Psychology professor examines autism in new book

Author: William G. Gilroy


A new book, titled “The Development of Autism: A Self-Regulatory Perspective,” by Thomas L. Whitman, a professor of psychology at the University of Notre Dame, provides a unique perspective on the nature of autism and how it develops over time.

Intended to serve as a college textbook and as a guide for parents, teachers, and therapists and other professionals, Whitmans book examines the key symptoms used in defining autism and other characteristics that are important for understanding the development of the disorder. Major psychological, social and biological theories of autism are reviewed and a new theory of autism is proposed that explains how people with autism develop a unique self-regulatory system that results in withdrawal from their social environment. The book also summarizes educational and biomedical interventions that have been utilized to treat the disorder. Finally, the impact of autism on families is examined and recommendations are made to parents and professionals regarding how families and children with autism can best be served.

The book emphasizes that even though autism cannot at present be cured, implementation of early intensive intervention programs can prevent many of the developmental delays associated with the disorder and help people with autism lead more typical lives. Currently, Whitman and his students, in conjunction with the new Regional Autism Center at Logan in South Bend, are helping families of children with autism to implement this type of program.

Whitman, who joined the Notre Dame faculty in 1967, focuses his research in the areas of early child development and intervention. He has a special interest in studying the factors associated with resilient development in at-risk children. He has been involved in several longitudinal studies evaluating the effects of medical and family environments on the socio-emotional and cognitive development of children.

Whitman teaches courses in developmental psychology, autism, developmental disabilities, behavior therapy, applied behavior analysis, psychology and medicine, and human resiliency.

“The Development of Autism” is published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers and is available at, or can be ordered through, Barnes&Noble and Borders.

  • _p. Contact:

_ * Thomas L. Whitman, professor of psychology, 574-631-5962, " " .

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