1-3 | Helping Children with Autism Become More Social: 76 Ways to Use Narrative Play

Book Review

Helping Children with Autism Become More Social: 76 Ways to Use Narrative Play

Ann E. Densmore
Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 2007. Notes, references, index. 272 pp. $49.95 cloth. ISBN: 9780275997021

by Virginia Ryan

First Paragraph:

Ann Densmore's book is very much a distillation of her many years' experience with children who have autism. Her book is intriguing on several levels. As she describes in her numerous examples, Densmore has found creative ways to engage autistic children by using the natural world in which they live. I especially liked her descriptions of a farm setting for lively, preschool twin boys and a lakeside setting for quieter, young girls she worked with over longer periods of time. Densmore's love of nature and her talent for sharing her experiences with her clients and encouraging them to develop their own connections with nature are touching and compelling. Her clinical examples also are in keeping with current thinking about autism, which calls for developing children's social skills, play, and language as a whole at the outset, rather than using more discrete skills training. Densmore also demonstrates how she helped unrelated children develop their social interactions with one another by her skilled and intensive scaffolding of their play experiences in her presence over a long period of time. Densmore brings her speech therapy practice to her work with these children in productive ways, showing how play and social interactions are at the heart of the motivation to communicate and need to be addressed first for children who are more profoundly autistic. In these ways Densmore's book will be a valuable resource for everyone interested in autism and in ways to work creatively with children having serious developmental difficulties.