This chapter seeks to outline the approach taken in the book and indicate its underlying principles. The genesis of the book is described by way of giving an initial justification, and subsequently the way it is structured around identified areas, deemed to require special teaching, is discussed. The issue of the right for all to be able to access appropriate education is explored, along with the needs for a new kind of curricular flexibility and openness in higher education. Finally, the chapter emphasizes the valuing of diversity, and the need to recognize and understand the range of individual differences in learning, and respond to them with a way of teaching that utilizes knowledge of special skills and strategies.
The origins of this book can be traced to two complementary sources. Some of my own professional work involves issues surrounding autism, and the psychology and education of individuals with 'autistic spectrum disorders' (ASD). Much of the pioneering research and practice in the field has been targeted at the early years, the years of formal schooling, and care in the post-schooling phase. But as understanding of autism and its range of manifestations across the spectrum (and I include here Asperger's syndrome) has improved, as diagnosis has become more sophisticated and