Phoebe Caldwell

Hall of Mirrors – Shards of Clarity


Autism, neuroscience and finding a sense of self

Hall of Mirrors – Shards of Clarity has been written for healthcare professionals who work with children and adults on the autism spectrum.



Drawing on Phoebe Caldwell’s 40 years of experience and expert knowledge of autism and Intensive Interaction, Hall of Mirrors – Shards of Clarity marries recent neuroscience research evidence and practical approaches used in care to cover a wide range of vital subjects. Sense of self, confirmation, sensory issues, case studies and neuroscience findings are explored and weaved together in an inspired way which brings aims to bring theory into practice and vice versa, while at the same time listening to the voices of people with autism. The result is to allow everyone in the autism field to take a few steps forward with how they interact and support autistic people.

The journey in this book is one of exploration. Phoebe uses her experience of working with people on the autistic spectrum to consider what life is like for them and seeks to use new neuroscientific knowledge to help us understand better how this group of people see the world. In doing this she includes her own personal experiences, her years of work and most importantly the voices of people labelled as being on the autistic spectrum. This is an unusual synthesis and one which provides the reader with an accessible and interesting account and which makes a unique contribution to our understanding of each other.

In trying to understand better how people see the world Phoebe takes the reader on a personal journey into the recent research which is revealing more about how our brains work to create our own unique perceptions and view of the world. Her interest and passion inform the pages and provide the reader with an accessible account in which the practical implications of the research are clearly stated.

While many books now provide accounts of the lives of people labelled as being on the autistic spectrum, they are often written from one particular perspective. This book is interdisciplinary in its approach. As part of her journey Phoebe draws on history, psychology, neuroscience and personal narratives bringing them together through her own voice.


This book will be of interest to healthcare professionals who work with children and adults on the autism spectrum, as well as parents of autistic children, those with a general interest in the subject and individuals on the autism spectrum themselves.


ISBN: 9781911028772
Publication: 17 November 2017
Content: (subject to change)

Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Body language
Chapter 3: Grey world
Chapter 4: Connections
Chapter 5: Historical interlude
Chapter 6: Two brains
Chapter 7: The bridge
Chapter 8: Finding ways round the block
Chapter 9: What am I doing?
Chapter 10: Evolutionary interlude
Chapter 11: ‘I selfie therefore I am’
Chapter 12: Feelings
Chapter 13: Practice: responsive communication

Part 1: Sensory deficits
Part 2: Intensive interaction
Part 3: Confirmation

APPENDIX 1: Intensive Interaction
APPENDIX 2: Sensory Deficits Toolkit


For over 40 years, Phoebe Caldwell DSc has pioneered the development of communication support for individuals on the autistic spectrum, opening up channels of communication and emotional engagement for thousands of individuals across the UK whose previous experience had been one of social and emotional isolation. Phoebe’s work has been recognised nationally when she won The Times/Sternberg Award, which celebrates the achievements of people aged 70 or over who have done most for society in their older age. Internationally, Phoebe collaborates with a range of professionals from countries including Denmark, the Netherlands, Russia, Australia and Canada.

Phoebe’s way of working is distinctive in that it is rooted in respect for the identity of the individual as they are. The Caldwell Foundation uses the terms Responsive Communication and Intensive Interaction to describe Phoebe’s approach to communication support.

At the heart of Phoebe’s work is her one-to-one work with individuals on the autistic spectrum who find communication difficult. When Phoebe provides this one-to-one support, family and care-givers are there observing so that they can learn the approach and use it themselves with the individual. In this way, Intensive Interaction is used as a continuous communication tool so that the individual always has a meaningful point of reference.

Phoebe is employed by the NHS and local authorities to work with difficult-to-provide-for individuals. As part of this, she trains professionals, therapists, managers, practitioners, parents and carer-givers.

Phoebe is the author of several books and research papers and has produced a number of training films.


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