By Patricia Romanowski Bashe and Barbara L. Kirby Crown Publishers, 2001 Review by Monique Thornton, MSW on Jan 24th 2003
Asperger Syndrome (AS) is a pervasive developmental
disorder characterized by deficits in social interactions, communication and
imaginary play skills.Children with
AS usually have normal to above average intelligence.They exhibit a variety of characteristics that include problems
with sensory integration, obsessive thinking, and an area of intense special
This book grew out of the experiences the authors(both parents of children with AS) had with
the website OASIS. OASIS stands for Online Asperger Syndrome Information and
Support.Barbara Kirby founded the
award winning OASIS website in 1994.Patricia Romanowski-Bashe is the co-owner of the website.The authors describe their website as parent
centered/parent empowered, as is the book.They share their experiences and knowledge they have gathered from other
parents and professionals.
Tony Atwood, who is a leading authority in the area AS,
writes the forward.The book is divided
into three parts.Part one explores the
basics of Asperger Syndrome including, what AS looks like, how it is diagnosed,
and what the symptoms/ characteristics are.Included is a substantial section on co-morbid conditions that
complicate Asperger Syndrome such as OCD, ADHD, Bipolar disorder, etc.
Part 2 is called "Taking Control" and focuses on
helping one get the tools one needs to make a positive impact on the life of a
child with AS.It includes chapters on
building a foundation for success, options and interventions, medication and
special education basics. The comprehensive chapter on Special Education Basics
was very informative.The authors state
entering the Special Education process is like joining a long, complex board
game already in progress that most of the other players have played a hundred
times.This is something that I have
found to be very true.
On page 125 there is a section of comments by OASIS
members.The authors asked the
question, If you were to sit across from a parent who had just learned that his
or her child has AS, what would you want to tell them?The resulting comments, suggestions and
support are inspirational.
Part 3 looks at the Whole Child.This section includes chapters that explore your child's emotional
life and social realm.Chapter 11
focuses on your child in school.The
authors describe this chapter in part by stating, the strengths and weaknesses
of many children with AS seem to converge most glaringly at school if asked to
design an environment specifically geared to stress a person with AS, you would
probably come up with something that looked a lot like a school.The authors discuss the potential positives
of school such as learning flexibility, social skills and independence and some
negative aspects such as sensory overload.
Also included is a sample letter to give to your child's
teacher.This letter can be downloaded
from the OASIS website so that the parent can tailor the letter to their
child.I used the letter to guide me in
writing a letter to my child's teacher.I also gave the letter to his Occupational Therapist and the schools
Autism Consultant to help them better know and understand my child.
On p. 426 the authors emphasize, Our job as parents is not
to change our children into who we would like them to be but rather help guide
them to be the best they can be.This
statement is important for parents of children with Asperger Syndrome to
remember, as it gets to the heart of really valuing our children for who they
are and not grieving for the child we thought we would have.He or she is a whole person with strengths
and weaknesses like the rest of us and he or she happens to have AS.Along the same line is the epilogue which
includes 53 ways to make the world a better place for persons with AS.These include some creative suggestions that
I would have never thought of on my own.
Parents of children with Asperger Syndrome who are looking
for help often encounter many sources of information on how to deal with
specific areas of concern, but I know of no other book that brings all of the
information together in such a comprehensive, readable, resource guide.The guide follows the child from pre-diagnosis
to the teenage years.
Romanowski Bashe and Kirby have rigorously researched the
area and have relied heavily on the professional literature to provide weight
to their observations, statements and suggestions. They provide not only
sentiments from their personal journeys with Asperger Syndrome but also provide
clear, concise information in the form of a reference book.
The authors provide clarity and depth while at the same
time retaining readability, as most readers wont find themselves overwhelmed
with diagnoses, professional jargon, etc.They consistently provide appropriate explanations of terminology.
The authors are very encouraging of parents.They acknowledge that after a diagnosis,
most parents worry about how much time they have lost and what they have done
wrong to cause their child to be different.They reassure parents that all you can control is what you choose to do
today and in the future to be the best parent for your child.The majority of the book is spent on general
treatment and coping strategies for parents and professionals after a child is
This book provides support to parents on their journey to
raise a child who has AS.The book
supports parents not only by providing them with the most up to date
information, but also by setting a tone that lets parents know that they are
not alone in their successes and failures with their child.They effectively address how the whole
family is affected when a child has a disability and how positive family
relationships play an active role in successful coping.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has interest
in AS.The authors don't make any
assumptions that they know everything.They present the information with a disclaimer about how every
situation, child and family is different and what works for one may not work
guide will address almost any issue that parents and professionals will
confront, from diagnosis to treatment options.It has many useful side boxes that encompass ideas, suggestions, sub
topics, recommended reading etc.It
contains countless coping strategies, concrete suggestions and techniques for
parents and children. The book is organized in a logical manner and contains
headings and subheadings that allow the reader to peruse it easily. This book
is destined to become a classic, invaluable reference guide for any parent or
professional interested in Asperger Syndrome.