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Book Review: Quirky, Yes – Hopeless, No

2011 November 25
by Kent


“He has Augsburger’s Syndrome,” his mother told me.

Okay, she didn’t really say that, but that’s what I heard. Being a former Lutheran and having never heard of Asperger’s syndrome it sounded like Augsburger, as in Augsburg Confession. To be honest, I thought she was making it up.

Her son, Andrew (not his real name), was in my Kid’s Club class. Andrew was noticeably brilliant. Even at 6 years old he could have taught the lessons, often filling in the details for the teacher; and at times difficult. We were often at our wits’ ends trying to figure out what to do about some of the behavior, and we were rather clueless because his mom hadn’t mentioned Asperger’s until the school year was almost over.

After some Internet searches, I found out it wasn’t a Lutheran condition called Ausburger’s that Andrew had, but a PPD (pervasive development disorder) on the Autism Spectrum called Asperger’s Syndrome.

Here on the World Wide Web I discovered everything I had done was wrong for this child! I was able to do a quick inventory: Yep, did that wrong… did this wrong… he wouldn’t have understood that… he wasn’t being defiant when he refused to look at us… time outs were actually rewards… and on.

If I’d read Quirky, Yes Hopeless, No: Practical Tips to Help your Child with Asperger’s Syndrome Be More Socially Accepted by Cynthia La Brie Norall, PhD (written with Beth Wagner Brust) beforehand, it would have saved me a lot of trouble and made me a better help to Andrew.

This well written book’s user-friendly organization is in three parts:

Part One: Asperger’s Syndrome and Your Child is the best 20 pages one can read on the subject, beginning with frequently asked questions and straight forward answers.

The authors include some practical tips along with the characteristics of the condition.

For example, Aspies tend to be so interested in a particular subject in which they are often gifted, they will talk about it incessantly whether their hearers are interested or not. Because they don’t read social clues well, such as facial expressions and other body language, they simply don’t realize the other person is being bored to tears.

Dr. Norall’s suggestion of holding up a small box and saying that you’re putting that subject in the box and locking it up, so there is no more talking about it, appeals to the concrete thinking that is characteristic of Aspies. Note that this is an actual, physical box; figurative and imaginary are two things that won’t work here.

Part Two: 85 Lessons for Decoding Asperger’s Children is the heart of the book and guides the reader through every conceivable topic. Organized in alphabetical order; a guide at the top of the page for each topic ties-in related subjects.

For example, at the top of the page where the topic “Literal Language” begins, the reader is prompted to also see: Humor, Listening to Others, Perspectives and Point of View, Slang and Idioms, Talking with Peers, and Teasing.

I found using the top of the page as my reading guide and checking off each topic as I read was the best approach.

Part Three: Resources is just that. Reading suggestions, Internet sites, games, a sample e-mail from a parent to their child’s teacher during the first week of school.

In addition to the subject of Bullies being covered in the Part 2, the authors include an entire chapter in this section entitled “Further Information about Bullying” filled with practical advice and real strategies for the child to use in dealing with bullies. Though geared specifically for Aspies, anyone can benefit from these.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. This is must reading for parents of Aspies who want to help their child; as well as anyone involved in fostering or volunteer work for these kids.

If God gives me another chance with someone like Andrew I’m a lot more prepared to serve that child now that I’ve read Dr. Norall’s book.

Some people in history thought to be Aspies: Albert Einstein, Sir Isaac Newton, Thomas Jefferson, Hans Christian Andersen, H.G. Wells, Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Charles Darwin, Thomas Edison and Vincent Van Gogh.


Dr. Norall’s website

Photo: “Turning Pages” by Mattox

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