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Book Review: Freaks, Geeks and Asperger Syndrome - A User Guide to Adolescence

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating

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Book Review: Freaks, Geeks and Asperger Syndrome - A User Guide to Adolescence Cover image courtesy of Jessica Kingsley Publishers

The Bottom Line

By Luke Jackson; 275 pages. From the book cover: "To those of you who feel that you don't belong, always remember that different is cool!"

Temple Grandin and others have written eloquently about what it's like to grow up on the autism spectrum, but they've generally written from the perspective of a grown-up. Here's an account from a kid right in the thick of it, an adolescent with Asperger's who wants parents to know what it feels like, and other kids to know they're not the only ones who feel that way.

About the Guide Rating

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Pros

  • Charming kid's-eye view of Asperger Syndrome.
  • Explains things that can be puzzling to parents, like resistance to eye contact.
  • Includes sensory, learning, school, bullying, friendship and dating issues.
  • Mini-dictionary of idioms helpful for many kids with special needs.
  • Good reading for both parents and other Asperger's teens.

Cons

  • You can't always count on 13-year-olds for perspective.
  • More biographical information than many readers may be interested in.
  • Author is a believer in dietary interventions, so no information on medications or therapy.
  • In places, a lot like listening to your kid go on and on and on ...

Description

  • Chapter 1: An Introduction -- Me and My Family
  • Chapter 2: Asperger Syndrome and the Autistic Spectrum
    Chapter 3: To Tell or Not to Tell?
  • Chapter 4: Fascinations and Fixations
    Chapter 5: Sense and Sense Abilities
  • Chapter 6: A Different Physiology
    Chapter 7: A Word about Sleep
  • Chapter 8: Language and Learning
    Chapter 9: The Problem with School
  • Chapter 10: Bullying
    Chapter 11: Taekwondo
  • Chapter 12: Friendships and Socializing
  • Chapter 13: The Dating Game
  • Chapter 14: Morals and Principles -- Representation and Reality
  • Chapter 15: One Final and Positive Note

Guide Review - Book Review: Freaks, Geeks and Asperger Syndrome - A User Guide to Adolescence

"Adults seem to make a really big deal of getting people to look at them when they are talking. Apparently it is seen as rude if you don't look at least in the direction of the speaker. This world is full of so many stupid rules! I really hate this one."

Young Luke Jackson pulls no punches in his account of being a teen with Asperger's. He thinks gym teachers should stop torturing kids. He admits "I am not going to give out tips on how to make friends because I am not good at doing it myself." He complains, "Non-AS people say things they don't mean, miss out things that they do mean, do all sorts of strange things with their faces which apparently change the meaning of their words -- and they say AS people are odd!" The ways of the neurologically typical world are strange to him, but he's trying to understand, with all the patience a 13-year-old can muster.

Addressing, at various times, both parents and fellow AS teens, Jackson shares life experiences, lists strategies he's found useful, vents frustrations, puzzles over differences, cracks bad jokes, and makes frequent apologies for being boring. Reading his book is a lot like listening to your own kid ramble on and on and on about something that excites him, although at least it's your kid with a really good editor. If you've ever wanted to crawl into your child's mind and see what the world looks like from there, here's your opportunity. It's a little cluttered, but the view's good.

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