The Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome:
A parent’s complete source of information and
Advice on raising a child with Asperger’s
By Eileen Bailey and Robert W. Montgomery, PhD
Published by Penguin Group (USA), Inc., 2012
Reviewed by Linda M. Olsen, MEd
Asperger’s Syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder. “It is a developmental disorder characterized by unusual and intense preoccupation with a subject, impaired social and communication skills, and repetitive behaviors.” It is estimated that two out of every 10,000 children have AS. At this time, boys are diagnosed four times more often than girls. In 1944 Hans Asperger published the first definition of Asperger’s Syndrome.
I found the book to be a great guide in aiding in the diagnosis and supporting children with AS. Since AS is an autistic spectrum disorder, symptoms overlap and can blur the diagnosis as to whether the person has AS or Autism. The differences in language abilities and development, social skills and communication are all compared. The author reports there is some overlap of symptoms. For example, communication and social problems are exhibited in both. Cognitive problems normally do not occur in children with AS, but they do in a large percentage of children with autism. A variety of conditions can exist with Asperger’s. For example, anxiety disorders such as obsessive compulsive disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and depression. Also, difficulties with written expressions can be characterized by time motor control, disorganized material, and rigid thinking. Being passionate about a personal interest such as music, numbers, vehicles or other things is common and can cause difficulty with social interactions due to an inability to read nonverbal and social cues such as body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice. Finally, hypersensitivity in all senses -- auditory, smell, taste, visual and touch – is common.
As far as treatment is concerned, for those children diagnosed with Asperger’s there is not “one” answer. The author advises parents to work with a “TEAM” and to create the right package of treatments for their particular child. Some “TEAM” members suggested are your family doctor, a psychologist, a developmental pediatrician, a neurologist, an occupational therapist, a speech and language pathologist, a social worker, a psychiatrist, and a nutritionist. Members of your “TEAM” should communicate with each other and you in a positive, helpful manner.
Various chapters of the book focus on Asperger’s in girls, obsessions, sensory sensitivity, social competence, special interest, how behaviors change with age and family relationships and more.
Presently, in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) IV, Asperger’s along with Childhood Disintegrative Disorder and Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified and Rett Syndrome are all listed separately. But, there is a proposal (passed since this review was written) that would change this to include all under Autism Spectrum Disorder. Proponents of this change “believe this will result in children receiving better overall medical care, with doctors taking all related conditions into account and treating the entire patient rather than treating a single disorder”. However, those against the proposed changes are concerned friends, school personnel, and potential employers would look at the truly non-autistic person as more disabled than they truly are.
Inside Asperger’s Looking Out
By Kathy Hoopmann
Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2013
Reviewed by Linda M. Olsen, MEd
I found this book in the Children’s Book Section of Barnes and Noble Book Store in Framingham. The clear text describes the strengths and areas of need of someone with Asperger’s. The text is accompanied by the charming and colorful photographs of animals.
Some areas of need described by the author are; difficulties relating to others in social situations, difficulties understanding nonverbal communication, heightened sensitivity to touch, sight, hearing, taste and smell, set routines, and a strong preference for order. Some of the areas of strength described are; an intense ability to focus in specific areas of interest such as math, music or other, great loyalty towards others, and a unique mind which is able to see life from a new perspective.
Inside Asperger’s Looking Out is a great book to share with siblings, friends, classmates, teachers and others who have contact with children or adults with Asperger’s Syndrome. It is available in the office of the Autism Alliance for your perusal.