Book review: Catatonia, Shutdown and Breakdown in Autism: A Psycho-Ecological Approach

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Author: Dr A. Shah
Publisher: Jessica Kingsley Publishers
ISBN: 978-1-78592-249-7
£19.99

In the introduction, Dr Shah, a consultant clinical psychologist with extensive experience of working with complex issues in autism defines catatonia as a ‘complex, multifaceted disorder […] there are a whole range of abnormalities of posture, movement, speech and behaviour’. She outlines some of the subtypes of catatonia manifestations in autistic spectrum disorder and states that there are a significant number of people who are not yet diagnosed. Chapters include; ‘Consequences of Misdiagnosis and Misconception,’ ‘Possible Causal Factors,’ and ‘The Psycho-Ecological Approach’. The book also includes The Autism Catatonia Evaluation (ACE-S), developed by the author as a framework for a systematic assessment and evaluation of catatonia manifestations in children and adults. This can be used by anyone involved with an autistic individual  and it reflects Shah’s psycho-ecological approach, which takes into account all aspects of the environment that the individual has to cope with. These include the physical and sensory environment, educational and occupational settings and social interactions. Drawing on over four decades of experience, it represents a multi-dimensional, holistic approach that takes into account the anxiety and distress that many of her clients experience on a daily basis. Shah provides several short case studies to illustrate the application of this approach. This book is an excellent and supportive guide that will be of value to clinicians, other professionals and families supporting autistic individuals. It is particularly well-written and accessible to a wide audience.

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