Disability Studies Quarterly
Winter 2002, Volume 22, No. 1
pages 87-104 <www.dsq-sds.org>
Copyright 2002 by the Society
for Disability Studies


Book, Video, and Film Reviews

Fink, Dale Borman. Making a Place for Kids with Disabilities. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 2000, 224 pages, $65.00 hardcover.

Reviewed by Heather Peterson, Northwestern Human Services.

This case study of recreation programs in a small town presents data on disabled children in inclusive activities. This book is full of facts and figures to give a complete overview of

leisure activities for children in the community of Wabash. Fink presents a qualitative study that focuses on four organizations that offer recreational activities for children. Fink observed how each of these different associations has or has not met the needs of children with disabilities. This study focuses on children with disabilities attending recreational programs for fun and enjoyment, rather than for therapy and rehabilitation.

Although this book makes for rather dry reading, it is loaded with information. Making a Place for Kids with Disabilities would be very useful for anyone doing studies on disabled and nondisabled children attending social activities together. Fink presents a comprehensive study by interviewing parents and program directors and also by observing the children. The data presented here is well suited for supporting college and research papers. While this book would not be suitable for casual reading, it has a definite place in a research library.

Huba, G.J., Melchior, Lisa A., Brown, Vivian B., Larson, Trudy A., and Panter, A.T., eds. Evaluating HIV/AIDS Treatment Programs: Innovative Methods and Findings. New York, NY: The Haworth Press, Inc., 2000, 292 pages, $49.95 hardcover, $24.95 softcover.

Reviewed by J. Gary Linn, Ph.D., and Betty Witherspoon, R.N., Ph.D., School of Nursing, Tennessee State University, Nashville, TN.

Epidemiologic research has found that substance abuse is a major factor in the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States. Current AIDS surveillance data show that at least 25% of new infections among males and 39% of new infections among females are directly associated with injecting drug use or with sex with a drug user (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report: U.S HIV and AIDS Cases Reported through June 2000, 2001, 12(1), 13). These figures are not inclusive of the many persons infected through sex with partners with unreported drug use, persons with infections related to non-injecting drug use, or individuals whose source of infection is not known.

Adults and youths with HIV from all of these groups come from vulnerable populations who, historically, have had limited access to health care. Often, they are homeless, lack health insurance, experience discrimination, and suffer from other illnesses. The studies included in Dr. Huba's Evaluating HIV/AIDS Treatment Programs demonstrate that treating substance abuse and HIV in vulnerable populations requires service integration and dissemination that exceeds traditional concepts of medical care.

In response to the shift of the HIV epidemic to minority and historically deprived groups, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) funded, in 1994, 27 path-breaking pilot programs of HIV care. These innovative models of HIV treatment were identified collectively as the SPNS Cooperative Agreement. Together, this diverse coalition of organizations sought to improve access to care, health, and well-being for traditionally underserved groups experiencing the burden of HIV/AIDS.

Dr. Huba's compilation focuses on the contributions of two groups of pilots within this HRSA initiative. One cluster includes six projects categorized as Community-Based Organizations (CBOs). The CBO pilots seek to offer first quality care for people with HIV who are members of groups that are underserved because of language, culture, or economic barriers that impede their full participation in the traditional hospital-based health care system. The second featured group is comprised of three programs that created specialized health care models as part of a continuum of services in a medical clinic (a care model of adolescents living with HIV, comprehensive care for HIV- positive Latino ex-offenders, and a psychosocial and medical support program for women).

A major strength of this volume is that it discusses in conceptual and methodological detail a comprehensive evaluation strategy for community-based HIV/AIDS care services. Dr. Huba and his associates walk the reader through the assumptions and techniques that were applied in assessing 27 nationwide HRSA supported projects. We are shown that effective program evaluation utilizes quantitative and qualitative methods and depends on the cooperation of program administrators with evaluation researchers.

The papers in this volume also report many important empirical findings with regard to HIV/AIDS care. For instance, in a study of patients from a Nevada clinic, Brunner and his associates found that the number of reported HIV symptoms was unrelated to the viral load. Further, their analysis suggested that patients with a history of alcohol problems or drug use continue to have higher rates of medical symptom complaints of all types for years beyond the reported end of the substance abuse problem even though their viral load was the same as that of patients without a substance abuse history.

This book should also be useful for the program planner who wants to establish an HIV/AIDS treatment organization targeting underserved populations. Detailed case examples are given of proven programs that have benefitted women, Latinos, Haitians, adolescents, and rural people. These projects can and should be replicated.

Overall, Evaluating HIV/AIDS Treatment Programs should be an important resource for program evaluators, clinical researchers, and policy makers seeking innovative models of HIV care for vulnerable populations.

Ilminen, Gary R. Consumer Guide to Long-Term Care. Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1999, 256 pages, $55.00 hardcover, $19.95 softcover.

Reviewed by Debra J. Sheets, Interdisciplinary Gerontology Coordinator, California State University, Northridge.

The title of this book is somewhat misleading since the focus is not on the continuum of long-term care, but on long-term care in nursing homes. That said, this is a clearly written and well-organized guide. It is an excellent resource that will be useful to professionals in the fields of aging or disability as well as to the consumers for whom it was intended. The stated intent of the guide is to "empower consumers and their families to have a meaningful influence over the quality of care and quality of life experienced in the nursing home at the level of the individual as well as facility wide" (p. xviii). This goal is achieved by providing caregivers with the necessary knowledge to be effective advocates.

The 24 chapters of this guide are a comprehensive resource to all aspects of nursing home care including selection of facilities, resident rights, regulatory oversight, private and public payer sources, and quality-of-care issues. A chapter on paying for care addresses the problem of the high costs of long-term care. Detailed information is provided on the Medicare and Medicaid programs and the coverage for long-term care goods and services. The chapters on choosing a long-term care facility explain the importance of looking beyond appearances in assessing the nursing home environment.

Several chapters focus on knowing the rights of the resident with regards to issues that include privacy, dignity, accommodation, and self-determination. A number of chapters provide an in-depth explanation of legal considerations that include advance directives, physical restraints, and the use of psychoactive medications. An excellent chapter discusses the right to freedom from abuse, neglect, and fear. The detailed appendices are particularly helpful. They include contact information for each state on Medicaid, Medicare, long-term care ombudsmen, offices of civil rights, home health intermediaries, state agencies on aging, state insurance departments, and state health insurance information and counseling.

The primary limitation of the guide is the focus on nursing home care and the lack of attention given to the broader continuum of community-based long-term care services. Much of the information provided is clinically oriented and not as relevant to other more common long-term care settings such as residential care facilities and assisted living. These other long-term care options are often preferred as less restrictive, appropriate alternatives to skilled nursing facilities. For those interested in nursing homes this guide is worth having on your shelf simply because it is so useful as a quick reference.

Locke, Lawrence F., Silverman, Stephen J., and Spirduso, Waneen Wyrick. Reading and Understanding Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 1998, 256 pages, $56.00 hardcover, $25.95 softcover.

Reviewed by Rosalind Kopfstein, Adjunct Faculty, Western Connecticut State University.

Many students resist and fear research courses. Reading and Understanding Research lessens this anxiety about the research process. Locke, Silverman, and Spirduso clearly, expertly, and eloquently explain what the research process entails.

The seven chapters in the text undertake five functions: they provide an introduction to research, they identify problems in reading research reports, they describe how to locate reports, they present the characteristics of reports, and they outline how research projects are created and published. The core and most valuable section provides an outline on how to evaluate different types of research. It provides 12-step outlines on how to critically read and evaluate research reports and research reviews explaining critical skills in understanding what you are reading. The authors suggest that research reports are puzzles to be solved through careful study techniques. The evaluation forms published assist the novice researcher in understanding the key questions to ask in evaluating a research report. The authors use flow charts to illustrate the steps in the research process. This book also explains the differences between qualitative and quantitative research.

Reading and Understanding Research is not about how to undertake research, but how to critically analyze what you are reading. This text would be useful required reading for a research course. The evaluation guidelines would be a great course assignment along with a suggested oral report form for student presentations. Faculty should consider this book to lower students' fear in comprehending the research process.

This concise and very readable book provides two appendices: an annotated bibliography and an example of a completed evaluation form. Locke, Silver, and Spirduso have also published a useful text on Proposals That Work (1993), another great resource for those writing dissertations or grant proposals. Reading and Understanding Research gives the reader critical tools in reading, understanding, and evaluating research reports.

Mitchell, David T., and Snyder, Sharon L. Narrative Prosthesis: Disability and the Dependencies of Discourse. Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press, 2000, 229 pages, $49.50 hardcover, $19.95 softcover.

Reviewed by Patrick McDonagh, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada.

This is an important book for anyone concerned with culture, representation, and disability. Mitchell and Snyder have established themselves as a dynamic force in Disability Studies editing the book The Body and Physical Difference: Discourses of Disability (Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press, 1997) and making the video Vital Signs: Crip Culture Talks Back (Boston, MA: Fanlight Productions, 1998). This, their latest offering, is a substantial addition to that oeuvre. Narrative Prosthesis addresses the telling critical neglect of disability imagery and representation in narrative texts. As the authors demonstrate, disability imagery abounds in the literary tradition from Shakespeare's Richard III to Katherine Dunn's 1989 novel Geek Love (texts that mark the historical span of this work). However, critical attempts to understand the function, the ideological work, performed by these images have been sparse (to say the least). Indeed, the basic questions to ask have remained unarticulated until recently. Do images of disability perform a function? And, if so, what, how, and why?

The answer to that first question is probably clear to most DSQ readers: yes, disability imagery does perform some function. The other points are a bit more complex and contentious, and here this text becomes invaluable.

Mitchell and Snyder address the critical deficit in disability-imagery analysis by developing the notion of "narrative prosthesis" according to which disability imagery becomes a strategy as an "explicitly complicating feature of their representational universes" (p. 2). As such, disability imagery is a trope of the transgressive not explaining literary worlds so much as signifying a fundamental inexplicability - e.g., why is Richard III so evil? We do not have an answer, but we can say (and for generations, directors, actors, and critics have been saying) that his innate evil is expressed through his crooked back. His physique performs the task of both embodying and explaining his general nastiness. As the authors argue, "historical repetition has so naturalized this connection between physiology and psychology, between deformity and derangement, that even if it does not bear the markings of factual truth, it yields the pleasure of universal recognition" (p. 116).

Narrative prosthesis, thus, becomes the process through which narratives use images of disability as a means of presenting something defined as fundamental to the self, disability becomes essential to the character. In film renditions of Richard III the authors note that "disability is motivation embodied" (p. 116, their italics). Disability, thus, becomes the bedrock upon which the character's identity rests (readers will no doubt draw the obvious connection to real-world representation and discrimination).

The text is organised as a series of essays or case studies on the idea of narrative prosthesis. While their analysis is not actually historical, Mitchell and Snyder cover a vast period. Montaigne and Nietzsche, Herman Melville, and Sherwood Anderson along with the aforementioned Shakespeare and Dunn, provide the main interpretive fodder with Dunn's post-modern analysis of the social function of disability earning the authors' explicit approval.

The text's focus, as the title metaphor suggests, is on physical disability and the authors place themselves in the American tradition of academic civil activists. However, I wonder about the accessibility of lit-crit discourse across the disability community. As someone whose critical work explores representations of intellectual disability, I find myself confronted with issues of accessibility almost every time I read academic texts. Mitchell and Snyder acknowledge the need to explore the narrative functions of cognitive disabilities, but the greater part of the audience connected to that community has little access to the products of academia except through those people willing to act as emissaries: support workers primarily although also advisors in the case of advocacy groups such as People First. Thus we need to consider problems associated with intellectual accessibility.

By all means academics should continue to write in the prose that characterises their discipline, but would it be possible, I wonder, to provide short "plain language" versions that could easily be disseminated among non-academics and that would more rapidly and broadly spread the fruits of intellectual labour? This is not intended as a criticism of Mitchell and Snyder's marvelous work which should find a home on the bookshelf of everyone interested in disability representation. Rather, I mean this as a general supplication to academics to envision the broadest of audiences including those who, traditionally, have never seen the inside of universities except as test subjects in faculties of medicine, sociology, or special education.

Powers, Michael D., ed. Children with Autism: A Parents' Guide. Bethesda, MD: Woodbine House, Inc., 2000, 456 pages, $17.95 softcover.

Nancy Vitalone-Raccaro, Ph.D., Director of Educational and Family Programs, Special Olympics New Jersey.

Coming to terms with having a child with autism is a great challenge to most families. Obtaining up-to-date and reliable information is essential when it comes to supporting these families. Children with Autism is a wonderful resource in that it is comprehensive in the scope of topics covered yet easy to read and understand. Written by leading professionals in the field of autism, this book provides a wealth of useful information in one place. Parents will deem this feature helpful since many times parents find themselves overwhelmed with information and are left to weed through what is useful and what is not. The idea of having one critical resource from which to branch out is appealing. References, a reading list, and a resource guide aid in building a solid base of information for families.

The ten chapters all seem essential in content. They are: What is Autism?; Adjusting to Your Child's Diagnosis; Medical Problems, Treatments, and Professionals; Daily Life with Your Child; Children with Autism and Their Families; Your Child's Development; Finding the Right Early Intervention and Educational Programs; Legal Rights and Hurdles; Becoming an Advocate; and The Years Ahead: Adults with Autism.

Some of the chapters are particularly noteworthy. For example "Daily Life with Your Child" is replete with concrete strategies for providing structure and consistency, disciplining and behavior management, implementing effective behavioral techniques, toileting, and feeding. This reviewer particularly liked the description of how to effectively use behavioral strategies to guide the development of a treatment plan. The rather complex task of analyzing problem behavior, then designing appropriate intervention was laid out sequentially in a format that was easy to follow. Parents will find this both instructive and useful. Furthermore, Chapter 7, "Finding the Right Early Intervention and Educational Programs," will be particularly valuable for families.

Parents want to know about Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) as a method of presenting instruction for children with autism. The book effectively describes ABA, yet goes further. Readers are advised that, regardless of the specific instructional approach used, a good behavioral teaching program must satisfy several requirements. The book then goes on to enumerate them. Various authors address the impact of autism on the family itself and offer information and suggestions for maintaining cohesion. The section of the book that focuses on siblings is forthright and helpful.

In general, the tone of this book is positive, factual, sincere, and encouraging. The value of parent-to-parent support is continually highlighted as is the idea of parent/professional partnerships. Children with Autism is a must read. Please note that professionals can benefit equally from reading this book.

The first edition of Children with Autism: A Parent's Guide was published 11 years ago. Much has changed in the understanding and treatment of autism during that interim. Accordingly, the second edition represents a substantial updating and expansion of the information originally provided. Throughout the years, Children with Autism remains an indispensable resource for families as well as for professionals.

Preiser, Wolfgang F.E., and Ostroff, Elaine, eds. Universal Design Handbook. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2001, 1217 pages, $125.00 hardcover.

Reviewed by Michael L.N. Shannon, M.S., Universal Design Consultant, San Luis Obispo, CA.

From the beginning this book boasts not only an impressive list of editors and contributors, but also a wonderfully concise definition of just what it is setting out to accomplish. That, of course, is the presentation of Universal Design as the "new paradigm" for design. For about 15 years, worldwide, designers have been attempting to develop guidelines and models for promoting this holistic and innovative design approach. Now, it is important that more people understand just what Universal Design is all about. This handbook really does that and much more. It is a guide and a reference manual, but also a definitive source for design terminology and a problem-solver as well.

As one of the privileged members of the design community who has had direct contact with the educational aspect of promoting Universal Design (UD), I am very aware of the importance of making sure that future design professionals include UD in their approach designing on all levels. This text may just be the stimulus needed for thinking in a better and more creative way and, for some, a new way. That way, the Universal Design way, can be more inclusive and will certainly help lead professionals away from the gospel according to ADAAG (Americans with Disabilities Act Architectural Guidelines) which are based on minimum standards.

With a separate section on Accessible Landscape Design, complete with diagrams and excellent photographs, this text is definitely the best source currently available to anyone interested in the subject of Universal Design. The early chapters serve as a primer for those who are new to the approach, but they soon lead into a very comprehensive and informative resource guide complete with examples and case studies. The included CD-ROM is certainly a valuable reference tool for, among other things, ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act, 1990) minimum requirements and specifications. It may also justify the price, although that should not be necessary.

The one drawback to Universal Design Handbook is its size. Although the format used in the nearly three-inch thick volume does not make it easy to specify the exact number of pages between the covers, it is a very large and quite heavy single volume that attempts to include all one needs to know about the subject. For some that will be okay; others, like the reviewer, will wish it was a two-volume set.

Saunders, Kathy. Happy Ever Afters: A Storybook Guide to Teaching Children about Disability. Stoke on Trent, England: Trentham Books Limited (Distributed by Stylus Publishing, LLC, P.O. Box 605, Herndon, VA 20172-0605; 1-800/232-0223), 2000, 122 pages, $14.95 softcover.

Reviewed by Beth Franks, M.Phil., Ed.D., Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, NY.

Despite some problems, this is a book worth having. Saunders has developed what she calls a "code" to evaluate children's literature for its treatment of characters with disability. The DICSEY Code, comprised of six major elements (Disability, Image, Control, Society, Enabled, and Young carers), is intended to help teachers, librarians, and parents. Each of the six elements in the DICSEY Code is based on current disability tenets such as "Disability is not an illness . . . is not contagious . . . does not cause death" (pp. 33-34).

Some elements are developed more thoroughly than others. For instance, "Disability" is grounded in eleven statements while "Society" is supported by only one. In addition to this unevenness, the attempt to create a handy acronym may have led Saunders to choose headings that are confusing, at least initially. The heading "Society" is misleading as Saunders devotes this section primarily to listing Parliamentary Acts about disability and illness while the word "Enabled" might sound ominous to anyone recovering from an addiction. Innocently enough, the "Enabled" section deals with how aids such as wheelchairs and prostheses are treated in the text and pictures.

After an explanation of the DICSEY code, Saunders then uses it to evaluate well over sixty books written between 1985 and 1999 with most being published in the 1990s. Books are either subjected to a detailed review or a mini-review. Included in the detailed reviews are brief synopses of selected works, a number of discussion questions, a summary of Saunders' ideas about what the story can teach, and connections to other topics, e.g., recycling, history, and personal finances. Some of the books may be difficult to find for those teaching in the United States and Saunders, herself, acknowledges that many may soon be out of print. A further difficulty is the use of British terms for different educational levels, e.g., infant school (roughly grades K-2) and junior school (roughly grades 3-5).

For this reviewer, the biggest drawback of Saunders' work is the weak, if not non-existent, connections to other works in the field. Bibliographies such as Baskin and Harris' Notes on a Different Drummer (New York, NY: R.R. Bowker, 1977) and More Notes on a Different Drummer (New York, NY: R.R. Bowker, 1984), Quicke's Disability in Modern Children's Fiction (Cambridge, MA: Brookline Books, 1985), and Robertson's Portraying Persons with Disabilities: An Annotated Bibliography of Fiction for Children & Teenagers (New York, NY: R.R. Bowker, 1992) are not mentioned at all.

Additionally, there are few academic references which makes the book appear almost fully an individually conceived, grassroots project. Without connections to other works we are left only with the decision whether or not to trust Saunders' judgment on the materials she reviews.

Her own life experiences make her highly qualified to assess literature dealing with disability. She was educated at a school for physically disabled children, has served as a school governor, and is a parent. Still, creating deliberate connections to other works in the field would add legitimacy to her comments. Saunders makes some valuable observations in her opening discussion; for example, the importance of contextualizing Long John Silver's disabilities. As Saunders points out, a seaman's job was exceptionally dangerous and disabilities were common among those who worked at sea. She does herself a disservice here for we cannot tell if this is a unique observation or a point already made by another scholar.

Saunders' book is a mixed bag, not fulfilling the promise of its description, but certainly not falling too short of its goals. The book should be useful to the audience for which it is intended and may stimulate others to build upon Saunders' attempt to provide an organized framework for assessing children's literature for its treatment of disability.

Sheridan, Martha. Inner Lives of Deaf Children: Interviews and Analysis. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press, 2001, 260 pages, $65.00 hardcover.

Reviewed by Rosalyn Benjamin Darling, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Sociology, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana, PA.

The author is a faculty member in the Department of Social Work at Gallaudet University and this book is an outgrowth of her doctoral dissertation. The study on which the book is based involved qualitative research in the form of interviews with seven deaf and hard of hearing children selected in snowball fashion to represent "diverse familial, audiological, educational, and communication circumstances" (p. 41). However, all of the children used signing to some extent and none was exclusively oral. The author used various projective techniques to initiate the interviews. She also used her own deafness in some cases to assist in the establishment of rapport with her subjects. An interpreter was present as well.

The major finding of the study is that these children demonstrated many strengths and were generally happy and self-confident. The author argues that this finding demonstrates the inaccuracy of earlier literature which suggested that deaf children had low self-esteem and many negative experiences. This conclusion is probably unwarranted given the small sample size; however, other studies also have shown that the self-esteem of adults and children with various disabilities tends to be similar to that of people without disabilities.

Most of the book (159 pages) consists of detailed interview accounts which provide interesting insights into the lives of these seven children. On the other hand, the theoretical and analytic sections tend to be thin and weak in places. For example, the author introduces symbolic interaction theory as a research framework in an early chapter, but never actually shows how the theory fits the data in the discussion or the conclusion. As a symbolic interactionist, I could see a number of opportunities to apply the theory that were overlooked by the author.

Because much of research on children with disabilities focuses on their parents rather than on the children themselves, this book makes a valuable contribution to the literature and should be of interest to both professionals and families. Viewed as a series of case studies, the volume enriches our understanding of the childhood experience of deafness. However, we must await further research before drawing conclusions about the larger population from which these cases were drawn.

Vlachou, Anastasia D. Struggles for Inclusive Education: An Ethnographic Study. Buckingham, England: Open University Press (Distributed by Taylor & Francis, Inc., 47 Runway Road, Suite G, Levittown, PA 19057-4700; 1-800/821-8312), 1997, 208 pages, $28.95 softcover.

Reviewed by Valerie F. Lava, Long Island University, Brooklyn, NY.

As inclusive schooling gains momentum throughout the United States and abroad, Vlachou's book Struggles for Inclusive Education is a timely and welcome contribution to the field of education. The book is a worthwhile read from the vantage point both of one who is interested in qualitative research and of one interested in inclusive education. At the core of the book is an ethnographic research study that explores the attitudes of teachers and students in an inclusive elementary school. Vlachou is successful in addressing critical issues in inclusive education while including important considerations inherent in conducting qualitative research.

Part I of the book provides a context for the study that includes a comprehensive discussion of the socio-political context of disability, significance of language and terms used in a discourse relating to disability, and a rationale supporting the purpose and design of the research. While Part I provides a detailed and informative context that is helpful to understanding the findings of the ethnographic study, Parts II and III, Teachers' and Children's Perspectives respectively, are clearly the hallmark of the book.

Having worked as a teacher, Vlachou is sensitive to the role of the teacher in inclusive schooling evident in the following statement: "Teachers play a significant role in the creation of more open and democratic structures. Teachers do not merely deliver the curriculum: They are the ultimate key to educational change and school improvement" (p. 172).

The author dedicates significant attention to both general and special education teachers' attitudes towards inclusive schooling within the broader context of school reform. The book includes a multitude of quotes from teachers that the author refers to as their "confused and often conflicting" ideas towards inclusive schooling (p. 165). Part II reflects the reasoning behind the author's choice of the word "struggles" in the title.

The voices of children, the consumers of the inclusive schooling process, are critical to the discourse, but are under represented in the extant professional literature. Vlachou values the children's thinking which is apparent in the numerous quotes included in Part III.

While exploration of the student perspective is commendable, it also proves to highlight an egregious contradiction in the book. The oppression of persons with disabilities is a consistent theme throughout the book; however, only the voices of the children without disabilities are included. The perspectives of children with disabilities are glaringly absent despite the author's lament that: "The way disabled pupils who are educated into ordinary schools construct views of their own subjectivities is a crucial issue and has not been seriously examined, thus restricting opportunities for expression" (p. 173). Vlachou missed a unique opportunity to explore the perspectives of children with disabilities attending an inclusive school. Despite this limitation, Struggles for Inclusive Education is an important addition to the expanding body of knowledge that will inform future inclusive schooling efforts.

Weiss, Mary Jane, and Harris, Sandra L. Reaching Out, Joining In: Teaching Social Skills to Young Children with Autism. Bethesda, MD: Woodbine House, 2001, 238 pages, $16.95 softcover.

Reviewed by Sandra McClennen, Professor Emeritus, Department of Special Education, Eastern Michigan University.

In the field of autism spectrum disorders (ASD), there is near universal agreement that providing intensive intervention during the preschool years provides more and better results than the same intensity later. Exactly what should comprise that intensive intervention, however, is open to much disagreement. The two approaches "on center stage" at this point are Stanley Greenspan's DIR/Floortime (DIR stands for "developmental, intensive, relationship-oriented") and the use of applied behavior analysis (ABA), particularly "discrete trial instruction" popularized by Ivar Lovaas. Both approaches require a skilled and experienced consultant as team leader. Both suggest about 25 hours a week of intensive work with the child. For both approaches, either parents or a trained person or both may provide this intensity (if they collaborate closely).

Greenspan's DIR/Floortime approach teaches parents to be play partners, to follow the child's lead, but, always, to look for ways to gently extend the child's language, social, and play skills developmentally. Lovaas's discrete trial approach is an adult-controlled, goal-oriented approach that focuses on teaching specific skills, from simple to more complicated, using strategic reinforcers. A major goal of both is that the child can be part of general education classes and that, ultimately, s/he will need minimal support staff beyond the general education teacher.

This book is based in the ABA approach, but it is a gentle version of it. The book is written in everyday, rather than technical, language making it ideal for parents and "trainers." Examples and illustrations make the principles easy to understand and to apply to one's own child.

The Introduction and Chapter 1 provide an overview of the basic principles of ABA. Chapter 2 addresses teaching play skills while Chapter 3 focuses on teaching the language of social skills. Chapter 4 discusses the inability of most children with ASD to understand others' points of view, then describes ways to teach this as a skill. Chapter 5 explains how to help the child transfer all of these skills into the general education classroom. Two appendices provide lists of commercially available resources for teaching social skills and for assessing and addressing behaviors that cause concern.

The basic assumptions and methods of the DIR approach make it preferable to me, but if one is interested in learning about and/or using the ABA approach, this book is the best I have seen. It stresses encouragement and support, not punishment, and it urges using the child's interests as long as one stays within the formal structure of the program.

Wright, Mary Herring. Sounds Like Home: Growing Up Black and Deaf in the South. Washington DC: Gallaudet University Press, 1999, 292 pages, $24.95 softcover.

Reviewed by Bob Buchanan, Goddard College, Plainfield, VT.

While scholars and lay persons alike have thoroughly debated Du Bois' argument that race was the pivotal issue of the 20th century, few would question the claim that the past century's most unexamined construct may be disability. As we know, American society and educational institutions have been greatly enriched by an array of popular and scholarly works that have interpreted the experiences of African Americans and other marginalized communities of color. And, in the recent past, academia and mainstream society have similarly benefitted from a modest, but growing collection of works that have chronicled the experiences of individuals with disabilities.

To date, however, precious few works have examined the intersection between race and disability. Sounds Like Home: Growing Up Black and Deaf in the South, an autobiographical account by Mary Herring Wright of her childhood in the rural South, explores this convergence. Her manner is insightful and unpretentious. In accessible prose, she recounts her coming of age in Depression-era rural North Carolina.

In addition, readers most interested in African American history and culture will be heartened by Wright's description of the ways that poor, but close-knit Black families and communities advanced despite the oppressive economic, legal, and cultural constraints that defined the Jim Crow South. Her descriptions in this regard are suggestive of Henry Louis Gates' autobiographical account, Colored People: A Memoir (New York, NY: Vintage Books, 1995).

Readers interested in disability as well as deaf history and culture will also appreciate this account. "My story," Wright explains in the foreword, is also the story of many other deaf adults. In particular, Wright's recounting of her education at the segregated North Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind is notable as is her discussion of her transition into the deaf community. (She began to lose her hearing when she was eight.)

Looking back on the difficulties and accomplishments of her childhood and youth, Wright describes her life as one of "enduring faith, perseverance and optimism" (p. x). Above all, Sounds Like Home is a welcomed illustration of the quiet resolve and considerable accomplishments of working women of all colors and communities. Their efforts grace our lives forever. Their stories only infrequently enrich our books.

Books for Kids

Hawthorne, Nathaniel (with adaptation and art direction by Robert Newby). King Midas: With Selected Sentences in American Sign Language. Washington, DC: Kendall Green Publications (Gallaudet University Press), 1990, 61 pages, $14.95 hardcover, $29.95 30-minute videotape, $38.20 hardcover and videotape.

Reviewed by Amy L. Terstriep, Department of Anthropology, Albion College, Albion, MI.

This book offers a charming retelling of Nathaniel Hawthorne's original tale with selected sentences shown in American Sign Language. Newby, a former teacher at the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, also includes an introduction to American Sign Language with topics such as finger spelling, using the face and body to communicate meaning, describing shapes, and hand shapes. Some pages within the story also offer further instruction on ASL and Deaf culture with descriptions of tense and name signs.

For families with a child who is deaf and those interested in learning American Sign Language, this is a wonderful book. I have, however, a few caveats. Children will need help following the introduction to ASL. Also, for people not used to interpreting drawings of signs, they can be difficult to interpret, though the book offers some guidance on this, too. The most serious drawbacks of the book are that only one sentence of each page is signed and the ASL grammar is sometimes influenced by English grammar, though this, admittedly, is easier to follow for many new signers.

The illustrations in the book, by Dawn Majewski and Sandra Cozzolino, are excellent. Facial expressions of signs are clearly portrayed as is some very artistic signing such as the sun streaming through a window.

This review is based only on the book. I have not seen the videotape, but I suspect the book is better for learning signs when combined with the tape. For families with a deaf family member, this is a book that parents and children can enjoy together. For students of American Sign Language, this is a colorful, beautifully illustrated book for learning a few new signs.

Rickert, Janet Elizabeth, and McGahan, Pete. Russ and the Almost Perfect Day. Bethesda, MD: Woodbine House, Inc., 2000, 28 pages, $14.95 hardcover.

Reviewed by Moira Hutchins-Fuhr, Ph.D., Santa Cruz, CA.

This book is the third book in the children's series, "A Day with Russ." They are written by Russ's mother - a member of the National Association for Down's Syndrome. After reading the book, I just wished that I had had the opportunity to read the first two! Not only did I thoroughly enjoy reading this book myself, I also read it to my three children, aged 10, 8, and 6, and they loved it, too.

My ten- and eight-year old boys really enjoyed the vibrant, realistic photos of Russ and his adventures. They loved the vicarious pleasure of a day with Russ that starts with S'mores for breakfast and includes fun at school and finding money. My six-year old daughter really enjoyed the simple easy-to-read text, the colorful photos, and, most of all, she enjoyed Russ's dilemma over the found money and the choice he needs to make to do the right thing.

This book is truly delightful, and Russ makes a wonderful hero in his own day and in his own way. The message this book teaches children is so positive and gentle, it is a real pleasure to read.

Video Clips

Anderson, Betsy (Writer/Director/Producer). Students Like Me: Teaching Children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome [video]. Boston, MA: Fanlight Productions (4196 Washington St., Boston, MA 02131; 1-800/937-4113), 2000, 39 minutes, $195.00 purchase, $50.00/day rental.

Reviewed by Venta Kabzems, Consultant, Instructional and Curricular Support Services, Edmonton Public Schools, Edmonton, Canada.

Students Like Me was developed for a teacher audience. The video explicitly describes and demonstrates what classroom and resource teachers can do for students with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). Because neurological impairments like FAS or brain injury are not necessarily observable, teachers often forget or misunderstand the realities of a student living with FAS.

The video opens with a statement from a young adult with FAS. He points out that his schooling would have been improved if his teachers had been aware of and had implemented alternative instructional strategies. From the opening, viewers are reminded that FAS is a chronic, neurological, medically diagnosed disability. It is emphasized repeatedly that the memory and retrieval difficulties will persist despite a student's measured intelligence. Attentional difficulties requiring classroom or instructional modifications are highlighted. The production continues with clearly presented instructional and classroom management strategies using classroom scenes, teacher in-service sessions, and small group discussion.

The instructional strategies covered in a clear, detailed manner in this professionally polished production include modification of the physical environment (e.g., eliminating visual distractions), providing routines and structure, alternative teaching methods, communicating clearly in language suitable to the student's developmental skill level, planning for transitions as well as for unstructured time, and how to teach social skills directly. The final section addresses teacher "wellness" as teachers involved with students whose learning styles are uneven or who require a high level of vigilance in order to shift instructional strategies often report additional stress in the workplace. Teachers need to look after themselves in order to share their professional best with their students.

This is a clear, well-paced presentation that would be good to use for professional development sessions in a school district, for undergraduate teacher education, or even as part of a parent information series. I would strongly recommend this resource for teacher viewing at both the pre-service and in-service levels.

Anderson, Betsy (Writer/Director/Producer). Students Like Me: Teaching Children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome [video]. Boston, MA: Fanlight Productions (4196 Washington St., Boston, MA 02131; 1-800/937-4113), 2000, 39 minutes, $195.00 purchase, $50.00/day rental.

Reviewed by Dr. W. Bumper White, Associate Professor of Education and Coordinator of the CLASS (Collaborative Learning and School Success) Program, University of Southern Maine, Lewiston-Auburn College, Lewiston, ME.

Each year over 30,000 babies are born with some form of prenatal alcohol exposure, a figure that is even higher than those born with Downs Syndrome - these include Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE), Alcohol Related Birth Defects (ARBD), and Alcohol Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARND) all of which fall under the umbrella term Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). These babies grow into children that enter our school systems, institutions that often present the biggest challenge for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) students. Regardless of the FAS students' IQs or physical factors, their learning and behavioral difficulties come from brain damage with the result being that these students are chronically developmentally delayed and, therefore, do not meet the norms of their chronological-age counterparts. Thus, the focus of this informative video, one of the "Students Like Me" series, is helping pre-service and in- service classroom educators meet the educational and classroom needs of these FAS students.

Through an effective combination of actual classroom footage, FAS school-based and university-based experts, narration provided by a 26-year-old adult who has FAS, and a roundtable discussion from a diverse group of regular classroom teachers, special education teachers, parents, and administrators, the video provides an excellent context for its important content of practical knowledge for those who will come in contact with FAS students within the elementary school community. This helpful, well organized and plain language video is broken down into the following segments: What is FAS?; Recognizing a Child with FAS in the Classroom; and How Teachers Can Help. Also useful is the bulleted graphic outline review of significant content that accompanies each segment - e.g., How to Modify the Classroom, Planning Transitional and Unstructured Time, Teaching Social Skills, etc.

This is a valuable video for all school-based personnel, especially regular and special education educators. All teachers will find help and strategies not just for FAS students, but for all students in their increasingly diverse classrooms. As part of the reviewing process for this article, the video was shown to a combination of pre-service teacher candidates and current teachers. Both groups were unanimous in their opinion that it was of invaluable help - "well done" and "full of useful information." This video should be an important component of any pre-service or in-service institution's professional development library.

Bourgon, Luc, and French, Ian (Producers), and Sekulich, Daniel (Director). Deadly Inheritance [video]. Boston, MA: Fanlight Productions (4196 Washington Street, Suite 2, Boston, MA 02131, 1-800/937-4113), 1997, 44 minutes, $195.00 purchase, $50.00/day rental.

Reviewed by Elaine Gerber, American Foundation for the Blind, New York, NY.

This film focuses on the transition from uncertainty to certainty about the process one woman goes through to find out whether she carries the gene that causes Huntington's Disease. As a dramatic portrayal of "love, family, and compassion," as it says on the video's jacket, it does a great job. As an educational tool, either about genetic testing or about what it is like to live with Huntington's, it is less successful. For example, one of its strengths is that it includes perspectives throughout the life course: there are interviews not only with the central character, who has had to watch her mother deteriorate as well as deal with fears about her own mortality, but also with her daughter, her husband, and scenes with her sister (who had recently been diagnosed). The teenage daughter talks about her worries over losing her mom and wonders whether she might get it herself. Her husband asks aloud, if they had known earlier "Would we not have made Chelsea? Would we not have adopted Molly? Would I not have married her? Of course I would have. It's not a disease that's going to take her away instantaneously." Beyond that, though, there is little information given about Huntington's or about the process of genetic screening itself.

About Huntington's, it is certainly not as informative as Alice Wexler's Mapping Fate (New York, NY: Crown Publishing Group, 1995), perhaps a function of video, not text, even from a biomedical perspective. Nor does it give a sense about living with a chronic disability, as does Complaints of a Dutiful Daughter, a video by Deborah Hoffman depicting Alzheimers (New York, NY: Women Make Movies, 1999). All it says, and it says this very dramatically, is that Huntington's is an "awful degenerative disease"; it is fatal and there is no treatment. It raises the question about why there is genetic screening for something that cannot be prevented and for which there is no cure. Yet, it does not clarify why the lead character chose to be tested nor the process of the genetic counseling session she must have received prior to the video's beginning. I could not help being reminded of the utility of anthropological research, such as Rapp's work on genetic counseling sessions (Testing Women, Testing the Fetus: The Social Impact of Amniocentesis in America, New York, NY: Routledge, 2000) for understanding how certain belief systems are reproduced on a microlevel. In fact, the entire clinical encounter is glossed over.

The video's emphasis, instead, is about "living at risk," and at it depicts this fear with a very human face.



Copyright (c) 2002 Various Authors



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