I've thought more about what others have suggested and decided to repackage my book on autism spectrum disorders to focus on the main difference from other books: while I'm explaining autism as a professional, I'm using a narrative approach to walk the reader through the mind of the autistic child from prenatal brain development to adulthood, telling the child's story rather than simply delivering an encyclopedic laundry list of facts and information. In many ways, it's more like "Unstrange Minds" (a book about how autism is viewed around the world) than most books on autism. I think the storytelling approach makes it more accessible than most books out there. Not at all bragging, but after spending an hour with me, even parents who had read other books leave my office with a far better understanding of their child, and that's what I'm trying to recreate here. Oh, even though the movement is to use the term "Autism Spectrum Disorders", it's still a mouthful and I decided for this book to use the simpler term, though I am talking about all autism spectrum disorders (including Asperger). So this is a brand new book proposal below (using what I found listed as a standard proposal template online). Please let me know if this makes you want to read this book. Thanks so much!
Autism: A True Story
A New Way of Thinking for Parents, Teachers, and Clinicians
Despite the numerous books about autism on the market, parents continue to search for one that explains the disorder in a way that makes sense to them. Using a narrative style, current clinical research, and the author’s experience, this book tells the story of how early atypical brain development and environmental factors shape the presentation of autism spectrum disorders, propelling the reader into the mind of an autistic child. By understanding how the autistic child thinks, the reader will be able to develop an effective treatment plan to help them achieve success.
B. Unique selling proposition
If consumers in the target market purchase and read Autism: A True Story, then they will:
-Learn how early genetic and environmental factors lead to atypical brain development and how early experiences shape behaviors and skills that create the autism spectrum
-Learn how to recognize early signs of atypical brain development and how to procure appropriate services
-Learn how to develop an effective treatment plan
-Learn how to help children and adults with autism find success and happiness
Because the book will:
-Use a conversational tone, descriptive analogies, easy-to-understand explanations of current research, and anecdotes to explain autism from prenatal development to adulthood
-Describe the range of behaviors and difficulties seen in children on the autism spectrum
-Teach caregivers, educators, and clinicians how to manage challenging behaviors and learning styles using strategies supported by research and the author’s clinical experience
-Compare available interventions for effectiveness, risk, and practicality
- Discuss a public health approach of allocating available resources to help children with autism become successful members of society
The manuscript is divided into four distinct parts:
1. Part I: Is it my fault?
This section explains how a combination of genetic and early prenatal factors can lead to atypical brain development and what that means. It walks the reader through early signs of autism and shows how early experiences shape child development, leading to what we see as a spectrum of autistic behaviors.
2. Part II: Is there a cure?
Other books have proposed various biomedical and complementary/alternative therapies as “cures” for autism. This chapter reviews the risks of benefits of available treatments and addresses the question of whether we should really be searching for a cure or simply an understanding of how to encourage an autistic child’s strengths while teaching them the skills they need to be successful in a social world.
3. Part III: Is this permanent?
Autism lasts throughout life but it does not have to mean lifelong impairment. Families, educators, and clinicians working together can help people with autism live successful lives. This section provides specific recommendations for dealing with common behavior problems, such as sleep and aggression, based on peer-reviewed evidence and the author’s clinical experience. It further explains how to help a child with autism develop essential skills for transition to success in adulthood.
4. Part IV: Is there anything else I can do?
Families cannot manage the treatment costs and challenges of autism alone. This section explains how autism affects individuals, families, and society. It addresses the much-publicized autism “crisis” and proposes a strategic plan for how the reader can take action to help ensure people with autism become successful contributors to society.
A complete chapter-by-chapter synopsis is attached, giving a more detailed overview of the manuscript.
1. Manuscript status: the manuscript text is near-complete, with one chapter pending (two sample chapters are attached to this proposal).
2. Special features: the manuscript will include various diagrams and tables to illustrate important information in an easy-to-read format. A glossary of terms appears at the beginning of the book. Each chapter includes a section with specific bullet-pointed guidance for parents, educators, and clinicians. The final chapter offers a list of resources for the reader to learn more about any specific topic.
3. Manuscript length: 40,000 words (140 double-spaced manuscript pages)
4. Anticipated manuscript completion date: approximately two months after receiving a commitment from a publisher
The target audience for this book includes parents of young children and prospective parents, parents whose children have been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, educators, and clinicians.
This book is geared toward readers who want an introductory guide to autism that presents factual information in an engaging storytelling fashion, without having to sift through reams of medical jargon, and who are frustrated by the conflicting claims and arguments presented in books currently on the market.
C. Affinity groups
1. Parents of children who have been recently diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder
2. Parents who want to know how to look for early signs of autism
3. Parents who are frustrated with their child’s behavior or having trouble getting help
4. Autism advocacy groups (Autism Speaks, Autism Society of America)
5. Teachers and therapists
6. Pediatricians, family practice doctors, and other clinicians
7. Employers who hire under the Americans with Disabilities Act
8. Policymakers at state and national levels
Unlike other books that present a sterile, encyclopedic approach to autism by listing diagnostic criteria and are cost-prohibitive to the average reader (such as Sandra Judd’s Autism Sourcebook, Fred Volkmar’s A Practical Guide to Autism, or Moldin’s Understanding Autism: from Basic Neuroscience to Treatment), this book explains autism from a developmental perspective, using a personal narrative approach to tell the story of how atypical brain development occurs. Instead of focusing on behavior and social “problems”, this book explains how to apply a child’s individual strengths to help them be successful and happy. While other books promote one specific treatment (such as Bryon Jepson’s Changing the Course of Autism) or overload the reader with information about a wide range of treatments, both accepted and controversial (e.g. Autism for Dummies), this book presents a treatment approach that actually works. Despite the competition, my discussions with patients and other clinicians confirm demand for this book in today’s market.
I have a Medical Degree from New York University School of Medicine (1999) and a Master’s of Public Health from Harvard University (2009). I completed a fellowship in Developmental-Behavioral Medicine from Children’s Hospital Boston (2009). Prior to fellowship, I worked at a Developmental Medicine Clinic as a general pediatrician through the Air Force in Spangdahlem, Germany, where I ran a monthly call-in radio talk show answering medical questions. For several years I volunteered at a camp for children with special needs. I have worked with over one thousand children on the autism spectrum across ten years of pediatric practice, including both medical management and counseling families, and in clinical, school-based, and community settings. I have also lectured at local and national levels on autism spectrum disorders. Currently, I am a staff Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician and Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at the University Of South Carolina School Of Medicine in Greenville, SC.
B. Previous writing
I published a book review in the Journal of Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics. As this book blends clinical expertise with storytelling, it is important to note that my fiction and creative non-fiction have appeared in various literary markets, including Short Story America, Pinesong, People of Few Words Vol. 3, joyful!, Drabblecast, and Long Story Short. Samples of published work are available upon request. I have also won awards for medical fiction and writing for children.
C. Personal marketing
I counsel twenty to forty new families on autism spectrum disorders per month, follow a caseload of over three hundred patients, and supervise and lecture medical students, residents, and fellows. I am an active member of the Society of Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics, South Carolina Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Medical Association, as well as the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. I have experience with speaking to parent, teacher, student, and clinician groups and would be happy to speak at any related events about the information included in this book. The Greenville Hospital System has offered to promote the book to families and patients as part of its support for local authors. I am also speaking to national autism-related organizations (including Autism Speaks, Autism Society of America, and the SDBP) for support and assistance in promoting the book to membership and families.