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Book Review: "Engaging Autism"

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating


Updated September 08, 2006

"Engaging Autism" by Stanley I. Greenspan, M.D. and Serena Wieder, Ph.D.

The Bottom Line

This is a terrific book, and well worth reading. Its first few chapters, in particular, are positively inspirational. The authors bust through myths, clarify the issues surrounding diagnosis, and offer parents legitimate hope. On the other hand, the authors seem to be altogether unaware of the extraordinary difficulties that stand between parents and the ability to institute an "ideal" therapeutic program for their child.
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  • Inspirational content.
  • Great stories help bring ideas to life.
  • Explores a broad range of issues and concerns.
  • Describes most recent research.
  • Includes ideas for older children and adults.


  • Can be tough to find the information you need.
  • Sets up unattainable expectations for families.
  • Does not fully explain the DIR philosophy behind floortime.


  • New overview of the DIR/Floortime therapeutic method.
  • Includes information on myths, diagnoses, research.
  • Offers ideas for older children and adults.

Guide Review - Book Review: "Engaging Autism"

Early on in Engaging Autism, the authors state: "With appropriate treatment, children with ASD can not only experience love but also learn to express it."

You can't help but find such a statement heartwarming, especially when it comes from a renowned therapist and researcher with decades of experience. Engaging Autism is filled with such gems of wisdom which help to clear away the cobwebs of parental doubt and energize exhausted caregivers. It also includes terrific stories of children who gain wonderful skills, build real relationships, and go on to significant success in life.

The difficulty with this book is that the definition of "appropriate treatment" is frankly out of reach of so many families. The authors would like to see families doing "floortime therapy" for hours a day; pay out of pocket for therapists who charge over $100 per hour, meet weekly with teams of teachers and therapists, and develop school-based developmental programs for their children. Add in the specialized evaluations, occupational and other therapies, peer playdates and tailored tutoring, and only the wealthiest most energetic families could possibly manage such a program.

In short, I recommend this book for its inspirational ideas, its stories, and its tips and hints. But be aware that its expectations are NOT within the grasp of most people -- and that it's ok to do your best!

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