Monday, June 01, 2015

School Success for Kids with Asperger's Syndrome (Book Review #45 of 2015)


School Success for Kids With Asperger's Syndrome: A Practical Guide for Parents and Teachers
This book does a great job in providing a concise overview of Asperger's Syndrome (categorized separately from autism prior to DSM-V) for parents of school-aged children and educators who might have a child with AS in their classrooms. I give it five stars because it's the first book I would recommend to any parent whose child has just been diagnosed with high-functioning autism and wondering "What do I need to know? What do I do next? What do I need to plan for in about five years from now?" There are plenty of other works referenced in this book that the parent will find helpful for further reading.

I'm the parent of a 7-year old high-functioning autistic child with characteristics similar to Asperger's. (According to the book, he may actually fall into a category of NVLD that overlaps with Asperger's). We've now had a couple of years involved in the IEP process at a public school. This book nicely summarizes the laws regarding special accomodations for students, and relevant recent court decisions, to help the parent advocate. The authors give some examples of best practices found at (mostly private) schools around the country that have special programs for Asperger students.

The authors include a brief history of the diagnosis, some common myths and misconceptions regarding AS, and an overview of research regarding counseling and therapies found useful in Asperger cases. There is mostly presentation of facts and research with little opinion from the authors themselves, which I appreciated. There is even some general advice about the difficulties that parenting a special-needs child can have on marriages.

While the book is already dated (and pre-DSM V) it is still very useful. While we're satisfied with what our son's caregivers are providing for him, it helps to think ahead to a strategy for when he's going to need to keep a locker, deal more with bullying, etc. While career-readiness is addressed in the book, it is done so only briefly. Some colleges have systems set up to help autistic students choose career paths, make schedules, and obtain life skills. Temple Grandin's book The Autistic Mind, which I highly recommend, gives greater advice as to career-readiness that I felt the book was weak on. There is also a lack of looking at sensory processing disorders in this book, which is an area of research that Temple Grandin has found lacking.

The biggest weakness is guidance to parents who are seeking out public assistance as well as insurance reimbursement for services, which is available in many states. That is the biggest "practical" piece missing in the book, but would have required about twice the length.

In all, this book is a valuable addition to the library of any parent with an autistic child.

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