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Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism

4.46  ·  Rating details ·  3,502 ratings  ·  373 reviews
Autism is usually portrayed as a checklist of deficits, including difficulties interacting socially, problems in communicating, sensory challenges, and repetitive behavior patterns. This perspective leads to therapies focused on ridding individuals of autistic symptoms. In Uniquely Human, Dr. Barry M. Prizant suggests a major shift in understanding autism: Instead of class ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published August 4th 2015 by Simon Schuster (first published August 1st 2015)
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Petra on plane flapping arms vigorously
This book had One Good Idea and exploited it from every angle. Maybe that works for a text book and maybe it reads well as positive enforcement for someone dealing with a child with autism but it didn't work for me.

The One Good Idea was that obsessions should be viewed as Enthusiasms. Encouraging these enthusiasms, such as being obsessive about train timetables can be used as behaviour modifiers both by bribery, 'if you don't talk to anyone about trains but go along with them for the next hour w
Aug 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: autism-books
If I could give this book six stars, I would. Every parent of a newly diagnosed child should be given this book to read. This book is wonderful and I wish I had it to read nine years ago, when my son was diagnosed as autistic.

I love how the author delves into the reasons why people with autism do some of the things that they do- echolalia, "stims", having a "fidget" object they carry around with them, or needing to stick to a routine, and having what to us NT's seem like unusual or illogical fea
Nov 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
If you could only read one book about Autism this is the one.
Dec 19, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: autism
I read Uniquely Human, and I went through it chapter by chapter, plus all that material that's not in a chapter. At the end of it all, here are my thoughts:

This book is still pathology paradigm/behaviorist model. It's just considering that there is, in fact, some rhyme or reason to the behavior and focusing on the cause of the behavior as a way to reduce it. (Same bad model, just using it to say better things.)
The descriptions of how and why we act are definitely behaviorizing, or at best partia
Lisa Ahn
Oct 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Definitely one of the best books I've read on Autism and Asperger's. Prizant takes a very inclusive, whole-child approach. He emphasizes observation and listening in order to understand individuals with autism. I love his focus on asking "why" in the face of puzzling behaviors. He looks for underlying stressors and is always searching for ways to communicate and help. A very positive approach. ...more
Sep 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Finally, we have a truly humanistic perspective on autism. If everyone read this book, there would be a lot more tolerance and understanding of neurodiversity in the world. Prizant provides readers with a deep understanding of the strengths, challenges, and coping efforts of individuals with autism. He carefully balances an understanding of autism as a difference in neurological wiring with an understanding that the word autism does not limit or wholly define an individual. All autistic behavior ...more
Aug 07, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: disability
There were a lot of good thoughts and good advice in this book but I was put off by some of the language and Prizant's surprising lack of familiarity with autistic culture - specifically that he is either not aware or doesn't respect that autistic people have reclaimed words like "autistic" and "stimming." I think it is still an excellent read for professionals, parents, teachers, and anyone else who needs to have explained to them that autistic people have thoughts and feelings just like any ot ...more
Katie  Moody
Mar 02, 2022 rated it it was amazing
If you may ever encounter a person with autism spectrum disorder (you will), but especially if you work with people who are autistic you must read. But don’t just read it, open your mind and understand the importance of what is being said. Connection over everything.
Janis Hill
Nov 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I would like to thank Simon & Schuster for providing me with a free ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an open and honest review.

If you haven’t guessed from my rating – this is a fantastic book! Everyone – and I do mean EVERYONE – who interacts with children and teens on the spectrum should have a copy of (and read) this book.

How wonderful to see such an excellent mind set about how to approach and interact with those on the spectrum. As a mum to a newly diagnosed HFASD son I have ap
Ashley C. Nemec
Aug 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everyone that lives or works with a person with ASD has to read this book.

As a professional working in various educational programs for students with ASD, I often felt as if there was something more we can be doing to benefit these kids. Dr. Prizant has given a voice to the various strategies, thoughts and responses I've used in my career I just viewed as gut reactions while working in the field. There are times I have felt criticized by colleagues in the field for not following a popularly acce
Whitney Holley
Aug 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely wonderful book about being a positive influence in an autistic child's life. I found myself marking and highlighting so many passages. The stories shared cover all age ranges- Into adulthood- and I found that particularly helpful. Mostly this book is an affirmation that as a parent I have a say in my child's life and I can trust my instincts. Prizant must be a deeply empathetic human being and his philosophy on autism can be applied and used to better parent and teach all human beings ...more
Mike Freeman
Jul 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Necessary book offering alternative philosophies to ABA and other rigid ASD therapies. Stresses the importance of imprinting positive emotional memories and fostering general happiness in kids to both enrich their lives and - incidentally - promote learning growth. Well-written and structured by someone with over forty years of field work. Recommended for parents, therapists, and teachers.
Xtie Vosseller
Jan 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Quick, brilliant read for ANYONE... everyone.... all of you. :-)
Brenda Brown
Sep 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
In addition to giving fantastic information on Autism, this author gives first hand knowledge of how to handle different situations that might occur with a child. He has gone into homes, schools, institutions and after studying different children in their environment, has discovered some unique ways to empower the child and enlighten the teachers. Teachers who have studied these behaviors need to listen to the child and then be able to access the situation based on the childs needs/experiences/l ...more
Sep 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
MUST-READ! Absolutely a must read for every parent, family member, educator, provider of care, and even those who want educate themselves with Autism. Finally a book with such deep understanding of Autism Spectrum for what it is: ..."Autism isn't an illness. It's a different way of being human..." Indeed! Truer words have never been written. Highly recommend reading this wonderful, compassionate book. ...more
Aug 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: autism
One of my favorite books for helping families and staff to understand and truly support children and adults on the spectrum. Very respectful, full of appreciation for the beauty of diversity, and a fairly easy read. Recommend for anyone new to autism, especially, but really anyone who has someone with autism in their life.
Katherine Briccetti
Sep 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is truly groundbreaking. I work with kids on the spectrum (and have one of my own) and read tons about autism, and I learned new things from this book. It's definitely one of the best books of the year. ...more
Jan 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
As an autistic individual, this book cannot be more amazing! Every parent, teacher, relative, and professional must read this book! Dr. Barry Prizant finally puts into words what I and many others as autistic individuals already knew but could not say.
Sep 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The best book I have read on autism. Truly allows you to move into the mind of a person with autism and try to understand.
Sep 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Really fantastic book that taught me a lot about ASD. I reference this book often and highly recommend the audio.
Lara Mitchell
Jan 10, 2021 rated it liked it
At points I found this too positive, viewing autism’s difficulties primarily through a social lens, avoiding the inherent neurological differences
Jun 11, 2022 rated it liked it
‘Despite the fears some professionals instill, there is no limit on a person’s potential. For all of us- including people with autism- development is a lifelong process.’

Dr Barry M. Prizant has dedicated much of his professional life to raising awareness about autism and also helping families and schools implement support plans for autistic individuals. His book which I recently finished, not only shines a positive and hopeful light upon autism, but also repudiates many stigmas surrounding this
James Klagge
Sep 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology, children
A great book. If your life is touched by someone who lives with autistic characteristics, this will help you find a positive perspective on and positive responses towards that person. Well worth reading.
Apr 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. If you work with or know someone with Autism, I suggest you give them a read. This was definitely worth the time. The author brought up great points and explained why you should or should use certain words.
Danielle  Christy
May 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
BEST book I’ve read about ASD and I’ve read a lot of books about ASD:)
Nov 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: work
I've been wanting to continue my education about and understanding of autism for some time. This became especially important when my career took an unexpected turn and ended up with my working with students with autism and emotional disabilities in self-contained special education classes. I selected three books on autism representing different viewpoints from my public library, and this was the first I've read. I really like the approach Dr. Prizant takes with the focus on strengths and identif ...more
Jan 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
What a phenomenal book! As a parent of 2 children on the spectrum, I received a wealth of knowledge from Barry Prizant and found myself regularly highlighting passages to share with my husband. Prizant has such a wonderful, respectful approach to understanding autism. It was very refreshing to read! One thing that stuck in my head is his use of the term "Enthusiasms" to replace the oft-used negative term "Obsessions" to refer to current interests of an individual on the spectrum. I will definite ...more
Dec 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is the book I wish I could have read when my son was diagnosed with PDD-NOS almost 6 years ago (of course, it wasn't written then). While I did not find many answers in this book, I found a whole lot of hope, and a wonderfully person-centered approach to dealing with behavior issues. I highly recommend this book not only for parents, teachers, and caregivers, but also for grandparents and others who might not understand that the autistic child's behaviors are not the result of stubbornness ...more
Dec 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a nonpathologizing, normalizing look at autism that explores the reasons that people who are autistic behave the way that they do. And when explained through their eyes, a lot of the behavior that seems so baffling starts to make sense. This book is easy to read, and is good for parents, teachers, and anyone who interacts with someone who is on the spectrum. I was really touched by the empathy that Dr. Prizant showed to people who are different. I had a few quibbles, but overall this is ...more
Aug 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely outstanding! A must read for parents, teachers, therapists, and anyone else that knows and loves an individual with autism.
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Barry M. Prizant, PhD, CCC-SLP, is among the world’s leading authorities on autism, with more than forty years of experience as a scholar, researcher, and international consultant. He is an adjunct professor at Brown University and coauthor of The SCERTS Model: A Comprehensive Educational Approach, now being implemented in more than a dozen countries. Dr. Prizant has published more than 120 articl ...more

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“Her moment of restraint was emblematic of an important idea: Instead of trying to change how a person with autism reacts to us, we need to pay close attention to how we react to the person.” 2 likes
“Difficulty staying well regulated emotionally and physiologically should be a core, defining feature of autism. Unfortunately professionals have long overlooked this, focusing on the resulting behaviors instead of the underlying causes.” 2 likes
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