Autistic Spectrum Disorders in the Early YearsReviews
 Autistic Spectrum Disorders in the Early Years: A Guide for Practitioners

This little book is a valuable addition to the rapidly growing literature on Autistic Spectrum Disorders in the Early Years.

Recognising that most young children with ASD will be attending mainstream pre-school or nursery settings (in the UK often called ‘Early Years’ settings), the book is aimed at non-specialist staff. The opening paragraph reassuringly states that "not all practitioners need to be 'experts'’’.

It is designed to be read first of all ‘as a whole’, and is indeed short enough to do that within a reasonable time, and then to be used as a reference guide for aspects of the condition, or as problems arise. The first three chapters give a short overview of autistic spectrum disorders (ASD), outlining the triad of impairments, looking at the importance of diagnosis and give an easy to understand explanation of the difficulties experienced by young children with ASD and the interaction between the areas of the triad. Throughout, the theory is very much grounded in practical application, giving short examples of how to address the needs arising from ASD.

Chapter 4 looks at education and specialist approaches and at the principles that should guide any decision as to which methods to employ. There is just sufficient information here to enable practitioners to enter into meaningful dialogue with parents considering using any named approach. Chapter 5 then discusses the importance of working with parents, especially of children in the Early Years (i.e. pre-school). The author sensitively addresses the ways in which staff and parents can help each other in recognising the differences in behaviour which might occur in different settings – many children may be controlled and apparently at ease in nursery, only to let off steam when they get home. Chapters 6 and 7 give practical suggestions for supporting the development of communication and social understanding. The final chapter, ‘Managing Behaviour’ first looks at possible reasons for difficult behaviour in young children, with the emphasis on understanding the behaviour, and then gives practical strategies to try in certain situations.

The resources and references section is detailed and comprehensive, listing references under headings in alphabetical order. This is a very useful resource in itself, but it does not make it easy to find references in the text, since it is difficult to know in which section it will appear. Whilst this can be frustrating, it does not make the book any less attractive. This is a very useful little book, as we have come to expect from Rita Jordan, which will be helpful for both professionals and parents. Every Early Years setting should purchase a copy and it should be available in all resource libraries.

Reviewed in Autism June, 2004

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This book is one of a series dealing with education in the early years. Its aim is to address the main areas of concern for professionals dealing with children with autistic spectrum disorders, and it has a strong emphasis on practical examples. The book is a slim volume divided into eight chapters. An introduction includes a 'frequently asked questions' type section; chapter two discusses diagnoses and labelling; there is a chapter on understanding autistic spectrum disorders, and others covering educational goals and specialist approaches, working with parents, building communication skills, developing social understanding and play and, finally, managing behaviour.

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A book of great insight into the experiences of those who indicate ASD. Clearly explained from a number of points of view including the pupils', this short and readable book does much to encourage understanding and empathy.

Scenarios are described and the child reaction to them, explained by the pupil's lack of skills in specific areas. This then allows the application of strategies that are based upon understanding the reasons behind the behaviour, which promote the clearest chance of success.

Parents' perspectives are investigated, including the pressure on them to pursue what they feel is the best solution for their child from the bewildering display of claims available from any internet connection. Various procedures and programmes are explained with eminent good sense and balance, in order to allow an overview of options to be considered.

Dr Rita Jordan has great expertise in addressing the needs of pupils who indicate ASD as well as being a reader in Autism Studies at the University of Birmingham. She trained as a child psychologist, she has worked as a teacher in nursery, primary and special schools, and her books display the practical support needed by all involved with children ASD, including parents.

Although intended for early years, this publication would be welcomed in all KS1 and KS2 settings.

Reviewed in Special Needs Information Press (SNIP) Feb, 2003

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Written from a UK perspective, but most of its contents will apply across cultures and countries. It also applies across professional disciplines and to those who do not have professional qualifications but are working in early years settings. Will also be useful to parents.

The author is a well-known authority in this field. It is short enough to be read as a whole, to gain an overview, but it also contains enough practical guidance to be used afterwards as a reference guide for aspects of the curriculum or to deal with certain problems. It should not, however, be read and applied in any order since later sections depend on the understanding that comes from initial ones. The eight chapters deal with diagnosis, understanding, educational goals and specialist approaches, working with parents, building communication, developing social understanding and enabling play and managing behaviour.

Reviewed in the ACE (Advisory Centre for Education) Bulletin June, 2003

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