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Book Summary: Uniquely Human – A Different Way of Seeing Autism

Uniquely Human (2015) is your guide to understanding autism and how it affects the people who live with it. These summaries examine the everyday challenges faced by people on the autism spectrum, and looks at how the people in their lives, from family to teachers and aides, can support and encourage them. Listen to Uniquely Human: The Podcast.

Book Summary: Uniquely Human - A Different Way of Seeing Autism

Content Summary

Who is it for?
What’s in it for me? Learn how to be uniquely humane with the uniquely human.
Instead of trying to control autistic people, we can help by understanding their behavior.
Listening to those with autism is a vital step in supporting them.
People on the spectrum struggle with subtle social cues, so direct communication is essential.
You can support people with autism by limiting unpredictability and putting them in control.
Encouraging someone with autism to build on their enthusiasm can have incredible outcomes.
Some people are naturals at connecting with those with autism, and they all share certain traits.
Final summary
About the author
Overview
Read an Excerpt
Review
Genres

Who is it for?

  • Parents and siblings of autistic children
  • Psychology students
  • Special needs aides and teachers

What’s in it for me? Learn how to be uniquely humane with the uniquely human.

Have you ever seen the film Rain Man? Or do you perhaps know someone with autism in real life? If so, you know that autistic individuals tend to share unusual habits, abilities and quirks. Some, like the main character in Rain Man, have seemingly impossible mathematical skills and can instantly solve a complex math problem with little more than a glance.

But for others, the result of living with autism might be less socially desirable, and could include habits like muttering the same nonsensical phrase over and over again.

In these summaries, we’ll take a look at what causes such seemingly inexplicable behaviors. You’ll learn why these behaviors are often just variations of the habits everyone has – like organizing and cleaning thoroughly when they feel anxious – to help cope with the overwhelming thoughts or emotions.

You’ll also learn

  • why subtlety isn’t a virtue among people with autism;
  • why teaching autistic people to call 911 has unexpected challenges; and
  • why experts aren’t always the best people to help those on the autism spectrum.

Instead of trying to control autistic people, we can help by understanding their behavior.

If you’ve ever met someone on the autism spectrum, you know that their behavior, whether it comes in the form of repeating words or becoming overly excited for no apparent reason, can be difficult to predict.

But why does autism cause such symptoms?

Well, autistic people have a difficult time regulating their emotions, which means that all of their feelings tend to be more extreme. Just consider feelings like confusion, fear or distress; while everybody experiences these feelings sometimes, most people learn how to handle them – to some extent at least – early on in life.

However, for people on the autism spectrum, it’s more challenging to filter stimulation, which leaves them vulnerable and sensitive to all that goes on around them.

The inability to deal with such feelings is called emotional dysregulation, and it’s primarily triggered by sudden environmental changes, uncertainty or situations that engage an autistic person’s already heightened senses. Some examples are loud sounds or spaces that are too bright.

When such factors spur an autistic person’s emotional dysregulation, the key to helping them is to root out the underlying cause. What you definitely shouldn’t do is dismiss or try to “fix” their behavior.

After all, when a person with autism reacts in a sudden, unexpected way, say by falling to the floor or clapping her hands repeatedly, it’s not an intentional act of disobedience, but rather an attempt to calm herself down after experiencing something that caused overwhelming nervousness.

Take Lucy as an example. She is a child with autism who was being physically aggressive with her teachers. When the author visited her, the problem was clear: when Lucy was playing a game, such as a card game, her teachers would change it repeatedly, altering the rules without warning.

Since autistic people need routines to give them a sense of reliability, maintaining a controlled environment is one of their primary coping strategies. In other words, Lucy didn’t intend to attack anyone; she was simply in a state of profound confusion and panic.

Listening to those with autism is a vital step in supporting them.

When most people are distressed, they react positively to the acknowledgment and validation of those close to them – and autistic people are no exception.

So, to support those with autism, we must respond to their needs instead of expecting them to act the way we want. Just take Jesse, a young boy with troublesome behavior, who the author met while consulting for a school in New England.

Jesse’s prior schools had attempted to address his conduct through rigid training that deprived him of space for communication. This was an especially poor route to go with Jesse, as his aggression was triggered by confusion, fear and an inability to express himself.

At his new school, the author, along with therapists and teachers, worked to provide Jesse with the tools he needed to express himself. They also helped make his days more predictable with the help of a schedule.

Since he couldn’t talk, the team came up with a visual schedule book so Jesse could indicate which activity he wanted to partake in. As the staff began understanding his needs and offering him a sense of control, Jesse, who had once been horribly isolated and resistant, became more comfortable, communicative and cheerful. He even began working in the school delivering mail and having short conversations through a specialized device.

It just goes to show the importance of listening carefully to those on the spectrum and looking for clues about what they’re trying to communicate. Consider echolalia, or the tendency to repeat words and sentences, which is a common symptom of autism. Such a propensity can seem strange, but it often offers useful information.

For instance, the author was observing an autistic girl named Eliza. When he came toward her, she became distressed, saying, “got a splinter! Got a splinter!”

The author soon learned from the teacher that Eliza had once gotten a painful splinter and now used the phrase to express general anxiety or fear. Without such information, the author wouldn’t have been able to support Eliza, which is yet more proof for why understanding an autistic person is central to helping them.

People on the spectrum struggle with subtle social cues, so direct communication is essential.

Imagine you’re at a party and someone brings out a mouth-watering cake. You might let them know you want a piece by saying, “that looks delicious!”

But for a person with autism, offering such a subtle hint wouldn’t work very well. They would be much more comfortable saying, “please give me a piece of cake!” It’s more difficult for people with autism to read, understand or learn social cues.

Imagine entering an unfamiliar place, such as a restaurant with a very specific ordering system. A person without autism would observe the other patrons and their social behaviors, and soon understand how the place works. But for a person on the spectrum, such an instinct doesn’t exist.

As a result, this experience would be extremely confusing. For people with autism, it’s just too difficult to intuit the subtle, intangible customs of society.

Take Philip: he had just learned the basic functions of the human body in elementary school and wanted to display his newly acquired knowledge while in line for theater tickets. So, he began loudly designating each person in the line as fat, skinny, short or “deadly obese!” He, like many people on the spectrum, was totally oblivious to how his actions might be perceived by others.

Since many of the subtle social cues we take for granted are lost on those with autism, it’s essential to use direct and precise communication when talking to people on the spectrum. It’s important to avoid making assumptions when interacting with an autistic person and a good place to start is by eliminating any type of communication that isn’t obvious, like irony or idioms.

Consider the example of an autistic child whose parents taught him to dial 911 in case something very bad happened. The following day, he dialed the number after his mother refused to serve him dessert. In such a case, it could have helped to list out exactly the types of emergencies for which it would be appropriate to call 911, like a fire, car accident or grave injury.

You can support people with autism by limiting unpredictability and putting them in control.

Any person is bound to get frustrated when something fails to meet his expectations. But for people on the spectrum, these frustrations can grow out of proportion.

This is only logical. When confronted with unpredictability, autistic people feel a deep sense of betrayal that makes it difficult for them to trust the world at all. As a result, being able to predict the behavior of others and their environment is one of the most comforting things a person with autism can experience.

For instance, an autistic person might have a complete meltdown because his DVD player isn’t working properly. His panic is a result of not understanding why the machine, which worked perfectly just the day before, now won’t turn on.

To help autistic children overcome such fears, you can forge trusting bonds and try out innovative ways of collaborating. Their fear and anxiety of the unknown pushes them to control conversations or the way people behave, which makes collaboration fundamental. So avoid pushing them into compliance and instead use trust to help them handle their fears.

Consider Jose, a second-grader who, when planning his birthday party, only wanted to invite the boys in his class. He wasn’t discriminating or being insensitive toward the girls, he just felt overwhelmed when thinking about all the people he might choose to invite or not. By limiting the guest list to the boys, he was finding a sense of control.

The author, along with Jose’s family and teachers, solved the problem through gamification, an appropriate tactic since Jose loves board games. They simply laid out a grid with different categories of children, from cousins to baseball teammates and girls.

From there, Jose had to choose one person from each group and put their names into separate boxes. Through this game, Jose could categorize others in his mind, which made him more comfortable with variety. It was logical, predictable and enabled him to stay in control.

Encouraging someone with autism to build on their enthusiasm can have incredible outcomes.

For most kids, amusement parks and ski trips are the stuff of dreams, while car washes are less than thrilling. But for a child with autism, a simple drive through a car wash can be the highlight of the month. In fact, most autistic people develop deep interests and passions for very specific things because doing so helps them remain focused and regulated.

These interests range from electric fans to skyscrapers to specific cities and even train schedules. While such things might seem random or odd to your average person, they can bring absolute bliss to someone on the spectrum.

It’s thus quite common to find autistic people who are absolutely obsessed with particular topics or areas of interest. These obsessions make it easy for them to channel their energy while feeling comfortable and certain, as they so often do not in social settings.

Not only that, but these enthusiastic pursuits can be used to support the autistic person’s development. Consider a teacher who was having trouble encouraging Eddie, a fourth-grade autistic student of hers, to do more schoolwork. Rather than forcing Eddie to read the same books as everyone else, the teacher played to his special interest: license plates.

She used Eddie’s enthusiasm to get him working on his own project. He took photos of license plates, found and interviewed the owners of the cars they belonged to and put together a presentation. In the end, he was inspired to write, read, learn and engage with people, while working on his social and communication skills.

Or take Stanford, a young man who was fascinated by trains. With the support of his mother, he memorized the schedules and routes of the incredibly complex Chicago transportation system. This project landed him a job with Chicago’s Regional Transit Authority answering questions and supporting travelers. He was so dedicated to his job that he was even nominated for Employee of the Year!

Stanford’s profound interest enabled him to integrate into his community, while keeping him regulated, stable and focused on what makes him feel most comfortable.

Some people are naturals at connecting with those with autism, and they all share certain traits.

You might think that a professional with multiple advanced degrees would be best equipped to help an autistic person – but that’s not necessarily true. Some people simply have an intuitive ability to connect with people on the spectrum and can often achieve much better results than professionals with impressive resumes or years of training.

In other words, some people just get it; they can connect with autistic people with what appears to be effortless ease.

One example is Paul, a classroom aide who cared for a 16-year-old girl named Denise. At her previous school, Denise had been labeled as aggressive because of her near-constant dysregulations.

While Paul didn’t have much training on how to support autistic people, he was a natural at connecting with Denise. He could notice the subtle signals she sent and could keep her calm even from afar through a mere nod of the head or a few words.

When the author asked Paul what the key to his success was, he replied, “I’m just paying attention.” This response points to some things that these people who “get it” have in common.

For starters, they’re all strongly empathetic. They work to understand how the autistic person views the world and make sense of their behavior. They ask “why?” without judgment and are focused on human behavior.

Second, they’re all sensitive, which means that they can readily pick up on the little signs and subtleties that autistic people use to communicate dysregulation, like a tensing up of the body.

Third, they split control, meaning they don’t attempt to govern the autistic person. Instead, they foster an environment in which they’re available for assistance while offering a certain amount of independence.

And finally, they all have a sense of humor. It’s not always easy supporting someone with autism and people who get it don’t overreact to negative experiences. Instead, they maintain their good humor and a positive outlook, which makes all the difference.

Final Summary

The key message in this book:

By making an effort to understand how autism affects people, we can see that their behavior is not something to be eliminated or controlled. Rather, through empathy and support from people around them, those on the autism spectrum can develop their unique abilities and learn to communicate effectively.

Actionable Advice: Use the time and place strategy to rein in enthusiasm.

The enthusiasm of an autistic person can be distressing at times for parents and teachers. Whether it comes in the form of an intense interest in a particular topic, or an insistence on a specific way of doing things, such fixations can be difficult to handle.

However, talking about why that is or trying to explain it yourself likely won’t work either. Those with autism often struggle to understand the social world, so it’s helpful if those around them list the times and places when it’s alright to talk about particular topics. This will give them a firm reference point for the contexts in which certain behaviors are socially accepted.

About the author

Barry M. Prizant, PhD, has spent four decades working on the subject of autism in universities, hospital clinics, summer camp programs, private practice and consulting.

Tom Fields-Meyer is the author of Following Ezra, a book about his relationship with his autistic son. His writing has been published in the New York Times Magazine, the Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times.

Overview

A groundbreaking book on autism, by one of the world’s leading experts, who portrays autism as a unique way of being human–this is “required reading….Breathtakingly simple and profoundly positive” (Chicago Tribune).

Autism therapy typically focuses on ridding individuals of “autistic” symptoms such as difficulties interacting socially, problems in communicating, sensory challenges, and repetitive behavior patterns. Now Dr. Barry M. Prizant offers a new and compelling paradigm: the most successful approaches to autism don’t aim at fixing a person by eliminating symptoms, but rather seeking to understand the individual’s experience and what underlies the behavior.

“A must-read for anyone touched by autism… Dr. Prizant’s Uniquely Human is a crucial step in promoting better understanding and a more humane approach” (Associated Press). Instead of classifying “autistic” behaviors as signs of pathology, Dr. Prizant sees them as part of a range of strategies to cope with a world that feels chaotic and overwhelming. Rather than curb these behaviors, it’s better to enhance abilities, build on strengths, and offer supports that will lead to more desirable behavior and a better quality of life.

“A remarkable approach to autism….A truly impactful, necessary book” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review), Uniquely Human offers inspiration and practical advice drawn from Dr. Prizant’s four-decade career. It conveys a deep respect for people with autism and their own unique qualities. Filled with humanity and wisdom, Uniquely Human “should reassure parents and caregivers of kids with autism and any other disability that their kids are not broken, but, indeed, special” (Booklist, starred review).

Autism is usually portrayed as a checklist of deficits, including difficulties interacting socially, problems in communicating, sensory challenges, and repetitive behavior patterns. This perspective leads to therapies focused on ridding individuals of autistic symptoms. In Uniquely Human, Dr. Barry M. Prizant suggests a major shift in understanding autism: Instead of classifying “autistic” behaviors as signs of pathology, he sees them as strategies to cope with a world that feels chaotic and overwhelming. Rather than curb these behaviors, it’s better to enhance abilities, build on strengths, and offer supports that will naturally lead to more desirable behavior and a better quality of life. In fact, argues Dr. Prizant, attempts to eliminate autistic behaviors may actually interfere with important developmental processes.

Including inspiring stories and practical advice drawn from Dr. Prizant’s four-decade career working in universities, schools, hospitals, and in private practice, Uniquely Human offers a compassionate and insightful perspective that parents, professionals, and family members will find uplifting and hopeful.

Autism is a different way of being human: it offers possibilities and opportunities, not disabilities. By understanding autistic behaviours as responses based on an individual’s experiences and as strategies to cope with a chaotic world, Barry Prizant seeks to enhance a child’s abilities, to teach new skills, help individuals build on their strengths and develop coping strategies that could aid the fulfilment of every child’s promise.

Uniquely Human debunks many of the false and outdated stereotypes that surround autism. It is a first step towards a greater understanding of people with autism and an essential part of their successful participation in and contribution to society.

With a wealth of inspiring stories and practical advice from thousands of children and older people with autism and their families, Uniquely Human conveys a deep respect for the qualities in people on the autism spectrum that make them special. It offers a compassionate and insightful perspective that could be life-changing as well as uplifting.

Read an Excerpt

As noted in UNIQUELY HUMAN, autism is a passionate affair. The culture of autism has a long history of divisive issues: How should autism should be defined and diagnosed? How can we better understand and provide support to autistic individuals? This guide aims to encourage thoughtful discussion and reflection about many subjects raised in UNIQUELY HUMAN. It is designed to be used as a guide for instructors in classes, and for reading groups. We hope the guide will inspire respectful consideration and productive discussion of a variety of perspectives.

INTRODUCTION

1. Dr. Prizant respects an individual’s personal choice to use or to be referred to with “person-first language” (e.g. “an individual with autism”), that identifies one’s autism as one aspect of that person, or “identity-first language” (e.g., “an autistic individual”), which communicates that autism is an essential and inseparable part of the person. However, the choice of terminology still remains a controversial issue in the autism community.

Taking the perspective of a person with autism, which do you prefer? (a) using person-first language, (b) using autistic as a personal descriptor, (c) no strong opinion. Why? [Facilitator note: For larger groups, ask how many fall into each of the categories].

Do you think a professional, caregiver, or family member would have a different preference? Why?

Have readers take the stand opposite of their preference for the use of “person-first language,” or for using autistic as a descriptor of a person. Debate the two contrasting positions.

2. There are many ways to reveal or share a person’s diagnosis of autism with parents, family members, teachers, or even a potential employer.

Have you observed a diagnosis being shared in a manner that you believe is not helpful, that engenders fear and anxiety, and that does not communicate a hopeful perspective? Describe that experience.

Have you observed a diagnosis being shared in a manner that is helpful and supports a hopeful perspective? Describe that perspective.

If you have experienced both, identify some critical differences between the two approaches.

3. Can you think of a person you have known who probably was on the spectrum, but lacked a diagnosis (or had not disclosed it)? How did other people react to this person? What was their perception of this person? If a diagnosis was given or revealed, did it change other people’s reactions or perceptions?

CHAPTER 1: ASK “WHY?”

1. Dr. Prizant writes that “Difficulty staying well regulated emotionally and physiologically should be a core, defining feature of autism.”

Do you agree or disagree? Construct an argument for your position with examples from your own experiences.

2. Discuss the similarities and differences between people with autism and neurotypical people in reference to:

a) Factors or triggers that cause dysregulation

b) Signals of dysregulation that may be observed in a person

c) Strategies that a person may use in attempting to cope with dysregulation

3. The author contends that the behavior of other people may be a primary source of dysregulation. Have you ever observed this phenomenon? Are there similarities to how other people might serve as the source of dysregulation for neurotypical individuals?

CHAPTER 2: LISTEN

1. Historically, professionals have referred to language characteristics of people with autism as deviant, irrelevant, bizarre, and noncommunicative. These characterizations were often first noted in the clinical and research literature, while parents and those close to people with autism often found meaning in their language. Why do you think this dichotomy existed for so many years—and still does to some extent?

2. The author’s study of echolalia took into consideration many factors previously not examined. What were some of these factors and how did that contribute to changing our understanding of echolalia?

3. Dr. Prizant writes that one foundation of building trust is for partners to listen carefully and assume that what may appear unconventional or nonsensical may actually be an attempt to communicate. From the perspective of a person with autism, why do you believe this is so essential? What are some of the challenges in taking this approach?

CHAPTER 3: ENTHUSIASMS

1. Using the terms “enthusiasm” or “passion” instead of “obsession” is emblematic of a shift in attitudes about interests of people with autism. How does this shift affect approaches to supporting academic and vocational success for people with autism?

2. How do specific interests relate to the unique learning style and learning strengths of people with autism? Is an intense focus on an area of interest always desirable or helpful?

3. How might parents or teachers use interests in a beneficial manner, such as supporting relationships with peers and active participation in family activities?

CHAPTER 4: TRUST, FEAR, AND CONTROL

1. Dr. Prizant contends that autism can be understood as a “disability of trust.” How is this perspective different from more traditional definitions and descriptions of autism? Does this “trust” perspective provide any additional insight into how best to understand and support people with ASD?

2. Ros Blackburn, a woman with autism, has stated “Because I find it so difficult to read the behavior of other people, what they do often comes across as very sudden and threatening to me.” What are the implications of this insight for how we must behave, and when necessary, change our style of social interaction?

3. “Controlling behavior” has been described as an undesirable pattern observed in autism, however, Dr. Prizant contends that it is a natural response to fear and anxiety. Describe types of “controlling behavior” in persons with autism that are similar to what you have observed in neurotypicals. Discuss a few strategies to help a person feel less of a need to be in control.

CHAPTER 5: EMOTIONAL MEMORY

1. How does the concept of “emotional memory” help us to better understand reactions of people with autism that are confusing to us? How might extreme reactions be similar to challenges related to PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder)?

2. People with autism often possess a relatively strong rote memory. What are the potential benefits as well as the potential challenges of this learning style? Based on your experience with persons who have a similar pattern of abilities, share some examples of how you have capitalized on the potential benefits or have dealt with the challenges.

3. Give some examples of how you, or others you have observed, attempt to replace negative emotional memories with positive emotional memories. Provide examples of strategies that have worked, as well as some that have not.

CHAPTER 6: SOCIAL UNDERSTANDING

1. It has been said that people with autism, due to their neurological differences, have limitations in social intuition. What does this concept mean to you? What are the implications of understanding and supporting people who may have such limitations?

2. With a deeper appreciation of the challenges of social understanding, reframe/challenge the following descriptions of people with autism, and provide more accurate descriptions: They are rude and too direct. They only talk about their interests and don’t shift to topics of interest to you. They ask too many questions, and often the same ones over and over.

3. Emotional expression can be a real challenge for many people with ASD. Early descriptions claimed that people with autism didn’t experience emotions like neurotypical persons. What aspects of emotional understanding and emotional expression seem to be particularly difficult, and why do you think that is so? Discuss misguided versus more reasonable ways to help emotional understanding and expression.

CHAPTER 7: WHAT IT TAKES TO “GET IT”

1. Without referring to UNIQUELY HUMAN, discuss three qualities of people you have observed who have the ability to “connect” with persons with autism, and give at least two specific examples of those qualities in action. Discuss how the qualities you identify align with, or are different from, those listed in Chapter 7.

2. What kinds of support would “It-like” people benefit from to help them to “get it”? Give specific examples of when you have seen “it-like” people evolve into “got it” people. If this evolution has happened to you, please describe what has been most helpful.

3. Role playing: Break down into pairs, with one person having autism and the other person being a teacher or therapist. Identify an activity you are engaged in, with the teacher/ therapist engaging in “It-less behavior” for five minutes. Each participant should then discuss how they felt in the activity. Reverse roles with the teacher/therapist engaging in “got it” behavior. Each participant should then discuss how they felt in the activity.

CHAPTER 8: WISDOM FROM THE CIRCLE

1. Parents often find themselves between “a rock and a hard place,” as their parental instincts move them to request, and if necessary, push for the best teachers and supports for their child. However, if they push too hard, or in a way that is off-putting to others, they risk damaging relationships with those whom they need to rely on to care for their child.

Select one pair of participants, and role-play, with one being a teacher or administrator and the other participant being a parent. In this first role-play the parent should have a style that is more “aggressive” than “appropriately assertive” when requesting a change in his/her child’s program.

Discuss as a group a way to change the dynamic for it to be more successful. Then in a second role-play, demonstrate a style that is more “appropriately assertive” than “aggressive.” Participants should then reflect on their feelings and comfort level during the simulations.

2. Discuss all the challenges that parents potentially face in public, when they have a child who engages in behavior that is difficult for other people to understand. What is the range of feelings that a parent might experience? What strategies would you suggest for parents to use in dealing with difficult public situations? You can also set this up as a role-play with one participant being the parent, a second being the child/person with autism, and two to three others being on-lookers who react in less than helpful ways.

3. Discuss five helpful things that professionals can do to support families on their journey of raising a family member with autism.

CHAPTER 9: THE REAL EXPERTS

1. As Bob Dylan sang, “The times they are a changin’.” For decades, neurotypicals have had to guess about the experience of people with autism. People with autism now say “Nothing about us without us” (the motto of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network), as they have become important voices in establishing disability policy and in expressing their opinions about different treatment approaches. Discuss three significant areas of change that have come about due to this movement.

2. Identify three significant “take-aways” that you have learned from people with autism, either from their writings, lectures, or your personal contacts.

3. The neurodiversity movement has emerged, in large part, due to self-advocates seeing themselves as different, and not deficient. However, this position is not without controversy. Break into debate teams to debate the pros versus the possible cons of the neurodiversity movement.

CHAPTER 10: THE LONG VIEW

1. Discuss the potential benefits of a developmental “longview” perspective of the experience of autism. Discuss from the perspective of a professional, as well as from the perspective of a family member.

2. Give a number of examples of how a professional or service provider may “join” a family on their journey. Include in this discussion specific strategies to develop a trusting relationship with parents and other family members.

3. Parents and family members may evolve through stages from first understanding that a child is not developing typically through all the transitions in the school years and into adulthood. Discuss some of the stages that you have observed and families you have known, and how we may be respectful and understanding of where a family is on their journey.

CHAPTER 11: ENERGIZE THE SPIRIT

1. Discuss the types of activities that you have observed that result in a great deal of positive emotion being expressed by people with autism that fosters engagement and participation.

2. Have a debate around the issues of supporting happiness and positive emotion as opposed to teaching functional life skills. Are these really diametrically opposed positions, or is there a middle ground that can be reached, and if so, give some examples.

3. Discuss the role of the arts in helping to “energize the spirit” of people with autism (and for all people). Provide specific examples of innovative activities for children and people with autism that are now being tested and implemented with positive results.

CHAPTER 12: THE BIG QUESTIONS

1. In addition to the questions and responses in this chapter, develop six additional questions and come up with reasonable and research supported responses to these questions. Do this by breaking down into discussion groups, with each group developing two to three questions, and appropriate responses.

Review

“With the precision of a consummate scientist combined with the wisdom of a sage, Barry leverages his deep understanding of people with autism, revealing that individuals on the spectrum are just like everyone else – but perhaps just more so. This unique book is a must read for anyone desiring a deeper understanding, through the lens of a seasoned and mindful professional in the field of autism, answering the bigger question what it means to be human”. – Stephen Mark Shore, Ed.D. Clinical Assistant Professor of Special Education at Adelphi University, Autistic Self-Advocate, Internationally renowned author of 4 books, consultant

“Autism was initially described in 1943, and now with Uniquely Human, it is rediscovered 70 years later as a shared human experience. Autism is part of every community, and this tour of autism changes everything. Now, autism makes sense, and tomorrow looks a whole lot brighter for everyone. Stop what you are doing. Read this book. It’s a masterpiece”. – Carol Gray, Educator, Developer of Social Stories, International Consultant to Individuals with Autism

“This is by far the most empathic, wise, and insightful book I have ever read about autism, and is one of the most empathic and wise books I’ve ever read about being human. I can’t overstate the transformative power of this book: it breaks open the heart, extends vision where there was only fog, and inspires keen insight where there was only reflexive response.” – Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson, Vice President and Dean’s Chair, American Jewish University, Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies and parent

“Uniquely Human is an amazing book! It will change our perception and understanding of autism. Barry Prizant has an intuitive understanding of autism spectrum disorders and the wisdom of four decades of experience. I strongly recommend this book to parents and professionals, and congratulate Barry for writing the book that needed to be written”. -Tony Attwood, Ph.D. World-renowned Clinical Psychologist, Author of The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome

“I have read a million and one books on autism. “Uniquely Human” is the best book I have ever read, hands down…the paradigm of autism books. Thank you Barry for this incredible gift!!!! – Navah Paskovitz, Mother of three boys with autism, Co-Founder Ed Asner Family Center, parent advocate.

” I love his approach… He provides common sense, practical advice based on a 40-year career.”
(Temple Grandin, author of The Autistic Brain and The Way I See It)
“A remarkable approach to autism….A truly impactful, necessary book.” – Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Uplifting…This positive volume should reassure parents and caregivers of kids with autism and any other disability that their kids are not broken, but, indeed, special.” – Booklist, starred review

“Thanks be to Barry for the first-ever must read written for parents, educators, and clinicians.” – Michael John Carley, Founder, GRASP; Author of Asperger’s From the Inside-Out

This is a wonderful book. Barry Prizant offers a compassionate and insightful perspective on autism that many will find inspiring and hopeful. – Geraldine Dawson, PhD FAPA FAPS, President, International Society for Autism Research, Director, Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development, Duke University School of Medicine

In the plethora of autism books, Uniquely Human stands alone as it holds the parents in highest of regard and honors the true experts – those with autism themselves. Uniquely Human reminds us all of our humanity. – Elaine Hall, parent, author, speaker, founder of The Miracle Project

“This is by far the most empathic, wise, and insightful book I have ever read about autism, and is one of the most empathic and wise books I’ve ever read about being human.” – Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson, Dean’s Chair and Vice-President, American Jewish University and parent

” A must-read for anyone who lives with and loves a person with autism, this book should also be required for anyone who is striving to be a competent and humanistic professional.” – Pamela Wolfberg, Ph.D. Professor of Autism Spectrum Studies, San Francisco State University; Author, Play and Imagination in Children with Autism

“Compassion, learning and supportive strategies–the three essentials for working with folks with ASD–are an integral part of this must-read book”. – Michelle Garcia Winner, Speech Language Pathologist and Founder of Social Thinking

“Autism was initially described in 1943, and now with Uniquely Human, it is rediscovered 70 years later as a shared human experience. Stop what you are doing. Read this book. It’s a masterpiece.” – Carol Gray, Developer of Social Stories, International Consultant to Individuals with Autism

Uniquely Human is an amazing book! It will change our perception and understanding of autism. I strongly recommend this book to parents and professionals and congratulate Barry for writing the book that needed to be written”. – Tony Attwood, Ph.D., author of The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome

“Uniquely Human shines a light onto the vast possibilities of people with autism, showing that their lives represent opportunities, not disabilities; promise, not doom”. – Ami Klin PhD, Director, Marcus Autism Center, Professor & Chief, Division of Autism and Related Disorders Department of Pediatrics, Emory University School of Medicine

“Uniquely Human is brilliant. A revolution.” -Steve Silberman, author of NeuroTribes

“Uniquely Human is not just the perfect title for Barry Prizant’s book, it’s also an appropriate summation of Dr. Prizant’s career. Though a clinical scholar, he is a humanist first, and always has been—a professional who is fascinated by unexamined lives that could be lived happily, yet aren’t. With every brilliant, illuminating example in his book, he steers us away from the traditional fix-it mentality and towards the beatific, personally rewarding detective work that the entire spectrum world would be well served to adopt. Thanks be to Barry for the first-ever ‘must read’ written for parents, educators, and clinicians.” -Michael John Carley, Founder, GRASP; Author of Asperger’s From the Inside-Out

“Refreshing–and constructive…. It should be required reading for all educators and practitioners working with autism….Breathtakingly simple and profoundly positive.” -Chicago Tribune

“A remarkable approach to autism….A truly impactful, necessary book.” -Kirkus *starred review*

Genres

Medicine, Medical, Neurodiversity, Autistic Spectrum Disorder, Non-fiction, Psychology, Parenting, Health, Mental Health, Education, Audiobook, Science, Teaching

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