Book Review: 'Autism - What Do You Need To Know? A Parent's Guide To Autism Causes, Diagnosis and Treatments'

Even though autism was first diagnosed and defined in 1943, the cause of the sometimes debilitating neurodevelopmental disorder is still unknown. That vexing ambiguity has led to a number of widespread misunderstandings about the condition, including the pernicious belief that autism is somehow caused by certain vaccinations

However, those living with autism and their loved ones can take solace in books like Raymond Le Blanc’s Autism - What Do You Need To Know? A Parent's Guide To Autism Causes, Diagnosis and Treatments. DSM-5 Ready. The book offers an easy to understand and comprehensive guide to the nature of autism, its possible causes and the range of treatments that are currently available.

A modern understanding

One example of how the book brings light to some murky issues is Le Blanc’s explanation of the changes made to the fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders regarding autism. Simply put, the disorder is now recognized as a spectrum of disorders that includes autism, asperger syndrome and pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified and a category deals with the severity of the disorder. The clarity the book offers on that issue also extends to the history of autism, the cloud of misinformation that gathered around the disorder in recent years and how parents, teachers and other caretakers can help sufferers cope.

Clarity of purpose

It’s that focus on enlightenment that makes What Do You Need To Know? stand out from the pack. The book offers a lot practical information, but it isn’t prescriptive. Le Blanc outlines a number of different treatment strategies and none of them involve a sales pitch for his own branded line of support tools or merchandise. A number of treatments for autism are available and the text reflects that reality instead of picking facts to advance one singular point of view. Despite the complexity of the disorder, the author is careful to keep his prose free of needlessly confusing technical jargon that would only serve to agitate parents who are dealing with aliment for the first time.

Autism over time

Another notable aspect of the book is that traces how autism can affect a person throughout their life, not just in early childhood. Because of the disorder’s slippery nature, many sufferers reach adulthood without receiving a proper diagnosis or now have a revised diagnosis following the changes made in DSM-5. Thankfully, Le Blanc deals with treatments and coping strategies for adults as well as children and details the different permutations the illness takes over time.

The new standard

With its depth, easy accessibility and humanistic tone, Le Blanc’s Autism - What Do You Need To Know? A Parent's Guide To Autism Causes, Diagnosis and Treatments. DSM-5 Ready very well might become the autism primer. And given its careful examination of the disorder, the myths that have sprung up around and the host of treatment options it outlines, that’s almost certainly a good thing. After all, the most effective tool for dealing with a medical problem is knowledge.