Most helpful positive review
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Fine introduction with two minor faults
on 28 December 2012
On the positive side, here are some gems in a nutshell. I especially like the five different "big ideas" about the underlying problems, and the mismatch of top-down and bottom-up processes as a possible link between these ideas.
On the negative side, I have two remarks:
First, the described Sally-Anne-test on the "theory of mind" might reveal delayed development in young children but has no similarity to the problems older children and adults are facing. The reader might get the wrong impression that autistic people are unable to apply simple logic to situations involving other people. The real problems are at least partly based on the fact that autistic people maintain a one-layer-communication toward obvious goals (as receiver *and* as sender) while NTs communicate also via sound of voice, facial expressions and so on, sometimes toward hidden goals. Thus in communications between autistics and NTs, *both* sides have a theory-of-mind problem: Since even autistics cannot avoid to produce sounds and facial expressions but do not attach meaning to them, the NT is often unable to mask these layers, even when being ask to give attention just to the words, and jumps to wrong conclusions about the state of mind of the autistic person.
Secondly, at the end of the section titled "Asperger syndrome" (pp. 37, 38), the author, after mentioning highly intelligent "Aspies" who are glad not to be NTs, labels the extreme point of view that autism is *generally* not a deficit but a different make-up as "perverse". Well, this is literally true but, the author being an NT, one could look for her hidden goal. Why does she mention an extreme, obviously untenable position in a *very short* introduction? My impression is that she lacks a certain empathy for the "glad aspies". There *are* some reasons why Asperger syndrome should not / could not generally be labelled as a deficit:
1. The sentence "There is a deficit which in rare cases causes an improvement." is paradoxical.
2. It seems to be quite human to respond to the label "disabled" with the announcement of belonging to a different culture; see for example the community of deaf students in Washington, D.C.
3. The highly functioning aspies might fear that somewhen in the future the NT society might find a way to diagnose and to "cure" all autistic children regardless of their specifics.
Here I miss the element of optimistic acceptance which is a key feature of Tony Attwoods book "The complete guide to Asperger's syndrome".
But on the whole I recommend this book as a thought provoking introduction.
(someone glad to be an Aspie ;-)