Phoebe Caldwell

Autism: Respecting Difference

Autism: Respecting Difference is a simple and concise introduction to how the world is experienced differently by autistic people and how to respond suitably and sensitively to individuals.



Autism: Respecting Difference provides a concise introduction to the sensory and emotional experiences of autism. It is for families, support staff and professionals to better understand and engage with autistic people to offer meaningful and effective support.

The handbook is aimed at helping people who are new to autism to understand how it might feel to be autistic.  Autistic people experience the world around them differently to neurotypical people. Autistic people can be over- and under-sensitive to incoming signals which can overload the autistic brain, triggering anxiety and pain. This illustrated impactful book takes readers on a journey into the ‘brainworld of autism’.

The second part of the book explains how to use Responsive Communication and the autistic individual’s body language, to engage effectively and  how to reduce sensory stimulants and overload.


Autism: Respecting Difference is for support staff, education professionals, family members and anyone interested in gaining a better understanding of autism and how to engage positively with autistic people. It is especially suitable for those new to the area.


Publisher: Pavilion Publishing and Media Ltd

ISBN: 9781803881577

Publication Date: July 2022


Part One: The Brainworld of Autism

• Which of us is autistic?
•  Welcome to the brainworld of autism
•  Problems with connections
•  Connectivity problems and consequent distress behaviours are not character deficits
•  Synaesthesia
•  Sight
•  Sound
•  Taste and smell
•  Touch
•  Pressure
•  Hugs
•  Emotional overload
•  Speech
•  Bad words and bad feelings
•  Trauma
•  Physical feeling of self
•  Warning: Psychiatric (mis)diagnosis

Part Two: Responsive Communication

•  A bit of history
•  Using body language to communicate
•  Anticipation
•  Getting to know you
•  Case studies: April, Josh, Gabriel, Pranve
•  Respecting difference


Phoebe Caldwell DSc is a Responsive Communication Practitioner who has pioneered the development of support for people on the autistic spectrum for almost fifty years, opening channels of communication
and emotional engagement for thousands of  individuals who had previously experienced social and emotional isolation.

Internationally, Phoebe collaborates with professionals globally including Australia, the Netherlands,
Denmark and Canada.

Phoebe’s contribution was recognised when she won The Times/Sternberg Award, which celebrates outstanding contributions of people to their community and to public life made after their 70th birthday.


Jodie Zutt is an international artist based in Melbourne, Australia. She is on the autistic spectrum. Jodie met Phoebe in 2019 while researching autism and trauma, which led to their collaboration on Autism: Respecting Difference.


  1. Imogen Stidworthy, Artist and film maker

    It is an absolutely brilliant book, pitched so beautifully for anyone who might encounter a person with autism. It is a clear distillation of vast experience developed over decades. Every library, school and , well, everybody should have a copy.

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