Oh, dear, I only just noticed that I never altered the text that I slammed up here when I first created the blog–and it’s just the stiffly written book jacket copy. Or catalog copy. Some copy. Anyway, my apologies to anyone who’s come to this page and been bored and wondered why I’m talking about myself in the third person. At any rate, here’s the copy and I’ll try to update with something more interesting when I’m not so tired . . .
Clinician Koegel (cofounder of the Autism Research Center at the University of California Santa Barbara) and novelist LaZebnik (Same As It Ever Was), mother of an autistic boy, team up “to show you how intelligent, well-planned early interventions… can improve the symptoms of autism enormously.” That doesn’t mean that they offer easy remedies to what’s practically an epidemic (they estimate 1 in 150 births result in an autistic child). The technique of “applied behavior analysis” (a behavior modification program stressing close observation and positive reinforcement by parents and doctors), say the authors, can reduce the withdrawal and other characteristic behaviors of autism while improving a child’s prognosis for intellectual and social development. They organize chapters by behaviors typical of autism, e.g., “Ending the Long Silence”; “Tears, Meltdowns, Aggression, and Self-Injury”; and “Self Stimulation.” The coauthors take turns in each chapter, first discussing symptoms clinically and then anecdotally from a parent’s perspective. Koegel believes disruptiveness and self-involvement are often attempts to communicate, and suggests ways to tailor replacements for such conduct. LaZebnik adds soothing, often wry first-person advice. As the mother of a boy who “was entirely nonverbal at age two and a half,” LaZebnik’s good news leavens Koegel’s sometimes daunting program of behavior analysis, positive modeling and incentives. Encouraging but realistic, the authors’ humane, proactive tactics toward improving autistic behavior will interest parents willing to take a labor-intensive, teaching approach to their child’s disorder.