Reading Through Asperger’s: Part II

Part I of Reading Through Asperger’s covered my main resources before his diagnosis.  Receiving a formal diagnosis of an autistic spectrum disorder didn’t change my son or I one bit, but it did give me permission to acquire more books.

Fast forward to November 2010.  The psychologist who IQ tested him at six and saw him a half-dozen times for anxiety in Fall 2010, looked me in the eye during a session with my son and I and said, “His mirror neurons don’t work.”  I’m sure my relief was palpable as I nodded and grinned.  Finally, we had a diagnosis.  A day later, I was back to the bookstore.  This time, my find was a picture book by Kathy Hoopmann:  All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome.  The day I told him of his diagnosis (which he found as a huge relief), I shared the book with him.  He demanded a second reading, “to find all the parts that are like me.”  He then declared it his favorite book (previously held by the Lord of the Rings trilogy) and read it to any family and friends who stopped by.  For my feline-crazy Asperger’s child, this book started a dialogue about his way of thinking that continues daily.  Thank you, Kathy Hoopmann.

Our next read together was by Kenneth Hall:  Aspergers Syndrome, the Universe and Everything.  Written by a gifted homeschooling 10-year-old, I’d hoped this book would resonate with my guy.  I certainly found similarities between my son and the young author.  My son, however, in true it’s-hard-to-generalize fashion, focused on the ways he wasn’t like Kenneth.  He admitted to similar issues with authority and perfection, but, according to my son, so many details were different — the author liked to spend time along in his room and loved math, and my son was afraid to be upstairs alone and really didn’t care for math.  But generalizing from specifics never was his strength, a commonality among those on the autistic spectrum, so I hold no fault with the book on this count.  While I found it interesting to hear about Asperger’s Syndrome from the point of view of a child of similar age as my own, the book was a bit tedious to read, bearing an uncanny resemblance to talking with my AS son.  Go figure.

The most recent addition to our ASD library is another do-together workbook for children with high functioning autism or Asperger’s: Asperger’s…What does it Mean to Me? by Catherine Faherty.  Despite fine reviews, I was dubious that the large-print children’s section written largely in the first person would appeal to my son, but he took to the format immediately.  With no distracting illustrations, straight-forward yet not babyish language, and an uncannily realistic view of the “operating system” of the person with autism, this book became a favorite.  We’re opening the book a few days a week, looking back on the pages he previously liked and working together on a few new pages.  Broken into twelve chapters, this workbook is both descriptive and prescriptive with plenty of room for readers to add their own notes about their experiences with autism.  The book broadening understanding about self and others.  I’m delighted to learn about my child’s view of the world via our exploration of this workbook.  Until the sensory section, I didn’t know how much looking at rotating objects, patterns, and lights pleased him.  Caught in the many smells, textures, and sounds he avoided, I missed what he liked.  At the end of each child section is a chapter for adults (in somewhat smaller print) which expands on some of the workbook section ideas and offers concrete suggestions for caregivers.

Any list of my favorite autism spectrum disorder readings would be incomplete with my favorite web haunts.  Sites by autism authors and researchers and blogs by parents of children on the spectrum are innumerable and constantly changing.  Here are a few of my favorites:

  • The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism:  Published posts aimed at dispelling myths and promoting scientific finds on autism.  While many of the posts deal with kids on the other end of the spectrum, this is a reliable, intelligent guide to the world of autism for parents of kids of all levels of functioning.
  • Autism Science Foundation:  A group dedicated to moving autism science forward and compiling information about the efficacy of various treatments for kids on the spectrums.
  • OASIS@MAAP:  The Online Asperger Information and Support home contains a host of articles on Asperger’s.  Forum access is restricted to supporting members (yeah, that part costs money) and, in my opinion after a month trial, isn’t worth it given the host of free listserves for ASD families and folks.
  • Hoagies’ Gifted: Among more gifted kid info in one place than anywhere else, this amazing website keeps up a special needs section on ASD resources. Once again, hurray to Carolyn K.

Our shelves are filled with books of all genres, from ancient history to mystery, from fun with math to how to use a lathe. Our computer bookmarks include links about Star Wars Miniatures, Lord of the Rings, knitting patterns, and weather sites. Both shelves and computer bookmarks include a growing number of resources about autism spectrum disorder.  And with that growth and continued observation of my child, I’m learning how to help him gain some comfort in his own skin and in this world.

Please share any favorite links or books on ASD that you’ve found useful.

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