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Can the World Afford Autistic Spectrum Disorder? Nonverbal Communication, Asperger Syndrome and the Interbrain

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Book - Can the World Afford Autistic Spectrum Disorder? Nonverbal Communication, Asperger Syndrome and the Interbrain

by: Digby Tantam

About the author:

Digby Tantam is Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist for Sheffield Health Care NHS Foundation Trust and an Emeritus Professor at the University of Sheffield. He is a chartered psychologist, and a fellow of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy and the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy. Educated at Oxford, Harvard, Stanford, London and the Open Universities, and with a doctorate from the Institute of Psychiatry in London, he started a clinic for adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorders in 1980 that has continued ever since. He has written numerous articles and books on ASD and other topics.

ISBN: 978-1-84310-694-4

Year: 2009

Publication Info: 256pp


The world affords to most of us a web of subliminal nonverbal communication that regulates our minds, indicates whether our beliefs have, or have not, social approval, and generally guides us. People with autism do not seem to be influenced by these subliminal signals as much as others, and this results in the difficulties in social interaction that are so characteristic of all the autistic spectrum disorders. How is such nonverbal communication carried out, and why do people on the autism spectrum find it so difficult? What are the consequences of this for them, and how do these consequences affect their personality, self-awareness, and sense of place in the world?

Digby Tantam explores current theories on nonverbal communication and how it shapes social behaviour, and the evidence for it being impaired in people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). He shows how knowledge of this difference can be used to overcome some of the impairments in nonverbal communication in people with ASD, but also how acknowledging them can result in more positive development elsewhere.

This groundbreaking book will be fascinating reading for anyone interested in communication, as well as people who have ASD themselves, their families, and all professionals working with people on the autism spectrum.



Acknowledgements. Introduction. 1: What is Nonverbal Communication, and How Does it Affect Us? 2: What is the Importance of Gaze and Shared Attention? 3: What do People Make of Nonverbal Communication? 4: What is the Evidence that Impaired Nonverbal Communication is the Fundamental Problem in Autistic Spectrum Disorder? 5: Is an Impairment of Nonverbal Communication a Brain Problem? 6: What are the Consequences of Lving with an Impairment in Nonverbal Communication? 7: Nonverbal Communication as a Tool to Understanding and Moving Forward. 8: Can Society Afford People with ASD? Revisited. References. Index.



The book unfolds in a logical and sensible manner, beginning with a thorough introduction to non-verbal communication. In subsequent chapters, Tantam carefully builds his argument by drawing on evidence from research and clinical practice, also discussing the possible biological underpinnings of his ideas. Finally, he covers the extended consequences of non-verbal communication impairment and considers how the interbrain framework can be used to assist in understanding people with autism-spectrum disorder. The author’s influences as a clinical psychotherapist and as a scientist are evident throughout the book and he is particularly impressive at fusing the biological and psychological aspects of autism-spectrum disorder. He makes extensive use of analogy and real-life vignettes to illustrate his ideas, making complex concepts easy to grasp and the book interesting and enjoyable to read.


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