Publishing positive education information for parents & teachers since 2000

Learning Difficulties

Understanding Autism - Expanded and Updated 2nd Edition

The Essential Guide for Parents

by Professor Katrina Williams & Professor Jacqueline Roberts
Published by Exisle Publishing

ISBN 9781925335712


Written by two leading experts in the field, this updated edition covers everything from the causes of autism to how it manifests at the various ages and stages of a child’s life.  Comprehensive information is included and written in a warm and helpful manner,  with chapters such as Looking after Yourself, in which there is interesting information and answers for parents who may have asked themselves some of the questions discussed. There is also helpful information on dealing with your child's life changes such as starting primary school and how to cope with high school, with bullying, anxiety,  sensory problems and a lot more. We have kept the authors, Professor Katrina Williams and Professor Jacqueline Roberts first book here for your information.




Understanding Autism

by Professor Katrina Williams & Professor Jacqueline Roberts
Published by Exisle Publishing

ISBN 9781921966729




Interest in autism has been propelled into the cultural mainstream from films and novels to a common-use term heard just about everywhere. Families with children who have autism share a need for understanding that is unshackled from stereotyping with clear, non-judgemental and trusted information.

Drawing on the author's years of clinical experience and the latest research this book covers the importance of self-care for parents, how to cope with common problematic behaviours, conditions that can appear in conjunction with autism, common health issues and how to best manage the transition to adulthood.

Case studies provide practical examples for parents and their families, showing how to deal with professionals and cope with everyday stress with a better understanding of their young person's autism.


“The best parents’ guide to Autism..  The authors projected an environment where the parent or caregiver felt supported, confident and reassured that they could help their children”. Unity Qld.




The ADHD Hand Book

by Stuart Passmore

Published by
Exisle Publishing

ISBN 9781921966118



The ADHD Hand Book Provides parents with a clear, easy-to-follow manual that will guide them through everything form initial diagnosis to subsequent treatment (both medication and therapies) and beyond.


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is now one of the most common childhood disorders right across the world, with a wealth of conflicting advice available everywhere you look. But most parents want only one thing: to find out what is going on with their child and how they can help them.

The ADHD Handbook by psychologist Stuart Passmore, draws upon the most up-to-date research from around the world to present a comprehensive look at ADHD, covering everything from how it is diagnosed to the common myths surrounding what causes it, from the brain anatomy implicated in the disorder to the pros and cons of the various types of medication, and from the most effective psychotherapies to the best parenting techniques.




Ahh! Now I Understand (Overcoming Learning Difficulties)

by Dr Irene Broadley-Westerduin

Illustrations by Andy Catling

Published by

ISBN 9780992318284



This book will help you understand why some children find some aspects of learning more difficult.


Although it is not useful to compare children, finding out what affects each child’s learning can go a long way to help them to make progress and build their confidence in order to flourish.  It is vital that a child (or their parent or teacher) does not feel that it’s a “fault”, and instead helps them to learn strategies when given the right tools.


"Ahh! Now I Understand" helps the reader discover that process and the visual images are just as important to help see things in a different way. In my day-to-day work as an Educational Psychologist,  hope that this book will encourage people to seek the right help so that others can find ways to excel in their own gifts. - Dr Irene Broadley-Westerduin



I believe “Ahh! Now I Understand” gives a realistic insight into the difficulties children like James face. It captures the frustration and confusion these children have to deal with on a daily basis and should be read by all teachers.  Joe thought it was a fantastic story and said...”it’s great that it’s seen through James’ eyes, I can really identify with the story.”  - Stacey, Joe’s mum.




Overcoming Learning Difficulties

by Anthony P Franklin

Published by

ISBN  9780994153807





Anthony Franklin demystifies learning difficulties and disabilities in clear and easy-to-understand everyday language as he shares 40 years of experience helping children to succeed. He explains what your child’s behaviour means so you can accurately identify causes of the problems.


There are many explanatory diagrams and check lists included as well as useful references and websites to help you continue your research so you can be clearer about how to help fix your child?s learning problems.


  • Brain based solutions
  • A step-by-step approach
  • Profile underlying causes
  • Decide when to refer
  • Get results - fast


to all those parents and professionals searching for answers as to why some children do not make progress commensurate with their age and cognitive ability.

- David Wardell MINZM, BEd, ADVDip.Tchg., M.A.A.I.C. NZCER LEVEL C ASSESSOR Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to education.




Fine Motor Skills for Children with Down Syndrome: A Guide for Parents and Professionals

by  M. Bruni

Published by Woodbine Press





Reviewed by Mary Mountstephen -


This book, in its 3rd edition, provides an accessible guide to developing fine motor skills across a wide age spectrum and it is written from the author’s long experience of working with families of children with Down Syndrome.


It provides a combination of research and best practice in sensory processing and the development of fine motor skills at home, in school and socially. Bruni uses the metaphor of a building a house as the structure for developing fine motor skills ,based on the components of development rather than stages.

Bruni writes in a very accessible style, with many photographs and charts illustrating her points. She covers physical development from infancy to adulthood and relates this to ways in which parents and schools can support optimal levels of performance.


Key issues of stability, bilateral coordination and sensation are explored as the foundations for the acquisition of more complex and precise skills and Bruni explains very clearly the physical challenges that children with Down Syndrome can face. She includes some specific activities that are related to skills such as cutting, colouring and printing, leading on to cursive script. A chapter on sensory processing provides a number of case studies/profiles and the book closes with an appendix that provides a set of visual motor worksheets and a glossary of associated terms.


This is a useful guide to ways to support the development of skills in children with Down syndrome and provides much information for parents, other family members and those working in settings.




The Weighted Blanket Guide

 by  E. Parker and C. Koscinski

Published by  Jessica Kingsley Publishers

ISBN: 9781859057189




Reviewed by Mary Mountstephen -


The rather lengthy subtitle of this book is: ‘Everything You Need to Know about Weighted Blankets and Deep Pressure for Autism, Chronic Pain and Other Conditions’.


It is aimed at occupational therapists, those working in the field of autism and parents.


The authors write from a personal and professional perspective as Parker has a diagnosis of autism and sensory processing disorder and discovered the effectiveness of weighted blankets whilst in therapy.  Koscinski is an occupational therapist who contributes to the book based on her many years of experience providing services to schools and families. This is a simply written guide that combines an overview of research with anecdotes and information to explain how these blankets can assist with issues such as anxiety, improve sleep and ease chronic pain. It reflects a growing interest in the role of deep pressure and the use of physical approaches to addressing disabilities and how weight can be used as an effective therapeutic tool.


At times it reads a little like an extended ad for a product and some of the advice is somewhat simplistic; however it does raise awareness of this sensory resource and also provides a simple guide to choosing or making blankets. The authors are US based and this is reflected in some parts of the text that are more relevant for that audience. However the book would be of interest to those seeking basic information about this type of approach to complex and often distressing disabilities.




The Parent’s Guide to Occupational Therapy for Autism and Other Special Needs
by C. Koscinski

Published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers

ISBN: 9781785927058




Reviewed by Mary Mountstephen -


This book won a Family Choice Award in 2015,  written by an experienced occupational therapist and mother of 2 children with special needs.

It provides strategies for motor skills, sensory integration and other issues and will be of interest as a resource book for parents and as a basis for school-based parent workshops where there are concerns or a diagnosis of learning differences.


The book explains the role of occupational therapists and is intended to provide basic information about early development and issues such as feeding and articulation issues and associated potential strategies and solutions. The author also explains why some children react badly to loud sounds or to changes in routine.


Koscinski writes in a very clear and accessible style, outlining concerns and providing support and activities to maximize development. She provides responses and associated strategies to questions such as:

  • Why is my child chewing on his shirt, pencil or other items?
  • Why does my child crash into people and furniture all the time?

This is a very helpful and supportive book that also includes developmental checklists for children up to the age of 5 in relation to a number of skills and a handy section on relevant resources.


It is essentially a practical, hands-on introductory text that would support parents and help children succeed with everyday tasks while having fun in the process.


Key Perspectives on Dyslexia:
An Essential Text for Educators

by David Armstrong and Garry Squires

Published by Routledge: Taylor Francis Group




Reviewed by Mary Mountstephen -


The authors of this text both have a strong background in UK based special education and educational psychology. As the title states, it is aimed at practitioners and is linked to the British Dyslexia Association professional criteria. As such, it is a recommended text for those seeking accreditation on courses such as Approved Teacher Status and associate membership of the BDA.

The book is wide ranging in its content, covering areas such as:

  • Socio-political influences on identification
  • The visual deficit hypothesis
  • Models of reading
  • Identification and assessment
  • Dyslexia and wellbeing
  • Intelligence and dyslexia

The authors set out with the aim of producing a text that draws together and clarifies key issues and encourages the reader to reflect on these in the context of their own practice. Reflective questions are posed in each chapter and help to consolidate understanding. They use case studies to illustrate points, with examples covering the age range 10-18.

Throughout the book they stress the diversity and complexity of dyslexia as a concept and they aim to ‘provoke critical questions…on the topics presented’.

The book concludes with a description of the qualities they perceive the professional profile of a specialist teacher (dyslexia/ LD) would be.

This slim text (161 pages) packs in a huge amount of distilled wisdom and it would be of great value to those interested in training in this field, as well as the classroom practitioner.




Dyslexia, Literacy Inclusion
by  S. Macblain, L. Long and J. Dunn

Published by Sage Publications





Reviewed by Mary Mountstephen -


The authors of this book are university-based experts in child development and learning differences in England and Northern Ireland, with Macblain and Long also having a background as educational psychologists.


The aim of this book is to place dyslexia, or developmental literacy difficulty, within a context of inclusion and diversity.  It is designed for students, practitioners and lecturers in Higher Education Institutions, from a wide range of associated disciplines such as speech and language therapy and psychology.


Each chapter follows a common format, opening with a list of aims, followed by information and exercises for the reader to complete, reflecting on the content.  This is followed by a brief summary, recommended reading and comprehensive referencing.


 Part 1 - outlines the ‘changing nature of childhood’, pupils’ perspectives of dyslexia and related background in emotional intelligence and holistic approaches/ interventions.


In Part 2, the authors focus on aspects of best practice in raising literacy standards and the need to create culturally responsive curricula that follow children’s interests. This is then related to the challenges facing those responsible for teacher training, both at the initial level and as mentors in practice,


This is a well-written book that focuses on early years and the primary sector and provides much information and guidance as well as raising important issues about how dyslexia can be re-framed in the 21st Century.




Parenting for a Happier Home:
A step- by-step guide to keeping your kids on track

by Stuart Passmore

Published by Exisle Publishing

ISBN: 978-1-921966-11-8



Reviewed by Reviewed by Janine Zimbler: Individual, Couple, Family and Child Therapist, Sydney, Australia.


This is a really good contemporary parenting manual for parents and professionals alike.

What I particularly like is the very useful and helpful information the author arms parents with and the practical strategies he provides to help parents build relationships with their children.  Given this I think the title might be a bit of a misnomer – perhaps the book is more of a step-by-step guide to keeping parents on track!

The manual’s reach is mainly parents of children and young people up to the early teens. Stuart Passmore develops and expands on the underlying principals of the Triple P Parenting Program to include critical information for parents on parenting styles, attachment theory, emotional intelligence and moral development. The recipe for active and reflective listening is an excellent tool for parents to use to develop communication and relationship with their children and with each other. A thorough and accessible book that is easy to read and understand. Thank you Stuart!


My Rating – will definitely recommend to friends, family members, parents and professionals with whom I work.




A Guide to Living with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (Hypermobility Type)
2nd Edition

by Isobel Knight

Published by Singing Dragon




Reviewed by Mary Mountstephen -


Isobel Knight is the author of several books as well as a practising Bowen Therapist and periodic lecturer. Her unique perspective on this syndrome is that she is both a person with the condition and a therapist.

The book opens with an explanation of the syndrome and how it differs from generalised joint hypermobility. Knight then proceeds to outline the various symptoms and how they impact on body systems such as the respiratory, reproductive and digestive systems. She writes from a personal perspective and intersperses information with photographs, occasional poems and stories about living with the syndrome.

The book contains useful indicators and explains what happens in meetings and consultations with medical specialists. Early symptoms can include lateness in meeting developmental milestones such as walking and a tendency to bottom shuffle rather than crawl as well as significant pain and hypermobility. The author suggests that there are potential links with Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) and in terms of some learning disorders.

Knight writes powerfully about the physical pain of the condition and how it affects her daily life. She then details her approaches to managing the pain and the role of complementary and more traditional / mainstream approaches.


This book spans a wide age range, covering difficulties in childhood and the adult world. Its popularity has prompted this second edition.


Cognitive Assessments for Multilingual Young Learners: A tool for identifying SpLDs in young learners of English
by Anne Margaret Smith

Published by ELT-well

ISBN: 978-0-9932641-3-9

£90.00 (UK price)



Reviewed by Mary Mountstephen -


Dr Anne Margaret Smith has produced this very useful guide to the 5 most common SpLD’s (Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, ADHD, Dyscalculia and Asperger’s Syndrome) in children aged 7-15 who do not have English as a first language. This is based on her work internationally in schools, colleges and clinical settings and through her doctorate work.


The resource has arisen out of this experience and has been refined through many workshops and training sessions. Some of the activities are accessible for group interventions whereas others are intended for use 1:1 use  and the multisensory resources required for this are included.

Smith provides a colour coded overview of aspects of SpLD such as processing speed and visual/ auditory memory and links these to assessment activities. Each activity is clearly described in terms of aims, procedures and interpretation and the resource is intended for teachers and support assistants.

Smith stresses that the assessment materials are ‘’tools’ to help support learners and that professional judgment is the most important element in the process. They are not intended to replace more formal assessments.


Smith has produced a very useful resource grounded in theory and practice in the fields of SpLd’s and English as an Additional Language.  She makes reference to other available tests and also to further sources of resources and references in these fields.

This is a very useful resource for schools, both as a source of resources and as a means of raising awareness about EAL and SpLD .



The Reason I Jump

by Naoki Higashida

Translated by David Mitchell

Published by Hodder and  Stoughton

ISBN: 978-0-9932641-3-9

£90.00 (UK price)




Reviewed by Mary Mountstephen -


Written by Naoki Higashida when he was only thirteen, this remarkable book provides a rare insight into the often baffling behaviour of autistic children. Using a question and answer format, Naoki explains things like why he talks loudly or repeats the same questions, what causes him to have panic attacks, and why he likes to jump. He also shows the way he thinks and feels about his world - other people, nature, time and beauty, and himself. Abundantly proving that people with autism do possess imagination, humour and empathy, he also makes clear how badly they need our compassion, patience and understanding.


David Mitchell and his wife have translated Naoki's book so that it might help others dealing with autism and generally illuminate a little-understood condition. It gives us an exceptional chance to enter the mind of another and see the world from a strange and fascinating perspective.



Specific Learning Difficulties: What Teachers Need to Know

by D. Hudson


Published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers

ISBN 978-1-84905-590-1



Reviewed by Mary Mountstephen -


Diane Hudson is a tutor and mentor to students with SpLD’s. She also has personal experience of dyslexia as well as being the mother to 3 children diagnosed with SpLD’s. The book is intended for those working in the secondary sector and is a practical guide to teaching more effectively. It also serves as a very useful reference book that would be of value to those in teacher training and other professionals.


Hudson devotes a chapter to each of a range of learning differences including dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD and dyscalculia and each chapter follows a similar format. There are also two chapters detailing strategies for organization and exam preparation. The book includes a number of simple illustrations and the layout includes checklists and bullet points as well as key summary points.

The book is presented in a very readable format with many practical tips and strategies as well as stressing the positive ‘upsides’ or strengths of each condition. There is a glossary, a summary table of common areas of difficulty and a very useful section providing sources of further information and support.

Hudson has produced a book that will appeal to a wide audience and it would also be of value to older students with SpLD’s seeking advice, guidance and reassurance about learning more effectively.



Autism Movement Therapy: Waking Up The Brain

by J. Lara and K. Bowers

Published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers

ISBN 978-1-84905-728-8




Reviewed by Mary Mountstephen -


Autism Movement Therapy (AMT) has been created using aspects of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA), combined with music and movement as a brain-body intervention for children with ASD.

Lara  founded an organisation that trains and licences dancers, teachers and other professionals to deliver this structured therapeutic technique in 45-minute sessions. She is also an  ABA therapist in Los Angeles and a  Core Adjunct Professor. Bowers, is a filmmaker and art director who founded The Art of Autism, which showcases the creative and artistic talents of children and adults with autism. The book is divided into two parts. Part 1 outlines the benefits of movement and music in relation to the development of core skills as well as increased self-determination, self-regulation and improved sensory processing. The authors include a number of diagrams and photographs and then provide an outline of a typical session, including information about music, linked to other skills being taught.


In Part 2 the authors provide information about behaviour plans and the use of AMT to develop social skills that can then be used in a range of settings such as the playground and other everyday environments. This is an interesting introduction to this approach and it is written in a practical style. I t would perhaps have benefited from more detailed descriptions of the movements themselves and with more detail about the underlying rationale.




Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and How to Think Smarter About People Who Think Differently

by S. Silberman

Published by Allen and Unwin

ISBN 978-1-76011-363-6




Reviewed by Mary Mountstephen -


This book follows on from the author’s article entitled ‘The Geek Syndrome’ and focuses on the concept of neurodiversity through a very thorough exploration of the history of autism and the clinicians who developed early concepts in this field.  The original article explored the rise in diagnosis of autism in the U.S and in Silicon Valley in particular and focused on a positive perspective of the skills and talents of the autistic individual.  The book opens with a foreword by Oliver Sachs who describes it as ‘a sweeping and penetrating history….it will change how you think of autism’.

This is a fascinating book written in a journalistic style and, with over 450 pages, it is possibly a holiday read or one to dip into chapter by chapter. It describes the lives of many individuals and families and the ways in which a diagnosis of autism or Asperger Syndrome affected lives. It challenges the concept of ‘normal’ and invites the reader to see the world through the eyes of an autistic individual.


Silberman became interested in the history of autism, learning how it was first discovered in 1943 by a child psychiatrist named Leo Kanner who named the condition from the Greek word for self: autos, because those with autism  seemed happiest in isolation. The author  develops the concept of autism as ‘a strange gift from our deep past…a valuable part of humanity’s genetic legacy..’


An absolutely stunning book and a worthy winner of The Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 2015.
Highly recommended.




Attachment-Based Teaching: Creating a Tribal Classroom

by Louis Cozolino

Published by Corwin:

 A Sage Company

ISBN 9780393709049

RRP £15.99 -  AU$50.25


Reviewed by Mary Mountstephen -


Cozolino lectures around the world on brain development, evolution and psychotherapy and is the author of several books. Here he explores the quality of student attachment to teachers and peers and presents a classroom model of secure attachment through creating supportive ’tribal’ classrooms and school communities.

The book is divided into four sections, opening with information on his four key principles, which he defines as:

  • Tribes: a group of individuals that are tied together by shared time, familiarity and common purpose
  • Secure attachments: the ability to be soothed by others and to experience safety through proximity
  • Neuroplasticity: the ability of the nervous system to change in response to experience
  • Work-arounds: a strategy to activate small group dynamics such as keeping classrooms and schools as small as possible.

In Parts 3 and 4 Cozolino expands on the social aspects of learning and also provides a number of practical exercises to work with. These are designed to build a strong community, particularly for children who are struggling to learn due to past trauma, social-emotional challenges and other barriers to learning.

This book is well crafted, with many relevant quotations and thought provoking concepts.




Understanding Cognitive Development

by Maggie McGonigle-Chalmers

Published by Sage Publications

ISBN 9781412928816





Reviewed by Mary Mountstephen -


This book has been written both for students and lecturers and would also be of value to teachers with an interest in the development of young children’s minds. Each chapter is divided into two or three parts and each part is divided into numbered sections that correspond to summary panels, some of which link to videos providing examples of the relevant behaviours.

The author begins by describing very early childhood development, with the reflex bound newborn and the growth of the brain in infancy. This is then linked to growth and perceptual development.

Further chapters address sensorimotor development and the role of executive functions. There are many drawings and photographs to illustrate specific pieces of research and the layout is very clear and accessible.

McGonigle-Chalmers introduces the concept of psychophysics, which relates to the view that all perception is still developing into the early school years rather than ‘set’ at a much younger age. She then relates this to the development of memory, processing speed and the differences between visual and auditory memory.

For those with an interest in the Theory of Mind, the author devotes a chapter to research in this field and its links to executive functioning.

This is a well-structured and thoughtful approach to the field of early cognitive development, with interesting points for reflection and discussion. It provides a very thorough overview of historical and current research.

© 2001 - 2018


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Publishing positive education information for parents & teachers since 2000
Publishing positive education information for parents & teachers since 2000
Publishing positive education information for parents & teachers since 2000
Publishing positive education information for parents & teachers since 2000

Publishing positive education information for parents & teachers since 2000
Publishing positive education information for 
parents and teachers since 2000
Publishing positive education information for 
parents and teachers since 2000
Publishing positive education information for parents and teachers since 2000

Publishing positive education information for parents and teachers since 2000

Publishing positive education information for parents & teachers since 2000