Author:  Barry M. Prizant, PHD with Tom Fields-Meyer

Publisher: Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 9781476776231

Uniquely Human deftly describes how a person with autism responds to people and events around them. The clear message about respect for the person with autism, parents, teachers and other members of the team of people involved with supporting and educating the person with autism makes this book a powerful tool for parents, teachers and others who work with autistic youth.

A key idea presented in the book is about trust and how a lack of trust in the world or people can result in anxiety and in some of the bewildering or surprising behaviors that a person with autism uses to control his world or to communicate fear or discomfort with what is happening.

An important topic covered in this book is emotional memory and how a seemly unimportant action or sight can trigger an out of proportion response in a person with autism. The response is because that sight or sound or action has thrown the person back to an event that was traumatic for him and he is feeling again all the emotions he felt freshly at the time of the original traumatic event. Prizant discusses how it is more helpful to ask why and respond with respect, comfort and kindness than to assume that the person with autism is being resistant, non-compliant or purposefully aggressive.

As a parent of a person with autism, I recognized many of the situations and the actions that resulted. As a member of the Special Education Community Advisory Committee for my local Special Education Local Plan Area I recognized the different viewpoints that various school staff, teachers, principals, therapists, and community members can have about students with autism. This book is an excellent approach to encouraging teamwork and support for the student with autism.

The Guide to Resources includes an excellent list of books, websites and autism support organizations for professionals, parents and family members, and for people with autism. While I was reading the book for review, a stranger noticed the title and asked me if she could take down the information on the book for her friend who has a son with autism. Many parents, teachers and aides are hungry for helpful information and this book will satisfy the need. I wish this book had been available when my son was still in school, but much of the information is still valuable as he makes his way to independence as an adult with autism.