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Showing posts from 2016

Book Review: Social Engagement and the Steps to Being Social by Kathleen Taylor and Marci Laurel

Social Engagement & the Steps to Being Social: A Practical Guide for Teaching Social Skills to Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder by Kathleen Mo Taylor, OTR/L and Marci Laurel, MA CCC

I was quite looking forward to reading this book, assuming from the title that it would be a handbook. As it turns out, it's a textbook which means that it targets a very different audience.

As a textbook, the material is not aimed at parents and aides but rather, at academia. It's a well written book which covers a lot of ground in terms of establishing and improving social contact between people on the autism spectrum and others.

The early chapters cover topics including the getting and retention of attention. There are also some exercises which are designed to increase attention span.

The four sections of social learning are;

Self RegulationShared SpaceShared FocusShared Pleasure
These categories contain many sub-categories which move your child from noticing that they're someone…

Book Review: Stressed Out! For Parents: How to Be Calm, Confident & Focused by Dr Ben Bernstein

Stressed Out! For Parents: How to Be Calm, Confident & Focused by Dr Ben Bernstein with Michelle Packard, author of Family Ever After. 

Stressed out is a bit different to the books that I normally review on Life with Aspergers, particularly because it has no direct connection to autism.

Nevertheless, stress is something that most parents are very familiar with, particularly parents with children on the spectrum. Stress is also something that people with Autism, Aspergers or Anxiety experience a great deal.

Throughout the book, it sets up scenes of parental stress ranging from bad behaviour to unmet expectations and full-on family disputes. In those early chapters, I kept expecting the information on calming down to be followed by alternate and workable solutions.

There are no solutions to parenting problems in this book. It's simply “not that kind of book”.

This book aims to make you a better parent but not because of solutions to specific problems. Like the serenity prayer, thi…

Book Review: My Wonderful Fran: The Biography of an Amazing Girl by Paul Spelzini

My Wonderful Fran: The Biography of an Amazing Girl by Paul Spelzini
My Wonderful Fran is a touching memoir of a very talented girl by her father.
It covers her life in a very natural and straightforward way, covering her likes and dislikes, family relationships, holidays, school and sports.
While the word Aspergers is used a lot in the book, it's really much more a study of how schizophrenia can quietly enter the lives of families and how powerless we can be without appropriate support networks.
If you're the parent of a child with schizophrenia or chronic depression or if your child has been behaving suspiciously with possible intentions of suicide, then you need to read this book.
Ultimately, My Wonderful Fran is about how even the brightest and most gifted of us, with the best of families, can stumble in difficult circumstances.
My Wonderful Fran; The Biography of an Amazing Girl by Paul Spelzini is available in hardback, paperback and kindle formats from Amazon,
Honesty Clause:…

Trump, Depression and Looking After your own

So, it's happened. Donald Trump is now the President of the United States. There's been a media frenzy and amongst it all, barely even acknowledged, a wave of suicides.

So, whose fault is it? Trump's? ours? The media? The victims? More importantly, what can we do to protect our own?

The Trump presidency is a macrocosm of the microcosm I currently find myself in. Yeah, it's all about me…. it's a similar microcosm to what many people, particularly those with differences, find themselves in every day.

...and the answers are just as simple, and elusive.
It's not the end, we're still here! Despite all his pre-election rants, no president has the authority to take away basic human rights. They can't launch nuclear weapons simply because they don't like somebody and they're not going to wander through homes deporting or imprisoning people simply because of where they were born or what their sexual preference is.

To suggest otherwise is “fear-mongering” a…

Book Review: Color my Senses: The Sensory Detective Coloring Book by Paula Aquilla BSc, OT, DOMP

Color my Senses: The Sensory Detective Coloring Book by Paula Aquilla BSc, OT, DOMP is a colouring book with a difference. It goes into detail on the human sensory system and covers not only the five “major” senses of taste, touch, smell, sight and hearing but also three less discussed senses; 


Proprioception; knowledge of where your body is in relation to the world.


Interoception; knowing how you feel inside (eg: stomach grumbling)


Vestibular; balance and movement 

As a frequent reader of books about autism, I'm very much aware of these other senses but I think that this is the first time I've found all three in a book aimed at children.

For me, that makes this the most accurate (perhaps the only accurate) kid's book on the sensory system today.

Having introduced all of the senses, the book uses a “crossing the road” example to show how the various senses work together. It's a very effective example.

At times, the level of detail is astonishing for a kid's book and th…

Book Review: Edward Unspooled by Craig Lancaster

Edward Unspooled is Craig Lancaster's latest "Edward Stanton" novel.  It follows on from the events of 600 hours of Edward, reviewed here and Edward Adrift, reviewed here.  It's funny because I really wanted more after 600 hours but felt closure after Edward Adrift. I didn't think there was much left to write about. How wrong I was. Edward Unspooled is easily the best of the three. 

Edward Unspooled is one of the most enjoyable books I've ever read - and for that reason, I read it very, very slowly trying to enjoy every nuance of it. I've only finished it now because I've gotten a backlog of other books to review.

You don't have to have read the other Edward books before reading this one but I think it probably helps. This time, the pacing is a lot tighter. Craig has dispensed with the weather reports and added a female voice to the mix. It makes things far more dynamic and personal.

One of the things that I'm always talking about on this blog…

Creating Job Opportunities for Your Kids with Special Needs

I've posted a few times over the years on the difficulty of finding appropriate jobs for kids with Asperger’s Syndrome and other special needs.

There's the need to find a job that matches their special interests but also doesn't involve a lot of confrontational personal contact.

You need to find a boss that is understanding of your child's differences and who knows when to push and when to relax the rules… and of course, you need to get your young adult past the interview stage.

Sometimes it's just “all too much”, sometimes you need to create that employment environment yourself.

Picking the right career  There are two major factors influencing the choice of career;


Special interests Long term availability 
Special InterestsYour young adult with Aspergers will thrive in an environment that is tied to their special interests but not all interests are career-worthy.

If your young adult has an interest in cars, woodwork, animals or computers, the career opportunities ar…

If you love someone who might have Asperger's syndrome, should you tell them?

Over the years, I've been asked this question many, many times. It is a really tricky question because you never quite know how someone is going to take the news. 

The problem occurs when a neurotypical person has a partner who displays many of the signs of Asperger's syndrome but doesn't know that they have it. In this case, the relationship can quickly become very strained. A person with Asperger's syndrome needs to know that their responses are different to a person without Asperger's syndrome.  They need to know that their emotional needs are quite different from those of their partner, more different for example, than simply the differences between men and women.

Unfortunately telling someone that they have a "mental condition" never goes down very well.

Should you tell them? If you feel that your partner would be open-minded and willing to work on adjusting to your needs - and if you're willing to adjust to theirs, then it's worthwhile telli…

How to help your stay-at-home adult with Asperger's syndrome to change their behaviour and get more out of life.

So, you've got a twenty-something year old with Asperger's syndrome and they're more or less, living on the couch, or on the computer or games console.

Over my last couple of posts, I've covered some of the reasons why adults with Asperger's syndrome choose to stay at home rather than enter the workforce. I've also covered some of the skills which need to be taught and practised before they're ready for work.

In this post, I want to cover the act of "taking flight"... but first, I just want to go over a couple of points;

Education & Work Together can become “Overload” If your young adult (YA) is engaged in tertiary study, for example at a University or College, you probably can't expect them to hold down a job as well. Remember that people with Asperger's usually need time away from others, particularly after a very "social" day.

It's not impossible but I'd advise against it, especially in the first year. Working full-…

Enabling Your Teenagers to be More Independent (Stay-at-home Adults Part 2)

Last time, I looked at adults with Asperger’s syndrome who had trouble leaving the house, and who were more often than not, video-game addicted.  In particular, I looked at the possible reasons that they could have for such behaviour.

The aim of this series of posts is not to force people with Asperger’s syndrome into jobs but to enable them to live a more rewarding and fulfilling life. At best, this means becoming financially independent but in some cases, simply feeling “brave enough” to leave the house on their own is a big accomplishment.

Taking a step back from my last post,  this time I want to look at some of the ways we can prepare our kids for adulthood in modern society.


Horror Stories of Our Generation Every generation wants to ensure that their children grow up with less hardship than they did. When I was a child, my parents took great delight in telling me about the things they had to do as children. I was horrified to learn that things that I took for granted, like hot ba…

Stay-At-Home Adults with Asperger's Syndrome - Part 1 Are there Any Reasons?

It's becoming an increasingly common story, a capable 20+ year old with Asperger's syndrome, living at home with their parents, unwilling to leave the comfort of the house - or their gaming console.

There's a lot to discuss in this scenario but I want to break it down into three posts.


Reasons for the BehaviourPreventing the Behaviour Changing the Behaviour

In this post, I want to touch on whether or not there are valid excuses for this behaviour.

Excuse or No Excuse? For the most part, there aren't too many good excuses for this kind of behaviour in a young adult with reasonable communication skills.  Asperger's syndrome itself is not an excuse.

That said, there are actually, some good excuses for this kind of behaviour;

Lower Functioning Individuals;  I specifically mentioned “capable” earlier as a means of “filtering out” individuals who have difficulties which are significant enough to make them a danger to themselves or others, or who for intellectual or executi…

Book Review: Edward Adrift by Craig Lancaster

Edward AdriftThe 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…

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 a…

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…

Book Review: The Littlest Inventor by Mandi C Mathis (Illustrated by Danielle Ragogna)

The Littlest Inventor by Mandi C Mathis (Illustrated by Danielle Ragogna)

The Littlest Inventor is a children's picture book which tells a story about adjusting to sensory difficulties with some very sensible "inventions".

These days, I'm finding myself reading a lot of really thick textbooks on the subject of autism and sensory processing disorder.  As a children's book with limited text and some gorgeous illustrations, this was an absolute breeze to read. 

I really enjoyed it.

At around 30 pages with one or two lines of rhyming text every couple of pages, it's the perfect size for a bedtime story or to read in the classroom.

The story is about a boy who goes shopping with his parents and experiences a sensory overload.

(Mild spoilers follow)

The senses covered include sight, flickering lights, sounds in the form of chatter and smell. The ordeal in the shopping centre leads to a meltdown.

When the boy gets home after the experience, he heads up to his bedroom t…

Book Review: Self Reg: How to Help your Child (and you) Break the Stress Cycle and Successfully Engage with Life by Stuart Shanker

Self Reg: How to Help your Child  (and you) Break the Stress Cycle and Successfully Engage with Life by Stuart Shanker

Self reg is more of a textbook aimed at professionals than a book aimed at parents. It contains a lot of general theories and a whole lot more specific real-life examples but it doesn't have step by step problem solving procedures. It acknowledges that all problems are different and it’s trying to teach parents and professionals to “problem solve” using the Self Reg framework.

The book starts off with some theory exploring the various systems at work in a growing person’ body. 

There's a lot of detail on various social experiments, marshmallow theory and various experiments aimed at exploring the relationship between parent-child interaction. It's all quite fascinating and there’s more than a few “ah-ha” moments as Stuart points out the flaws in these experiments.

From here, the book talks about change but what makes it radically different from most books is…

Why do People with Asperger's Syndrome find it so difficult to Say "I Love You"

It's not uncommon for people, males in particular, to have major difficulties with the words “I love you” but in neurotypical (normal) males, this tends to be related to a commitment issue rather than a problem with the concept of love. 

People on the autism spectrum, particularly those with Asperger’s syndrome have rather different problems with the words both in terms of honesty and understanding.

Honesty People with Asperger's are often meticulously honest. That's to say that they go out of their way to be honest about things, even when honesty really isn't the best policy.

It's not that people with Asperger's cannot lie but simply that many, not all, feel very uncomfortable about lying.

If you ask a neurotypical person if they love you, you’ll generally get a “yes” response (if they're going to give you one), immediately - even if they don't actually "love you".

This is because a neurotypical person is fairly comfortable with the concept of …

Where have all the Jobs Gone?

The world of employment today seems to be obsessed with university degrees.When I was starting out it was okay to just have one but today, employers are expecting two or three.

There are a few problems with this approach;

The World of Paper Qualifications  First of all, degrees (and indeed all forms of tertiary education) are now very expensive. They were government sponsored in the recent past but now it seems to have gone back to the idea that only rich people can have degrees. Even then, it seems that most people have to take out loans for their education, meaning that they have to spend years paying them off when they really need to be saving for a home.

Secondly, degrees, particularly multiple degrees, take years to complete. That means years spent in academia learning what usually amounts to outdated concepts instead of getting useful experience in the real world.

Finally, there just aren't the jobs for degree-holders today. Employers are requesting degrees but they're q…

Dealing with Sensitivities and Triggers when the Whole Family has Autism Spectrum Disorders

These days, Autism Spectrum Disorders aren't uncommon.  In fact, it’s pretty clear that there's a strong genetic link. 

People with ASDs Collect Together  If you have autism in one form or another (or if you have a sibling on the autism spectrum), there's a better than average chance that you will have at least one child on the spectrum.

It's not vaccines, it's not head trauma or defective parenting. It's genetics, pure and simple. The apple really doesn't fall too far from the tree.

What's less well documented is that people with autism seem to prefer the company of others on the spectrum. In fact, it seems that we have an arguably better sense for detecting individuals like ourselves in social situations than regular people.

The odds of a person on the autism spectrum partnering with another person on the autism spectrum seem to be higher than most.

The upshot of this is that there are many families out there which contain more than one person on the au…