Sunday, July 24, 2016

Book Review: Edward Adrift by Craig Lancaster

Edward Adrift

The Sequel to 600 Hours of Edward
by Craig Lancaster

A Review.

It's been almost seven years since I reviewed 600 Hours of Edward on this blog. It was one of the first books I reviewed here.

At the time, I said that I finished it and wanted more. Edward is a very likeable character and I always felt that a sequel was needed.

Imagine my surprise when out of the blue, Amazon's "recommended reading for you" page offered a sequel - and at a very reasonable price too.

I really wanted to go back and re-read the first book but unfortunately I simply don't have the time these days. I guess that means that you can pick up this book without having read the first one.

A Well-Rounded and Accomplished Sequel

Edward Adrift feels like a much accomplished book than its predecessor. It seems longer and more complete. It really feels like two stories but they're so expertly entwined that one naturally leads into the other.

Edward Adrift is a great book which is full of humour and emotion. It's part “road trip” and part self-discovery. It's not "action packed" and nearly everything in the book happens on an emotional level but if you like character driven books, it's great.

In a way, it feels a little like a male with Asperger's version of Bridget Jones.. minus the sex of course, remember it's an "aspie" male's point of view, Edward is really too awkward around people for that sort of thing.  

The main character of Edward is still as enjoyable as he was in the first book and he really shines as a person with Asperger's syndrome. He's a very well-rounded three dimensional character whose symptoms and traits meet the criteria without ever feeling forced.

It's a great book for anyone involved with Asperger's or special needs because it puts the reader into his thought processes.  Edward's obsession with the weather and specific television shows is still there but at the same time, you can see how these obsessions are changing as the world around him changes, and sets him adrift.

It's a great low-key story and like the first Edward, it would make great movie material with the right crew.

Edward Adrift is a highly recommended and very enjoyable read by Craig Lancaster and it is available on Amazon in a variety of formats; Kindle, Paperback, Audiable and CD.

As it turns out, there's a third chapter, Edward Unspooled which was just released. I've already bought it so there'll be a review of that soon. (As a consequence Books 1 and 2 are on special).


The three Edward books are available on Amazon;


Honesty Clause: I purchased Edward Adrift with absolutely no urging from anyone simply because I enjoyed the first book so much. 

Friday, July 15, 2016

Book Review: Developing Leisure Time Skills for People with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Developing Leisure Time Skills for People with Autism Spectrum  Disorders: Practical Strategies for Home, School and Community. (Revised and Expanded Second Edition) (Revised and Expanded Second By Phyllis Coyne, Mary Lou Klagge and Colleen Nyberg.

It's fairly common for very young children to be quite “clingy” and to be more or less incapable of dealing with spare time.

What you might not realise is that many older children and young adults experience difficulty with the concept of free time. Even older adults, who are verbally challenged and are on the autism spectrum experience these issues.

The problem is that since these people can't manage their free time without assistance, they will often "get into trouble" if left alone for more than five minutes.

As a result, the parents and caregivers of these people are often unable to take even short breaks for self hygiene without risk unless they arrange for substitute care.

The aim of this book is to help people with autism to develop their leisure time skills to effectively "keep themselves occupied".

The Aims of this Book

Developing Leisure Time Skills for People with Autism Spectrum  Disorders is essentially a textbook and it is primarily aimed at people working with several kids on the autism spectrum.

Parents of kids and young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) will certainly get value out of the book but teachers and occupational therapists will get far more value because many of the included forms and templates are designed for people managing groups and will make it easy to get to know new students and to begin communicating on leisure activities.

The authors are mainly concerned with less verbal and non-verbal individuals and indeed, most of the later sections, particularly those with social stories and cards deal with communicating with the less verbal members of the ASD community.

The book starts by introducing three differently aged people with autism. It goes on to discuss the sorts of leisure activities and sensations that they like and dislike. These three people are used as examples in various chapters throughout the rest of the book..

Layout and Activities 

This is a large sized book with big print and it's very easy to read and designed to be photocopied (for forms).  Some the interesting forms and examples match activities to sensory seeking behaviour, for example, a child who loves the sensation of having the wind in their face may enjoy an activity like bike riding.

There's about 112 pages of text, then just as many pages of appendices.  The appendices are very practical and contain many forms, glossaries of terms and activity cards.  The appendices also contain descriptions of games that can be played with associated activity stories.  There are activity stories and cards for real life leisure activities like bowling swimming, fishing, going to the park. These cover preparation, the activity itself and a review of the activity.

The Zoo - A Social Story

Activity cards (social stories) are included social outings, hobbies, and physical activities which range from calling friends to scrapbooking, basketball,  roller skating, and various art projects

You will finish this book with a good understanding of how to create activity cards for your own child or those under your care.

Where to get this Book

Developing Leisure Time Skills for People with Autism Spectrum  Disorders: Practical Strategies for Home, School and Community. (Revised and Expanded Second Edition) (Revised and Expanded Second By Phyllis Coyne, Mary Lou Klagge and Colleen Nyberg. is available in paperback from Future Horizons Inc and Amazon.


Honesty Clause
I was provided with a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes. 

Friday, July 8, 2016

Like Houses, Relationships need Constant Work

I've been reading and writing blogs on Asperger's syndrome since 2007.

Over the years many of the blogs I was following have closed down and disappeared. Others have experienced a decline in posts until finally they fall silent. 

Of course, I still have my feelers (RSS feed reader) out there and every now and then one of those blogs reactivates, though usually only for a lone post or two.

The Post

This happened earlier this week. The blog in question is from a neurotypical (normal) lady married to a man with Asperger's. The blog is mostly one-sided and often contains an angry rant.

The relationship doesn't seem to be a happy one and clearly the author is not getting the respect that she needs from the relationship.

To her credit, she has such high morals and is so devoted to her religion, that she won't leave, she simply struggles and endures (and complains).

Her recent post was about how, as soon as they stopped marriage counselling, things went right back to square one. It brought tears to my eyes. I’ve followed her blog for years and feels like having a friend in pain.


Partnerships and Houses

All marriages and indeed, all relationships (even those between parents and their children), need constant work.

The analogy is like a house. When it's new, it doesn't seem to need much work but as the years go on, it needs to be maintained or things will start to go wrong.

Counselling is like getting a cleaner in -- or if it's really expensive and prolonged counselling, it's like putting a new kitchen in.

Sure, it makes things look new again but it's only one part of the house and it's using the old plumbing.

Without continuous solid work, it will all go downhill again - and it's always a faster downhill ride that second time.

Weathering the Storms 

Back with our housing analogy, there's the question of the elements. The western side of the house that gets more sun may fade more quickly than the eastern side, though the eastern side may possibly be more subject to damp and wood rot.

The house may have weathered some fierce storms but they could have affected it in totally different ways. It could have blown the roof off on one side and cleared the scrub away from me Windows on the other.

There are always external factors impacting on relationships. These could be work, family, financial, medical or other issues.

Oddly enough, even though the same issues may hit the two parties in a relationship with the same force, our experiences and personalities greatly affect how it is perceived.

One example in my relationship was our exit from scouting. We exited over an adult bullying issue in which my wife was the victim.  I quit partially to show support for her and partially because I saw that the "people at the top" were keen to sweep bullying issues under the carpet. I couldn't be a part of that.

In my wife's eyes, this has soured that experience, and volunteering in general. For me however, I remember that time with great affection. I learned a lot from it, I met a lot of nice people, I had a lot of fun and most of all, I feel like I helped a lot of kids. I look at the bullies and the administration as simply "pests" -- and I refuse to allow them to sour the experience.

Asperger's is a “strange filter”

Everyone deals with impact in a different way, after all, we're all individuals.

Of course even taking individual behaviour into account, there are patterns. Two females will often react to a given impact in a way that is more similar than a male and a female.

Two people from a poorer economic background may deal with news of a retrenchment differently to a couple from a more diverse economic background.

Our “filters” help to shape the way we receive news - and the way we react.

It's difficult but not impossible to "put yourself in the shoes" of someone with a certain filter. We frequently find ourselves doing exactly this when we read books or write stories. We get inside our characters.

Sometimes it's easy, sometimes it's hard.

One thing that I have learned over the years though is that it's especially difficult for people with Asperger's syndrome to get into the character of a person without - and the same is true, probably even more difficult, in the opposite direction.

It's easy to see why couples who are a mix of neurotypical and Asperger's might face more struggles than most.

Communication 

The key is communication. Remember that people with Asperger's have difficulty reading emotions in neurotypical body language.They also have a tendency to express emotions differently to neurotypical people.

You have to constantly tell them, how you feel, why you feel that way and what you need from them. It works in the opposite direction too. You can't simply assume that because they're smiling, they're happy - you need to talk about it.

Keep talking positively and you're more than halfway to good relationship maintenance.