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Book Reviews   |    
Learning and Behavior Problems in Asperger Syndrome
Reviewed by Caroline Fisher, M.D., Ph.D.
Psychiatric Services 2004; doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.55.11.1326
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edited by Margot Prior; New York, Guilford Press, 2003, 326 pages, $42

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In this very informative book, Margot Prior has gathered a wide variety of authorities on Asperger syndrome to focus on the problem of school functioning. An internationally recognized researcher on the behavioral and cognitive aspects of autistic spectrum disorders, Prior is well qualified to do this. The breadth of expertise collected in this book is impressive and helpful: one chapter is written by a psychiatrist, another is by an educator specializing in autistic spectrum disorders in the school environment, and another is a first-person account of how one woman with Asperger syndrome experienced her school years.

The book is organized into two sections. The first, "Assessment and Management of Behavioral and Learning Difficulties," is very scholarly. Chapters in this section speak to the evidence for specific cognitive deficits related to Asperger syndrome that go beyond gross measures of IQ. These chapters offer ways to evaluate deficits for an individual and ways to understand how cognitive deficits relate to the particular behaviors seen among persons with autistic spectrum disorders. The second section, "Asperger Syndrome in the Schools," is very practical. It offers scholarly but pragmatic approaches to making schools more comfortable and useful for people with autistic spectrum disorders and to help these individuals be more functional in school and later in life.

Overall, this is a very valuable book. It gives the reader a solid review of the literature, a toolbox of approaches to the student with an autistic spectrum disorder, and a new appreciation of how people with these disorders experience the world.

Dr. Fisher is a child psychiatry fellow at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester.




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