The Little Book of the Autism Spectrum

By: Dr Samantha Todd


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Products specifications
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Size: 174 x 124mm
Pages : 224
ISBN : 9781781350898
Format: Hardback
Published: May 2013

This teacher’s guide will allow anyone who lives or works with children with challenging behaviour, behaviour problems, learning difficulties or on the autism spectrum to see the world as they do, and develop strategies for managing and understanding autism effectively.

It peers through the ‘Autism Lens’, allowing us to understand autism effect change in terms of the way we deal with autism as a society and in education. It delivers evidence-based support and strategies that enable us to develop young people’s abilities to interact with the social world, removing much of the anxiety that often accompanies it. An essential read for anyone working with children, and young people on the autistic spectrum and it will also prove to be a useful parents’ guide to their child’s mental health and emotional well-being.

Picture for author Dr Samantha Todd

Dr Samantha Todd

Dr Samantha Todd is a clinical psychologist who works with children and adolescents with learning disabilities. She also provides regular training for teachers and children's services, and has co-developed a programme for behavioural difficulties, Riding the Rapids: Living with Autism or Disability.


  1. A really useful reference for parents. Small, concise and full of really useful scenarios, I would recommend this to others.
  2. Being placed on the Autistic Spectrum can be a very vague term, as so many different diagnoses fall within the term. Gaining an understanding of the many different tenets of autism is an essential developmental requirement for educators, who encounter such a heterogeneous mix of individuals on a daily basis. To be able to support pupils who are within the autistic spectrum, it is beneficial to try to see the world from their viewpoint, and this Little Book of the Autistic Spectrum helps you develop a lens, understanding social interactions; communication; thoughts and feelings; routines and special interests; change; sensory experiences; and seeing the bigger picture.

    The author of the book, Dr Samantha Todd, defines the autistic spectrum for individuals who display significant difficulties in two areas: social interaction and communication; and social imagination, along with restricted, repetitive behaviour and interests. This has been broadened in modern times to include Asperger syndrome and various other developmental disorders. Dr Todd points out that autism affects more boys than girls, and there is no evidence relating autism to poor parenting or the MMR vaccination which caused a media hype in the 1990s. The book explores the stages of diagnosis of autism, but also offers a different perspective on autism -” Neurodiversity. This perspective encourages a more positive self-image or identity for the individual, embracing the differences of autism, whilst providing advice and support for managing the challenges of a largely neurotypical world.

    Beneficially, this book shares tips on adapting teaching to suit pupils on the autistic spectrum; talking to other pupils about the challenges faced; considering progress monitoring; as well as understanding trigger points which can cause anxiety or distress to individuals as they travel through the challenges the school day throws up.
    This is a vital book for all trainee teachers, NQT's, teaching assistants, teachers SENCO's and school leaders in helping develop an autistic lens, helping to support and understand life from the perspective of individuals who continue to live with the challenge of this label, and the implications this has on them. Easily accessible, the considerations within this book should be a focused requirement during teacher training, helping teachers develop an understanding of individuals they are likely to encounter whilst teaching.

    See the full review here.
  3. Samantha Todd is a clinical psychologist who works with children and adolescents with learning disabilities. She also provides regular training for teachers and children's services, and has co-developed a programme for behavioural difficulties.

    This little gem of a book aims to give a general overview of autism, and the impact it has on the person' and their family's life. The reader will find useful information, advice and evidence-based support aimed at anybody who supports or lives with children on the autism spectrum. It aims to give insight through an 'autism lens', helping us to understand autism and how it impacts on the individuals themselves; looking at areas such as education, health, society and family life. It highlights the importance of the child's emotional wellbeing and mental health. The author shares advice and strategies on issues such as aggression and self injury, communication, sleep, eating and repetitive behaviour.

    Recommended reading for people new to autism who would like a general overview including parents, teachers or newly qualified professionals. This book approaches the topic systematically while written in an accessible, concise and readable way. This is certainly a book that I'll be keeping as part of my tool kit.
  4. This book is immensely useful to teachers in helping them to understand the nature of autism itself, and what can be done to help students on with ASD. Whether they are looking to develop a whole-school setup, or devise strategies for individual students and lessons, there is explanation and assistance aplenty in this book. It is highly relevant for teachers at the beginning of their career, and those who (like me) have been teaching a long time. There is much of value for SENCOs and SEND teachers too, particularly the advice on various programmes available to support students with ASD and their families.

    Although informed by the latest research, the tone of the book is never too scholarly, and the writing is always clear and concise, with a useful summary at the end of each section. I found the sections on Developing Your Autism Lens and Developing Skills and Promoting Well-Being particularly useful. Only a few weeks ago I was thinking about one of my students who has ASD and wondering what it would be like to see his view of the world: now I have read this book, I feel as if I have a much clearer idea.

    Dr Todd has written a book that will be of great use as a reference on autism in schools.
  5. Congratulations to Independent Thinking for publishing this easily read book which unravels for the non professional the label “autism spectrum”. The author highlights attempts to reduce stigma, misunderstanding and promote insight into the child's individual needs and perspective by looking through the child's “autism lens”. The author discusses at length the “neuro diversity perspective” of autism which encourages a more positive self image and social interaction helping to reduce sigma, discrimination and social isolation. The chapter on “developing your autism lens” will enable parents, carers , staff and students in schools and colleges to gain added insight into effective methods to promote inclusion, access, and support structures for social interaction.

    An excellent book which is essential reading as a “support tool for parents, carers, social workers and professionals at all levels who live, work or “make decisions” on behalf of children with autism.

  6. They say the key to a happy relationship is to accept, and never try to change, your partner. It's easier said than done (especially for those with a 'fixer-upper' mentality). I'd go one further and say the same applies to children with special needs.

    Despite the staggering figures and awareness campaigns, autism in particular still carries an enormous stigma. But the tide is turning. A new movement espoused by advocates and books like The Little Book of the Autism Spectrum is working to shift the focus from changing or 'curing' the child with an ASD, to accepting them as a person in their own right with a different perception of the world.

    The idea being that diversity, even of the neurological variety, is a thing to embrace. That's not to say that you just leave your child happily ensconced in a world of their own. I want the best version of my son achievable. But I don't want to change his essential nature, assuming I even could. In order to better understand him, Little Book author Dr Samanta Todd recommends trying to look through the autism 'lens' to see various situations from his point of view.

    Again, easier said than done. Since kids on the spectrum often struggle to communicate, how are we as parents supposed to understand what they are experiencing? Advocates like Carly Fleischmann and Temple Grandin are giving us ever more insight into what it's like to have autism . And every now and then science illuminates with some new revelation about neurological differences .

    For instance, if I know that my son is oversensitive to sound, I can anticipate and warn him to step back at a party or cover his ears before people start singing 'Happy Birthday'. If my son is super anxious in public settings, I can allow him to carry an object-his version of a stress ball-related to his special interest (a foam shape or letter or number) while we are out running errands.

    When trying to figure out the cause of behaviour, Todd advises to consider what purpose the behaviour is serving:

    Does it give attention (positive or negative)?
    Does it relieve boredom or provide stimulation?
    Does it help express frustration or anxiety?

    As a parent, I have found it enormously helpful to try to see the world through my son's lens. While in the playground recently he became distressed when a girl picked up a truck he'd been playing with. Even though he had set it down and walked away, he clearly wasn't done playing with it. When she handed the truck back to him, he hit her with it.

    Distraught as I was, I had to step back and think about what had prompted his actions. He may not have processed that she was attempting to share the truck with him, and so reacted impulsively. I immediately removed him from the playground and once he had calmed down explained as clearly as I could that when we are upset, we walk away. We don't ever hit people. Emotional regulation is coming to him, albeit at snail's pace.

    That's not to say that understanding a behaviour is the same as condoning it. But looking through his lens helped me empathize, which can be hard when aggression is involved.

    What have you learned from looking through your child's lens?
  7. I will be recommending this very readable book to the teaching staff at my primary school. Although, as primary teachers, we believe that we have some understanding of the effects of autism on young children and endeavour to make the necessary accommodations, this is the first book I have read about this condition which really enabled me to view things from the autistic child's perspective. Through the process of -˜looking through a child's autism lens' Dr Samantha Todd helps the reader to understand how the world looks, sounds and feels to children who are on the Autism spectrum. The book also gives an insight into the frustrations for these children of experiencing the world differently, but also offers some practical and useful insights and ideas for teachers, parents and others involved in supporting these children and facilitating their ability to manage their challenges.

    Children with Autism are still just children and need the same opportunities as everyone else to play, relax, learn and to develop secure relationships. However, as a result of their condition, these children need more help and intervention from their carers to enable them to learn the skills required for communication and social interactions. In this book Dr Todd suggests how educational environments can be developed to enable children on the autism spectrum to fulfil their potential, she makes suggestions for helping develop social skills and communication methods, introduces interventions to address emotional and health difficulties and approaches which help us to understand and teach children appropriate ways to behave.

    Reading this book has given me a different -˜lens' through which to view children with autism. It has encouraged me to reflect on autistic children that I have known in the past and those currently at our school and how, with greater understanding and growth of mindset, we can begin to understand the wide range of needs of children with autism and help them to learn to meet the challenges of school life.
  8. This is a very nice, concisely written work that will be especially helpful for parents trying to get “up to speed” when their children are newly diagnosed. The book covers a wealth of material quickly without over simplifying. Highly recommended both for finding practical solutions and for better understanding the “big picture” of what an individual on the spectrum may be experiencing.

  9. This is a great book for people who want to know about autism. It is packed full of facts and information and signposts readers to other books, research and organisations who can provide further help. The key point reiterated throughout this book is that people with autism are individuals with different personalities, likes and dislikes and that there is no “one size fits all” approach that will magically work for every autistic person. The focus upon the different ways in which individuals with autism may think about and experience the world really encourages the reader to respond creatively. By using statements from autistic individuals to explain their perspective the author helps readers to gain insight into situations and behaviours which may appear baffling or unusual from the outside but make much more sense when viewed through an “autism lens”.

    The book contains information on most key areas that can be challenging for people with autism from communication difficulties, “mind-blindness”, problems with eating, sleeping and tolerating situations due to sensory overload to self-injurious behaviour, psychiatric vulnerabilities and repetitive behaviours. Each section gives good, sound, practical advice on ways of approaching or managing the difficulties and offers sources of further information and advice. This is no mean feat for such a comprehensive book and is to be applauded.

    The book is written in simple language without jargon which makes it easy to read and the key points at the end of each chapter help to pull everything together. The tone is just right and is informative, factual and interesting. The glossary is excellent and the references are extensive and wide ranging. My only surprises were the omission of Division TEACCH (although visual schedules are well covered) and that the National Autistic Society was not mentioned as a resource for training, publications and parental support; notably their helpline and Early Bird/ Early Bird Plus parent training schemes.

    As a parent of a young man with Aspergers I would have welcomed this book wholeheartedly when he was younger and it probably would have helped me through many anxious times. As a teacher who has worked for many years with children and adolescents with autism I loved the warmth and empathy with which the author talks about the people with whom she works and her complete and utter dedication to these very special individuals.

    Thank you for letting me read this book. It has been a pleasure.

  10. This book is a must-read for parents, professionals and young people with an interest in Autism. It is a welcome addition to the existing literature on Autism providing a clear, concise and very readable overview of many of the key aspects to aid the reader in a broad understanding of Autism. Through clear text, simple and effective illustrations, and regular key summaries this book guides the reader sensitively and thoughtfully through the facts, the impact and solutions for working with young people with Autism. The author places the young person at the centre of all the chapters focussing on the importance of parents and professionals trying to place themselves in the world of the young person. The later chapters on intervention illustrate this beautifully with multiple real life examples to guide readers through many of the key issues faced by young people with ASD. There is a strong ethos of inclusion and acceptance throughout the book allowing the reader to place the young person at the centre of their thinking. This non-expert, non-judgemental approach is again a welcome break from the plethora of scientific writing on Autism which may not always aid a broader audience in their understanding of Autism. The book ends with a clear, practical glossary of terms, well selected references and helpful web-links, to guide readers towards further information and support.

  11. This excellent little book, cogently written by Dr. Samantha Todd fills a useful gap in the literature about Autism Spectrum Disorder. The author, a Clinical Psychologist working in Manchester has written a very accessible book which will be appreciated equally by parents and carers as well as by professionals working in Children's Services. The many themes covered in the book will be particularly relevant to those working in schools and early Years settings responsible for autistic children, especially teachers and support staff.

    The book is helpfully divided into three sections namely:
    1. Understanding The Autism Spectrum
    2. Developing Skills and promoting well being in children and young people with Autism.
    3. Working with Behaviour

    Beginning with the assessment process and covering the many questions facing anxious parents at the time of diagnosis, the author helpfully de-mystifies much of the jargon and the plethora of medical labels which cause confusion for families and also many professionals. 
    There follows a thoughtful account of the benefits to society of neuro-diversity and the positive contribution made by people who are thought to be unusual or different.

    For me however, the key section is found in chapter four where the author introduces the concept of” the autism lens'', a theme which involves the reader viewing aspects of home and school life specifically from the viewpoint of the youngster with autism. This metaphor is developed throughout the remainder of the book and enables the reader to appreciate the subtle differences which impact the lives of children and young people with autism
    The third section of the book focuses on working with aspects of behaviour and will be helpful to everyone attempting to understand, analyse and manage behaviour that is considered challenging in the home and the wider community including educational settings.

    The Little Book also contains humorous illustrations of real life situations and key learning points are provided as a helpful summary to each chapter. Furthermore, the glossary and references are useful aides for follow-up. 

    Personally I found The Little Book of the Autistic Spectrum a fascinating read and as a practitioner Educational Psychologist I will be recommending it to parent's, school staff and colleagues as I believe it gives illuminating insight and plenty of sound practical advice which will be helpful to those who support children with ASD.
  12. As head teacher of a specialist support primary school which has amongst its numbers over 50 pupils with autism I can see a place for this book on the shelves of our resource library. It would be a useful addition to support both parents and practitioners. Easy to read, with bite size nuggets of useful information, the book flows logically, touching on the key areas involved in supporting children with autism. The book provides a basic introduction to the subject of autism, an overview and some manageable strategies and tips to implement .

    Sam has set out in an easily accessible and un-daunting way a useful guide book or check list for the teacher wishing to know she has -˜got it right.' The book details the key areas that need to be in place to maximise the potential for pupils to make progress and goes on to tell you what you can do to support those learning areas.

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