I read a lot of books, and in particular a lot of them are about autism or other developmental disorders or special educational needs. I read them to get a better understanding of the children I work with, the field of special educational needs, my world, and the world at large.
There’s an awful lot of books out there on autism, and the numbers are only increasing per week. Some of them are brilliant, some of them are okay and some are awful. Some of them contain terrible advice that at the least is ignorant and misinformed and at worst may lead someone to carry out something harmful to an autistic person whilst thinking they’re doing the right thing because they read about in a book written by a doctor.
There is a particular book that prompted me to start this blog, which I read sections out of to my partner in utter disbelief. I deemed the advice in it to be borderline abusive, and when I read that the author had decades of experience in the field I didn’t know what to think. I posted a quick review to Amazon.co.uk and was relieved to see that the one other reviewer had also slated the book. Then Amazon went and showed me the reviews for the same book on the Amazon.com site. They were all 4 or 5 star reviews. So I cross-posted my 1 star review to there as well.
I asked my partner (as I often do when it comes to things I don’t understand about society and people) how it was possible that the same book I read to her could be getting 5 star ratings. She told me that parents, teachers, other professionals and society at large didn’t know that much about autism. That they only start to learn about it when it comes into their own lives, and by then they’re usually in a panic to learn as much as possible. It’s easy to believe in poor advice when you’re desperate and confused, especially if it’s delivered in the right ‘tone’.
This kept bothering me. I wondered how many books were out there with equally bad advice that was being followed to the letter by well-meaning but misinformed people. It’s easy to accuse people of not thinking logically by following this bad advice, but people rarely think logically all of the time.
So basically I decided to start this blog. I decided I would review every single book I had or borrowed on autism and other special educational needs and give my opinion on them here. I have all my books in digital format on my tablet so it was easy enough to stick them in alphabetical order and just start from the beginning. So a few notes before I sign off…
- I read all kinds of books on autism/SEN. I read books written by autistic people, I read books by people who aren’t autistic. I read books on interventions and view points that I don’t personally agree with because I think it’s important to know exactly what’s being written and read about autism because it will affect my life and my career. I will tag the general topic of the books to help with filtering/avoiding.
- I generally use the term “autistic people”/” autistic children” etc. for no reason other than it’s quicker to type. When it comes to person first or identity first language I personally don’t have a preference as long as you are being respectful. Other people may feel differently.
- The final point is that my views on each book are of course my own, everyone is entitled to their opinions. I am open to all kinds of discussions of opinions on the subject matter as long as it’s respectful so debate away.