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Book Review: Voices from the Spectrum


About.com Rating 4 Star Rating


Updated April 14, 2006

Voices from the Spectrum: Parents, Grandparents, Siblings, People with Autism and Professionals Share Their Wisdom is a new book from Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Edited by Robert Naseef and Cindy Ariel, it includes dozens of essays and stories reflecting on life and the autism spectrum.

Introducing the Editors

First, full disclosure: I do know Dr. Robert Naseef, co-author of Voices From the Spectrum. I met him first at a support group for families with special needs children to which I was invited by a friend. While I didn’t continue with the group, I did continue to hear about Dr. Naseef’s work at Alternative Choices, where he and his wife Cindy Ariel offer support and resources to families coping with the stress of a serious disability.

Taking the Plunge

Despite the fact that I have kept in touch with Dr. Naseef, however, I was nervous about opening Voices from the Spectrum, a collection of stories from families and individuals impacted by autism. I’m no fan of tragedy, and, frankly, that’s what I expected.

While some of these stories are, indeed, tragic, I was pleasantly surprised by the breadth and diversity of the voices included in the book.

Meeting Old Friends and New

It’s always nice to hear from voices that are well known in the autism community -- voices like those of autistic self-advocates Donna Williams and Stephen Shore. And it’s encouraging to hear from parents who have crossed through the pain of diagnosis and loss and rediscovered their love for and pride in their child.

But it’s especially meaningful to hear from the voices that are rarely heard. The voices of brothers and sisters reflecting on their experience growing up with an autistic sibling. The voices of grandparents struggling with the double burden of supporting their children and grandchildren. And the unique reflections of people like Samira Al Saad, the founder of the Kuwaiti Center of Autism, who has created community in a part of the world where autism awareness is a brand new concept.

Finding a Voice You Recognize

No matter who you are -- or what your perspective -- there’s a good chance you’ll find a like-minded soul in Voices From the Spectrum. And if you read a little further, you’ll almost certainly find something new… interesting… and worth reflecting on.

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