I have read many books on autism but Uniquely Human is one of the best. As I read it, my initial reaction was, “I wish I had read this book when my children were diagnosed!”
This book is a solid introduction to autism, giving a good number of examples of what autism can look like. It is important to have a wide selection because autism is such a spectrum. There is nothing worse than describing all people with autism based on just a handful of examples.
One of the things that I appreciated was that Prizant demonstrates that people with autism don’t do anything different from a person without autism. How can that be? I know many people who script from movies or who have off habits. The only difference is in the intensity or the decisions of when or how to act on them.
Prizant spends lot of time talking about the special interests of people with autism. Parents and therapists often want to discourage those interests as being obstacles to learning but Prizant argues that they are often the key to their learning. We need to celebrate them and use them as a means of communication.
Too often “experts” try to find out how to stop certain autistic behaviours but Prizant keeps bringing us back to asking why. There is a reason why there is a meltdown or echolalia or anything else. Find out what the child or adult is trying to communicate.
Autism has been a part of my life for a long time but I learned things in Uniquely Human. Beyond the information, I really appreciated the spirit in which it was written.
If I met a family newly introduced to autism, this is the book I would point them to.