I wholeheartedly and without reservation DO NOT RECOMMEND Robert Sears' The Autism Book. As a parent of a child with autism, I found almost nothing about this book valuable and, in fact, think that it contains a great deal of dangerous and misleading information.
There are a few different schools of thought when it comes to autism. This book, which is subtitled, "What Every Parent Needs to Know About Early Detection, Treatment, Recovery, and Prevention" is squarely in the biomedical, "if you spend enough time and money, your child can recover from autism (except for a few of those social skills, stimming, and obsessiveness traits)."
Even the parts of this book that I agree with in terms of early intervention and therapies, I had a hard time taking seriously coming from Dr. Sears, who ended many of his sections with, "For more information go to the Talk About Curing Autism (TACA) website or talk to a TACA mom," and who lists Jenny McCarthy's book in his recommended reading section.
Sears heartily recommends, among other things, supplements. At one point he lays out a sample supplement schedule in which are included twenty-seven daily doses of supplements, plus an-every-three nights injection.
He has a section on the controversial practice of chelation (removing heavy metals from the body) in which he admits that "Metals that had been sitting (somewhat harmlessly) in the body fat may resettle in the brain [during chelation]." He goes on to dismiss this as "just a theoretical concern." And that's just one of my objections to this section. I don't know a whole lot about chelation, but I know for a fact that I would never subject my child to it.
What about Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, in which children spend an hour a day in an HBOT chamber five days a week for eight weeks? In a box he titles "Start Saving Your Money," he says, "I believe that this is probably the most worthwhile multithousand-dollar therapy that you can spend your money on." I think I'll save my money for something else, thank you very much.
So vaccines. Sears has written a whole other book on vaccines, but here is what he has to say about vaccinating children with autism: "I generally recommend that any child diagnosed with autism not receive any more vaccines." This, despite the fact that studies have shown over and over that there is NO credible link between vaccines and autism.
I dog-eared pages in the book on which I found information that alarmed or offended me, or that I feel to be patently misleading or contradictory, with the intention of sharing some of that information with you. But honestly, I don't have the space in this review to do that (there are a lot of dog ears in my book), nor do I have the energy. This book mostly just depressed me.
There are a lot of parents out there who are devastated by the possibility of autism, and while I admit that it can be scary and heartbreaking, I don't believe that spending tens of thousands of dollars and making your child spend every hour of his or her day in therapy and taking vast amounts of supplements is the answer. Honestly, it sounds miserable to me. Hanging out with my autistic kid and organically teaching him to learn and be a good guy sounds like a lot more fun. And worthwhile.
I wish that there were a catch-all autism book with good, solid, specific information. However, this isn't it. I believe that this book will be latched on to by autism parents searching for a miracle and for whom "recovery" seems plausible and desirable. I wish them well, but I don't think the words in this book are much good for anybody.
I repeat: I wholeheartedly and without reservation do not recommend this book.
Honesty Clause: I was sent a review copy of this book at no charge.