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12 and HoldingA Guide to Asperger SyndromeA Lethal InheritanceA Mother's Courage: Talking Back to AutismA Parent's Guide to Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning AutismA Special EducationA Toss Of The DiceA Tribe ApartA User Guide to the GF/CF Diet for Autism, Asperger Syndrome and AD/HDA Walk in the Rain With a BrainABC of Eating DisordersADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your LifeADHD Grown UpADHD in the Schools: Assessment and Intervention StrategiesAdolescence and Body ImageAdolescent DepressionAggression and Antisocial Behavior in Children and AdolescentsAll Alone in the UniverseAlpha GirlsAmericaAnother PlanetAntisocial Behavior in Children and AdolescentsAsperger Syndrome and Your ChildAsperger Syndrome, Adolescence, and IdentityAsperger's and GirlsAssessment of Childhood DisordersAttention Deficit DisorderAttention-Deficit Hyperactivity DisorderAttention-Deficit/Hyperactivity DisorderAutism - The Eighth Colour of the RainbowAutism and MeAutism's False ProphetsAutistic Spectrum DisordersBad GirlBeen There, Done That? DO THIS!Before I DieBetween Two WorldsBeyond AppearanceBig Mouth & Ugly GirlBipolar ChildrenBipolar Disorder in Childhood and Early AdolescenceBipolar DisordersBipolar KidsBlackwell Handbook of Childhood Cognitive DevelopmentBody Image, Eating Disorders, and ObesityBody Image, Eating Disorders, and Obesity in YouthBoy AloneBrain-Based Therapy with Children and AdolescentsBreaking PointBreathing UnderwaterBringing Up ParentsBullying and TeasingBullying PreventionBut I Love HimCan't Eat, Won't EatCaring for a Child with AutismCatalystChild and Adolescent PsychiatryChild and Adolescent Psychological DisordersChild and Adolescent PsychopathologyChild NeuropsychologyChild Well-BeingChildren and SexualityChildren Changed by TraumaChildren with Emerald EyesChildren with Sexual Behavior ProblemsChildren, Sexuality and SexualizationChildren’s Dreaming and the Development of Consciousness City of OneCommunication Issues In Autism And Asperger SyndromeConcepts of NormalityConcise Guide to Child and Adolescent PsychiatryConquering the Beast WithinConsuming KidsContesting ChildhoodCount Us InCrackedCrossesCutCyber-Safe Kids, Cyber-Savvy TeensDamageDemystifying the Autistic ExperienceDescartes' BabyDilemmas of DesireDirtyDisconnected KidsDoing SchoolDon't Bother Me Mom--I'm Learning!Don't Pick On MeDying to Be ThinEarly Intervention Programs and PoliciesEating an ArtichokeEducating Children With AutismEight Stories UpElijah's CupEmerald City BluesEmotional and Behavioral Problems of Young ChildrenEpilepticEthical Dilemmas in PediatricsEvery Girl Tells a StoryExiting NirvanaExploiting ChildhoodEye ContactFacing BipolarFamily HistoryFast GirlsForever YoungFreaks, Geeks and Asperger SyndromeFreewillFrictionGirl CultureGirl in the MirrorGirlfightingGirlhoodGirlWiseHandbook of Evidence-Based Therapies for Children and AdolescentsHandbook of Preschool Mental HealthHealing ADDHelping Children Cope With Disasters and TerrorismHelping Hyperactive KidsHelping Parents, Youth, and Teachers Understand Medications for Behavioral and Emotional ProblemsHelping Students Overcome Depression and AnxietyHelping Teens Who CutHollow KidsHope's BoyHow Infants Know MindsHow to Keep Your Teenager Out of Trouble and What to Do If You Can'tHurry Down SunshineI Am Not Joey PigzaIdentifying Hyperactive ChildrenIf Your Adolescent Has an Eating DisorderIn the Company of CraziesIncorporating Social Goals in the ClassroomIntegrated YogaIntrusive ParentingIssues for Families, Schools and CommunitiesJake RileyJoey Pigza Loses ControlJoey Pigza Swallowed the KeyJuvenile-Onset SchizophreniaKim: Empty InsideLearning and Behavior Problems in Asperger SyndromeLearning Disorders and Disorders of the Self in Children and AdolescentsLearning Outside the Lines Let Kids Be KidsLiberation's ChildrenLife As We Know ItLisa, Bright and DarkLook Me in the EyeLoserLove and SexLove That DogMad at SchoolMaking ADD WorkMaking American BoysManicMastering Anger and AggressionMaverick MindMedicating ChildrenMind 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Revised EditionTaming the Troublesome ChildTemple GrandinThe American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook Of Child And Adolescent PsychiatryThe Anti-Romantic ChildThe Bipolar ChildThe Boy Who Loved WindowsThe Boy Who Was Raised as a DogThe Buffalo TreeThe Bully Action GuideThe Bully, the Bullied, and the BystanderThe Burn JournalsThe Color of AbsenceThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeThe Depressed ChildThe Developing MindThe Dragons of AutismThe Einstein SyndromeThe EpidemicThe Evolution of ChildhoodThe Explosive ChildThe Eyes of van GoghThe Fasting GirlThe Field of the DogsThe Flight of a DoveThe Hidden Gifts of the Introverted ChildThe Horse BoyThe Identity TrapThe Inner World of a Suicidal YouthThe Inside Story on Teen GirlsThe Kindness of StrangersThe Last Normal ChildThe Little MonsterThe Medicated ChildThe Myth of LazinessThe New Gay TeenagerThe Nurture AssumptionThe OASIS Guide to Asperger SyndromeThe Other ParentThe Perversion of YouthThe Philosophy of AutismThe 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Book for BoysWhat's Happening to My Body? Book for GirlsWhat's Happening to Tom?When Nothing Matters AnymoreWhen Your Child Has an Eating DisorderWhose America?Why Don't Students Like SchoolWill's ChoiceWinnicott On the ChildWorried All the TimeYou Hear MeYoung Minds in Social WorldsYoung People and Mental HealthYour Child, Bully or Victim?

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Maverick MindReview - Maverick Mind
A Mother's Story of Solving the Mystery of her Unreachable, Unteachable, Silent Son
by Cheri Florance with Marin Gazzaniga
Perigee Trade, 2004
Review by Anthony R Dickinson, Ph.D.
Nov 25th 2008 (Volume 12, Issue 48)

Reminiscent of the pains and passions of her like-minded predecessors in Paul de Kruif (A Man Against Insanity, 1957) and Oliver Sacks (The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, 1985), Florance records here a first-person account of her investigatory clinical observations and discoveries for a non-specialist readership. Coining the term 'Maverick Minds' to describe her highly-visual/low-verbal functioning patients (the key example of the book being one of her own children), the author relates a personal 15-year adventure to include the sufferings (and eventual pleasures) evolving around the development of a potentially 'closed' autistic-like behaving boy, to relatively high-functioning, literate, collegiate scholar. With a maverick enthusiasm (in the usual sense of the word) and a stubborn determinism to solve the mystery of her son's aberrant infant behavior, Florance tells of how she embarked upon a number of scientifically-informed remedial educational intervention practices and training schedules of her own design, whilst stubbornly rejecting the classical diagnoses of her own child as being 'autistic'. This method of enquiry (so often neglected in the pursuit of clinical categorization and prognostic intervention pattern-matching, in my view), was ardently pursued by Florance in an attempt to determine (and focus upon) what the young 'autistic-like' boy could do, rather than remaining content to determine what he could not do, in order to develop her training techniques. Many of this book's 18 chapters repeat this theme (though not always explicitly), and it is in tribute to Florance, both as participant investigator and author, that her perseverance and tenacity has resulted in the brighter future now available to her son, and to many others who may now be able to benefit from her writings, and continued clinical work.

Those familiar with the lives of autistic children (whether with specific or more broad-spectrum component diagnoses), will not be surprised to read the authors' frequent references to the life and work of Helen Keller (and her barrier-breaker, Annie Sullivan). Indeed, it is entirely appropriate that Keller's experience be recounted as an example in guiding the non-technical (or less neurophilosophically inclined) reader to understand the authors' logic, as they recount the various stages of the developing 'maverick mind' from infantile social isolation, through protolinguistic competency, towards gradual (although significantly delayed) social integration with age-matched peers, as said to have been exhibited during her son's adolescence. I would personally have preferred to also read of the ontological developing brain story which might accompany Florance's arguments (complete with discussion of the emerging plasticity of specific neural circuits in the brain), but perhaps that may await a further volume. Although little clear evidence for emerging neural connectivity development is currently available in addressing Florance's claims directly, I can foresee that such stories are readily beginning to emerge from a piecing together from a variety of fMRI studies now conducted (rather than relying upon the more traditionally favored pharmacological, and morbid anatomy literature).

Further welcome additions to this volume, would include a searchable index, perhaps a glossary of key terms, and some references to the relevant scientific research literature supporting Florance's thinking (though a few website addresses available at the time of publication, were provided for exploration and further reading). By no means a failure of this highly stimulating, motivating, (and I hope) inspiring work, this book relates a story of a 'classic' kind, written by a consultant practitioner who is highly passionate about her field, and one which I will be highly recommending to many of my student psychologists and clinical interns seeking a career in remedial education, a concerned parent seeking a role model, or an educational consultant needing a gentle reminder to be alert to what presenting children can do.

© 2008 Tony Dickinson

Tony Dickinson, Ph.D., Academic Research Laboratory, People Impact International Inc, HK., March, 2008.


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