Deborah Fein, Ph.D., Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor, University of Connecticut and author of ‘The Neuropsychology of Autism’ and ‘The Activity Kit for Babies and Toddlers at Risk’
This is an absolutely wonderful and quite unique book for teaching skills in an area that is almost universal in autism: that of prosodic and related deficits. As pointed out early in the book, abnormal prosody gives 'a first impression of oddness' and interferes with ongoing social relationships. This readable, fascinating, and explicit book gives very specific lessons in all areas of what we usually include in 'prosody' (pacing, volume, pitch changes, word stressing), as well as in related pragmatic areas that are almost universally deficient in autism (conversing, narrating, gesture, eye contact, small talk, giving instructions). Lessons are spelled out in hierarchical fashion, and are detailed and explicit enough to be implemented by a variety of professionals (speech/language therapists, psychologists, teachers, behavior therapists). The authors also provide a clear and easy to use assessment tool for rating aspects of prosody, that does not require technical linguistic expertise, and which I intend to adopt for all the individuals I assess. Finally, the clinical and vocal expertise of these two authors (Dr. Dunn is a neuropsychologist specializing in autism and Mr. Harris is an opera singer) is very obvious in how they approach the whole endeavor, that is, by working first on helping the learner to be calm and reduce tension (which makes adjusting muscles easier and helps the learner to be ready to attend and learn). The intervention program in this book could change the social lives of many individuals with autism, which in turn could improve their academic attainments, vocational prospects and lifelong emotional fulfillment.