autism spectrum disorder

Act Early Against Autism: Give Your Child a Fighting Chance from the Start, by Jayne Lytel, is one of Penguin Group’s newest books. Lytel takes readers on a journey as she goes from a parent who is concerned about her child’s development to outspoken autism advocate.

Leo’s Story

After a brief introduction, the book starts with Leo’s Story. Leo is Lytel’s second child and from the start his development seems to be a bit off. When Lytel raised her concerns to the child’s pediatrician, they were dismissed and Lytel was left with her gut feeling that something was just not typical with Leo.

What Lytel experienced is what so many parents of children with an autism spectrum disorder deal with. By telling the story of the early days, she lets readers in a similar situation know that they are not alone. It is okay to go with your gut instinct and push for that follow-up exam or that specialist’s visit. In the end, Leo was ultimately diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specific (PDD-NOS), one of the five types of autism spectrum disorders.

Social Outcasts

One of the most heart-wrenching stories that Lytel offers in her book is the story of being a social outcast. Parents of children with an autism spectrum disorder are often shunned or left out of typical childhood activities. Lytel tells of a trip to a birthday party; ultimately it was too much for Leo and he had a meltdown.

Instead of support from the mother of the birthday girl, Lytel is faced with a request for her and Leo to leave so as to not ruin the little girl’s birthday party. The party hostess continued to persist in suggesting that Lytel immediately leave and offered to help usher her out the door. That was the only help that the hostess offered. Parents of children with an autism spectrum disorder face this on a daily basis. By sharing this story, Lytel gives outsiders a glimpse into the public life of families dealing with autism.

Practical Information

After Lytel tells her personal story, she continues on by offering practical advice to parents who are concerned about their child’s development. Topics such as evaluation and diagnosis, proper educational settings, autism treatments and alternative therapies, and a look at the financial hardships of dealing with an autism spectrum disorder are discussed. The book is filled with Fast Facts and Inform Yourself sections that provide the reader with more detailed information on hot topics.

About the Author

Jane Lytel is a graduate of the University of Florida and was a nationally syndicated columnist prior to donning her new hat as parent of a child with autism. She is the founder of The Early Intervention Network dedicated to “promote policies and practices that raise awareness of the early warning signs of autism spectrum disorders and expedite treatment for newly diagnosed children.”

Act Early Against Autism is an excellent book and should be the first purchase for parents who are concerned about their child’s development. In addition, the book offers practical advice for parents of children recently diagnosed with autism. The book is a gem and deserves a spot on the bookshelves of teachers, professionals, and family members who care for a child with autism.


Act Early Against Autism: Review: Give Your Child a Fighting Chance from the Start by Jayne Lytel


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