Extract from Uniquely Human

Autism Spectrum Disorder is now among the most commonly diagnosed developmental disabilities; the U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimates that it affects as many as one in fifty school-age children. A flood of professionals and programs has emerged to serve these children: physicians, therapists, schools, afterschool programs. There are karate classes and theatre programs for children with autism, sports camps and religious schools and yoga classes. At the same time, charlatans and opportunists with minimal or no experience – and even some with professional credentials – advertise their approaches as “breakthroughs.” Unfortunately autism treatment is a largely unregulated enterprise.

All this has made life even more challenging for parents. Which professional to trust? Who can explain your child? Which treatment will succeed? Which diet? Which therapy? Which medication? Which school? Which tutor?

Like any parents, these mothers and fathers want what’s best for their children. But, struggling with a developmental disability they don’t understand, they don’t know where to turn.

My job for four decades has been to help transform their desperation into hope, to replace anxiety with knowledge, to turn self-doubt into confidence and comfort, and to help them see as possible what they thought was impossible. I have worked with thousands of families touched by autism, helping them to reframe their experience of the condition, and in turn build healthier, fuller lives. That’s what I hope this book will help you to do, whether you are a parent, relative, a friend, or a professional working to support these children and their families.

It starts with shifting the way we understand autism. Again and again I have witnessed the same phenomenon: parents come to perceive their child as so radically different from others that the child’s behaviour seems beyond comprehension. They have come to believe that the tools and instinct they would bring to raising any other child just won’t work with a child who has autism. Influenced by some professionals, they see certain behaviors as “autistic” and undesirable and perceive their goal as eliminating these behaviors and somehow fixing the child.

I have come to believe that this is a flawed understanding – and the wrong approach. Here is my central message: The behaviour of people with autism isn’t random, deviant, or bizarre, as many professionals have called it for decades. These children don’t come from Mars. The things they say aren’t – as many professionals still maintain – meaningless or “non-functional.”

Autism isn’t an illness. It’s a different way of being human. Children with autism aren’t sick; they are progressing through developmental stages as we all do. To help them, we don’t need to change them or fix them. We need to work to understand them, and then change what we do.


Extracted from ‘Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism’ by Dr Barry M. Prizant, published by Souvenir Press, £20.

Find Uniquely Human here: http://bit.ly/2f4PaG9

Uniquely Human cover



Modesty Blaise at the Edinburgh Book Festival

On the 16th August Stef Penney will run a reading workshop on Modesty Blaise at the Edinburgh Book Festival. Stef Penney is a screenwriter and novelist. She is the creator of Modesty Blaise adaptations for Radio 4, having adapted Modesty Blaise, The Silver Mistress, and Modesty Blaise- A Taste for Death.  Buy tickets for the workshop here: https://www.edbookfest.co.uk/the-festival/whats-on/stef-penney-on-modesty-blaise-10427

Peter O’Donnell created the character of Modesty Blaise for a strip cartoon in 1963. Since then, Modesty Blaise has gone from strength to strength. The series was eventually syndicated in over 42 countries and produced 13 novels (all published by Souvenir Press). Here are some of the great things others have said about the series:

“The continuing renaissance of the immortal heroine: thrilling, humorous and timeless adventures, the Modesty Blaise series are seminal British crime novels… a high-point of popular fiction.” – ‘Crime Time’


“Modesty Blaise was the comic-strip criminal genius, turned occasional secret service operative, who managed to combine timeless beauty and elegance with the ability to break every bone in your body… there’s never been a better time to become acquainted.” – ‘The Crack’


“Before Buffy, before Charlie’s Angels, before Purdy and Emma Peel there was Modesty Blaise. For almost 40 years, Peter O’Donnell’s iconic heroine drop-kicked her way through a swath of villains and into a unique place in popular culture.” – ‘The Observer’

Find Modesty Blaise titles by clicking on the jackets below:

Modesty-Blaise cover big    Dead Man's Handle   Dragons Claw  I Lucifer cover  Last Day in Limbo Night of the Morningstar


Sergeant Pepper is 50!

The Beatles ground-breaking album Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was released on the 26th May 1967 in the UK and the 1st of June in the US. We have been celebrating the fifty year anniversary all week.

It has been an exciting week for Beatles fans with the release of the fiftieth anniversary edition of Sergeant Pepper. Reviewing the fiftieth-anniversary edition of the album Alexis Petridis wrote in The Guardian that ‘Sgt Pepper often seems an album as much about rock star detachment and ennui as it is about peace and love… Rather than the grandiose, state-of-the-world address it was immediately taken as, perhaps Sgt Pepper is something less ostentatious and more personal: an album about hopes and fears.’ As well as it being the album that expressed the era in which it was made, Sergeant Pepper has a strong claim to being as relevant and necessary now as ever.

This sentiment was carried through in John Higgs’ blog ‘Sgt Pepper at 50: How the Beatles masterpiece could unite Brexit Britain’ where he claims that the greatness of Sergeant Pepper was its variety, the way in which it spoke to such a vast array of different people. It tells us a lot about what it is to be British, he claims:

‘The songs on Sgt Pepper tell us a lot about being British that we might at times forget. Fixing a Hole tells us that we can roll up our sleeves and fix things that are broken. Getting Better shows us that we can be optimistic, even when the future looks bleak. Within You Without You tells us to look inwards, and understand who we are. But this can only be achieved, the album reminds us, With a Little Help from My Friends.’

Last night Richard Bacon presented a documentary for Absolute Radio on the psychedelic story of The Beatles. He worked through the album song by song, dissecting and analysing the album. The second part is on Absolute Radio tonight 9pm.

BBC Two this Saturday are airing a further programme on The Beatles ‘Sgt Pepper’s Musical Revolution with Howard Goodall’. Here’s what they have to say about the programme:

Fifty years ago this week, on 1 June, 1967, an album was released that changed music history – The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. In this film, composer Howard Goodall explores just why this album is still seen as so innovative, so revolutionary and so influential. With the help of outtakes and studio conversations between the band, never heard before outside of Abbey Road, Howard gets under the bonnet of Sgt Pepper. He takes the music apart and reassembles it, to show us how it works – and makes surprising connections with the music of the last 1,000 years to do so.

It doesn’t stop there. For anyone wanting to understand  the real significance of The Beatles and how Sergeant Pepper connected with listeners fifty years ago should look no further than Tony Barrow’s excellent book Meet the Beatles. When it was first published in 1963, Meet the Beatles introduced the Beatles, in their own words (the four Beatles wrote the introduction to the book themselves), to the world. It originally sold over a million copies and this Special Collector’s edition retains the original cover art. It is filled with rare photographs that depict a day in the life of the Beatles and charts their journey to becoming to world’s biggest band.

The Special Collector’s edition relives the days of Beatlemania and is a unique piece of memorabilia, perfect for any Beatles fan. You can find it here: http://bit.ly/1UnveiP

Meet the Beatles front cover

For further reading, here are the links to the articles mentioned above:

‘The Beatles: Sgt Pepper 50th Anniversary Edition review – peace, love and rock star ennui’ – https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/may/25/beatles-sgt-pepper-50th-anniversary-edition-review-lonely-hearts-club-band-remix-album

‘Sgt Pepper at 50: How the Beatles masterpiece could unite Brexit Britain’ – https://www.theguardian.com/music/musicblog/2017/may/31/sgt-pepper-at-50-could-the-beatles-masterpiece-unite-brexit-britain

‘Sgt Pepper at 50 with Richard Bacon’ – https://absoluteradio.co.uk/schedule/sgt-pepper-at-50-with-richard-bacon-304/episodes/81777/

‘Sgt Pepper’s Musical Revolution with Howard Goodall’ – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08tb97f