Friday, January 23, 2009

Book Review: Asperger’s and Girls

Asperger’s and autism are diagnosed much more frequently in boys than girls. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t many girls and women dealing with autism and Asperger's. The book Asperger’s and Girls (2006, Future Horizons) addresses the female part of the spectrum.
The book is compiled of chapters written by different individuals on different topics, such as education, puberty, dating, marriage and relationships. All the authors are either well known experts, such as Tony Attwood or Temple Grandin, lesser known authors, or individuals with their own or family connections to the autism spectrum. Although the quality of the writing varies, the tone of the book is positive and much of the material is useful.
For this review, I want to focus on one chapter, "Girl to Girl: Advice on Friendship, Bullying, and Fitting In", written by Lisa Iland. At the time of publication, Iland was a college student who’d gotten interested in this topic because of her interactions with her brother, who is on the autistic spectrum. In this rapidly changing world, it can be tough for parents to really understand what high school is like, so a younger person’s insights can be especially useful. Although the chapter is aimed at teenage girls, much of it can be useful for boys as well.
Iland covers ideas such as personal style, social hierarchies, and levels of friendships. Although it’s already getting out of date, there’s information on popular social conversation topics, like TV shows and music. (Lots of girls on the spectrum may avoid pop culture, often to their parents relief. Still, it’s hard to join in the conversation if you haven’t read the book or seen the movie that everyone’s talking about. I think it more effective when parents read the book or see the movie also, then have a conversation with their daughter about their concerns.)
The chapter includes lots of examples and step-by-step instructions on starting a conversation, making new friends, and dealing with bullies. Why don’t you check it out and see if it might be helpful for your child?