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Understanding and Working with the Spectrum of Autism An Insider’s View

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Book - Understanding and Working with the Spectrum of Autism An Insider’s View

by: Wendy Lawson

About the author:

Dr Wendy Lawson, a psychologist, qualified counsellor and social worker has operated her own private practice for many years. Wendy was awarded fourth place as 'Victorian Australian of the year' in 2008. Originally diagnosed as being intellectually disabled, then in her teens as being schizophrenic, and finally in 1994, Wendy was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. The mother of four children, Wendy has been married, separated and divorced, has experienced the death of one of her teenage sons, lost friends and status due to being openly gay, faced ill health and recently is coming to terms with the fact that she is aging! Wendy's youngest son is also on the autism spectrum.

ISBN: 978-1-85302-971-4

Year: 2001

Publication Info: 224pp


To many of the people who live or work with an individual with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the processes by which those with autism make sense of the world around them may seem mysterious. In Understanding and Working with the Spectrum of Autism Wendy Lawson demonstrates these processes using comparisons from the non-ASD world to help professionals, families and carers to relate to and communicate with people with ASD better. Exercises at the back of the book encourage the reader to reflect on what has been discussed. The second part of the book contains chapters presenting a range of interventions and strategies for particular situations. Wendy illustrates her text with examples from her own life and from the lives of those she has met or worked with to clarify her points. She analyses ASD characteristics and examines interventions for dealing with social skills, anger management and self-esteem. Stress, its effects on the families of children with autism, and how best it can be alleviated, is also explored.

Wendy writes in the light of her personal experience of an autism spectrum disorder as well as that of the available literature to create a book that is both readable and wide-ranging, furthering understanding of the links and differences between neurotypical individuals and those with ASD. Her book is an essential introduction to ASD for social workers, nurses, health professionals and those working in related fields.



Foreword by Margot Prior. 1. Introduction. PART ONE: THE SPECTRUM OF AUTISM: GENERAL CONCEPTS. 2. Keys to understanding the spectrum of autism. 3. Differences in ‘a label’. 4. Factors that influence autistic expression. 5. Obsessive, compulsive and self-injurious behaviour. PART TWO: THE SPECTRUM OF AUTISM AND STRESS-RELATED ISSUES. 6. Overview of ASD cognition and family stress: What does this mean in practice? 7. Anxiety. 8. What might it mean to acknowledge difference? PART THREE: IDEAS FOR ACTION. 9. Practical implications and interventions. 10. Social understanding.11. Social stories. 12. Questions I have been asked. 13. Commonly asked questions about autism. 14. Exercises. Glossary. Appendices. References. Index.



Wendy Lawson, the author of this book, was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome and, because of this, the content of enriched with fascinating personal insights.

Chapters cover existing concepts about autism, how people and children with ASD express themselves, factors that induce stress and anxiety plus difficulties with social skills. In addition to this, the author explores practical ways of managing social contact, anger and stress. At the end of the book, there is a useful list of frequently asked questions with answers and revision exercises.

The content helped me to gain a better insight into ASD and would be helpful for any occupational therapist working with either adults or children with ASD.


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