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Autism: A Very Short Introduction (2008)

by Uta Frith

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1431191,066 (3.19)3
Everyone has heard of autism, but the disorder itself is little understood. This very short introduction to the condition offers a clear statement on what is currently known about autism and Asperger syndrome.
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Because autism manifests itself in so many different ways, it is hard to write a general introduction. And to do so in the limited space of "a very short introduction" is probably impossible. This book doesn't really try -- it doesn't attempt to cover all types, and it is in no way a treatment manual. There is no section on strategies, no advice to those on the spectrum, not even much in the way of diagnostic criteria. A person with high-function autism, trying to self-diagnose, would find little help in this book.

What the book does well is describe the various hypotheses about the causes and explanations of autism. In this regard it is helpful -- as long as one does not suffer an autism disorder one's self. Ah, but there is the key word -- the "self." After discussing the five "big ideas" that have been put forward to try to explain autism, Frith's conclusion seems to be that the self of the autistic person is damaged or even missing. Perhaps this is not a condemnation -- a robot is a useful thing even though it doesn't have a self. But what JUSTIFIES the existence of a human being who lacks a self? A person with autism may wish to do good -- but is it possible for this self-less (as opposed to selfless) person to do it? I do not know. Here, the lack of strategies is a devastating lack. To me at least, this book offers no sign of hope. The evidence is clear that there is no cure for autism. Must the victims, then, be comfortless as well? ( )
  waltzmn | Feb 10, 2012 |
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Everyone has heard of autism, but the disorder itself is little understood. This very short introduction to the condition offers a clear statement on what is currently known about autism and Asperger syndrome.

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