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by Christopher Gillberg
Cambridge University Press, 2002
Review by Lynda Geller,Ph.D. on Oct 6th 2004
the incredible proliferation of books about Asperger Syndrome, it is gratifying
to read one that is written by a well respected researcher in the field, yet is
quite approachable in its style to a variety of readers. While the book would
not be considered to be popular press, it is written clearly and concisely.
Dr. Gillberg, himself, states that he intends this book for families and clinicians
who are encountering a plethora of newspaper and magazine articles about the
disorder that seldom allude to important research bases.
chapters are organized to lay out critical information, review areas of
important discussion in the field, and summarize the important points in an
understandable format. Each chapter includes a number of references so that
readers may search out primary sources of information, but not at the overly
inclusive level one might find in a journal article. Thus, one feels generally
informed and able to pursue additional supporting information, without
experiencing the cluttered style of typical journal writing. Some of the
chapters might be hard going for parents, such as “Cognitive neuropsychology,”
but the concluding remarks at the end of each chapter summarize the salient
points in a useful way. Other chapters, such as “Attitudes, interventions, and
treatment” are useful guides in their entirety for parents seeking to
understand basic mental health and educational interventions.
clinicians, this book is a well conceived review of current issues. It has
more detail in its presentation of evolving issues than the well known Asperger’s
Syndrome: A Guide for Parents and Professionals by Tony Attwood, the milestone
book that made the disorder understandable to the general reader. The
differences are due partially to the burst of research in the four years
between the publications of the two books and partially to the orientations of
the authors, Attwood being an experienced clinician and Gillberg having an
extensive research career. One hopes that readers of the first guide will read
this guide for the latest information and to gain an understanding of the many
controversial issues in the field today.
reading the chapters about symptoms, diagnosis, underlying developmental
issues, comorbidity, and treatments, Gillberg changes gear with a chapter about
famous geniuses and one including case vignettes and interpretations. The case
vignettes include descriptions of individuals from young childhood to mature
adult and comments about how their various presentations represent Asperger
Syndrome in all its variability across severity and development. These two
chapters humanize the face of what Gillberg has been so aptly, but clinically
describing and give an appreciation of the great inconsistencies in
manifestation of the syndrome.
Appendix includes the ASDI (Asperger Syndrome Diagnostic Interview), the ASSQ
(The High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Screening Questionnaire,) and the ASDASQ
(Autism Spectrum Disorders In Adults Screening Questionnaire.) These
instruments may be particularly helpful to the general clinician as a guideline
in assessing a patient or to an individual or family wondering if they should
be seeking a specialized diagnosis.
reading this book will discover it to be somewhat European in its content, with
discussions of such disorders as DAMP (Deficits in Attention, Motor Control,
and Perception) which is not commonly utilized in the United States and
allusions to health and educational systems as they occur in Europe. Those
seeking more detailed descriptions of therapeutic approaches to help children
and adults with Asperger syndrome will find them only briefly summarized and will
need to look elsewhere for more specific guidelines to treatment.
summary, A Guide to Asperger Syndrome is a well written source of basic
research and clinical information presented at a level generally accessible to
a variety of clinicians and interested readers. Its references provide an
excellent listing of many of the important books and papers in the field that offers
a helpful foundation to those interested in expanding their knowledge through a
more detailed exploration of primary source material.
2004 Lynda Geller
Geller, Ph.D., Executive Director, Asperger Foundation International, 501
Madison Avenue, New York, New York 10022