older terminology is used.

Chapters represent those educational and therapeutic strategies used to treat children and young adults with autism spectrum disorders for which there is some evidence-based knowledge. Each chapter opens with background definitions and explanations of the foundations and philosophies behind the intervention. The chapter then proceeds to review research support and any controversies regarding the strategy. A detailed explanation about application of the treatment methods then follows along with case examples both for younger and older individuals. The book has an accompanying DVD, and so interventions can be “seen in action,” which is a great addition to simply reading and imagining the educational techniques. The book also makes useful references to other websites to help readers gain additional knowledge in specific areas. Each chapter then has a small section exploring considerations for children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Most chapters cite a lack of research evidence in that area, although for some strategies (such as the Developmental, Individual-Difference, Relationship-Based model), describe their practice in many countries. Each chapter ends with learning activities. These activities provide the reader the opportunity to think more deeply about individual teaching methods and how they can be applied to a variety of populations. The learning strategies also provide clinicians as teachers' great tools to use in an educational setting as a basis for further discussion.

The book begins with an introduction to treatment of autism spectrum disorders and briefly reviews all the therapeutic methods to follow. Some chapters review a broad category of treatments such as the chapter on augmentative and alternative communication strategies. This chapter reviews a wide range of treatments from manual signs to picture communication strategies and to speech generating devices. Other chapters are more narrow examining a specific treatment such as the Picture Exchange Communication system, the Early Social Interaction Project and the use of Social Stories. The chapter on Social Stories refers specifically to the trademarked strategy introduced by Carol Gray; however, gives a detailed background to this method and provides much evidence-based support to the use and benefits of staying true to the specific method. The chapter on elementary behavioral intervention strategies is a great review of the wide variety of behavioral treatments that are available and a detailed explanation of the psychological foundations of such treatments. The book concludes by looking towards future directions both in terms of research and the development of novel interventions.

Although this book is described as written for a range of audience including parents and families, frontline professionals, students and professors, it does require a fairly extensive background knowledge of autism spectrum disorders. Each chapter has a detailed background explanation of intervention fundamentals, but then it also provides an enormously in-depth review of the treatment method. The language can be moderately technical at times, which can be daunting. An advantage of the multiauthor format is that each chapter can stand alone. Therefore, if a reader has a particular interest in any 1 intervention technique, or in only some of the treatments, each chapter read alone provides a high-quality knowledge base. Overall, this text provides a helpful, detailed review of evidence-based treatments of autism spectrum disorders with a nice format combining clinical evaluations, applications, and visual reinforcement with the use of the accompanying DVD.

© 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins