Understanding the Nature of Autism and Asperger’s Disorder
Edward R Ritvo, Jessica Kingsley Publishers
ISBN: 1843103192, £13.99
STAR RATING: 5/5
Edward Ritvo has a 40-year supply of the most valuable commodity in helping individuals and families affected by autism – clinical experience, writes Michael Fitzpatrick.
The lack of understanding of the cause of the disorder, the absence of any definitive diagnostic test and the limited effectiveness of any form of treatment all place a high premium on the experience gained through clinical practice and research.
Best known for his pioneering studies in the 1970s (with Edward Ornitz) into disturbances of sensory integration in autism, Ritvo provides a stimulating personal account of the evolution of researches into brain anatomy, physiology and biochemistry.
He also describes his major epidemiological survey in Utah, which confirmed a significant genetic contribution to autism while failing to show any link with suspected environmental factors such as allergies. He concedes that research has become “stalled” over the past decade pending the development of new techniques of genetic investigation.
Ritvo provides much wise counsel for parents. While warning against “unproven theories” and indicating “treatments to avoid”, he recommends behavioural therapies and emphasises that most children improve with time.
This book confirms Ritvo’s authority in the world of autism.
Michael Fitzpatrick is a GP, parent of an autistic child and author of MMR and Autism: What Parents Need to Know