Autism

bookpileIn my post Book Club Day, I wrote about the autism/asperger related book club that I am part of. In that post and a follow-up post, I shared about the fiction selections we have read up to this point. I had promised to also list out the nonfiction selections, so here is that listing:


A Spot on the Wall by Martha Squaresky – This self-published memoir about raising a child with autism up to young adulthood is both entertaining and engaging. Because the author lives here in Central Pennsylvania, we were fortunate to be able to have her join us to share more of her story in person; it was a wonderful time of hearing not only about her life as a parent of someone on the autism spectrum, but also about the writing and publishing process that she has experienced.


Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism edited by Shannon Des Roches Rosa, Jennifer Byde Myers, Liz Ditz, Emily Willingham, and Carol Greenburg – This is a very practical book that I would highly recommend to anyone connected with or interested in the topic of autism. The variety of topics and contributors makes it even stronger, in my opinion, and it was well received by the group.


Songs of the Gorilla Nation: My Journey Through Autism by Dawn Prince-Hughes, PhD – We read this book as a follow up to Three Weeks in December, which was a fiction selection that incorporated gorillas into the storyline. In this memoir, Ms. Prince-Hughes gives us an inside look to her life as a person with autism spectrum disorder. It was fascinating to see how instinctively she connected with the gorillas, even more so than the neurotypical staff in many cases, and how passionately she explained the dilemmas facing these creatures in our world today.


22 Things a Woman Must Know If She Loves a Man with Asperger’s Syndrome by Rudy Simone – One of my favorite authors, Ms. Simone presents in this book a number of different topics that would be helpful for anyone in a relationship with a man who has Asperger’s Syndrome.

Some members of our group wished the author had gone into more detail on each one, while others felt they could relate to the book and got a lot out of it despite the shorter length. I would suggest that this book, and a similar title for men involved with a woman on the spectrum, are easily accessible by those who aren’t familiar with autism already and could be of great help to people who are in or are considering a relationship such as this.


Asperger’s From the Inside Out: A Supportive and Practical Guide for Anyone with Asperger’s Syndrome by Michael John Carley – This book was a combination of memoir and informational book, offering both the author’s story of finding out that he has Asperger’s Syndrome as well as his advice on handling a variety of practical issues and situations. I had read this book before and found that I enjoyed and appreciated it just as much the second time, especially being a person on the spectrum myself. Definitely worth the read!


How Can I Talk If My Lips Don’t Move?: Inside My Autistic Mind by Tito Rajarshi Mukhopadhyay – I have to admit that I did not read this one. My personal life has been quite hectic the last month, so I had to let something go undone, and this happened to be it. This was enthusiastically recommended by one of our members, however, and so I wanted to include it on the list anyway.

I will share more on the books we read and how our little group is going in the future (hopefully without so much time between updates in the future!).

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bookpileIn my post Book Club Day, I wrote about the autism/asperger related book club that I am part of. The book we had read that month (May 2014) was The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry.

I thought it would be a good idea to list the other books we have read so far in the club and decided to divide the list up into fiction and non-fiction selections. Here are the other fiction books we have read so far:


Stim by Kevin Berry – A fun first novel set in Australia about a young adult with Aspergers and his quest to establish himself in the world as well as find a good woman for him. Everyone enjoyed this selection – it was a great casual read.


Three Weeks in December by Audrey Schulman – Loved, loved this book. It has two alternating storylines, one set in the past and the other in the present day. The main character in the present day has Asperger’s and the other main character has his own challenges with the society and culture that he lives in. Both of them spend time in Africa and learn who they really are in the face of their experiences in that place. Fascinating and well-written, it will draw you into the worlds it portrays and change you in the process.


If I Could Tell You by Hannah Brown – This was a very fun read as it deals with a group of people that are all touched by autism and meet together to support each other in the process of dealing with that, and so it mirrored our little group in that way. I loved the variety of characters and the way each of them changed and developed over the course of the book. This was a great find for us!


The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon – This is a science fiction novel set in the future and is one of my favorite reads of all time. It was fascinating to me to discuss it with the group, as the different perspectives on some of the moral and ethical questions in the book really opened my eyes. I recommend this book all the time to people!


House Rules by Jodi Picoult – This was actually our first selection for the book club, although it got mixed reviews from the group. I personally felt that it was more of the same from an author that I used to really enjoy reading, and I was impatient at several points for the story to move forward and have some resolution.


The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd – This is a middle grade book that would appeal to a broad range of kids, I think. It was an enjoyable read that touched on a lot of issues surrounding growing up and dealing with the complicated lives so many kids have these days.


The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon – This one is practically a classic in the area of fiction that highlights Aspergers as part of the story. For many of us, this was a re-read, and one person highly recommended the audio version as well. Definitely worth the read, in my opinion.

Next, I will work on the list of non-fiction selections, as there were some really good ones in that group as well. I would also love to hear of other ideas you may have for any type of book that has some connection to the autism spectrum which might be good for a book club!

Edited 8/1/14 to add: The list of non-fiction selections has now been posted. Click on this link to see them.

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bookclubThe only thing better than reading a good book is getting the chance to talk about it with other people who love reading as much as I do, in my opinion. So today being the monthly meeting of the autism/Asperger book club I belong to made it a very good day. :)

Our group has been meeting for about a year and a half, and each of us has a close connection to the world of autism. Several have a child or children on the spectrum, others a grandchild or sibling, and for some, even a spouse. So far, I am the only regular member who is diagnosed on the spectrum herself.

We have read a mixture of fiction and non-fiction, all with some connection to the world of autism. This month’s selection was a novel called The Kitchen Daughter, written by Jael McHenry, in which the main character, Ginny, has Asperger’s Syndrome.

The book centers on how Ginny and her sister Amanda deal with the sudden death of both of their parents. Needless to say, they have very different ways of handling the situation and the emotions that arise throughout the process. At times, it’s unclear whether the grief will pull them together or push them apart for good.

One thing I personally liked a lot about the book was the connection Ginny has with Gert and her son David, as through these characters we see other examples of how different people and even different cultures handle grief, in ways that are sometimes more and sometimes less healthy than Ginny’s and Amanda’s own responses. The way cooking helps Ginny connect with those that had died, shown in the book through the conjuring of their ghosts by preparing recipes each had handwritten, is fascinating as well.

Despite being a first novel with a few rough spots and a slightly too-perfect ending, we all agreed that we enjoyed reading it and most even rated it more highly than a novel we read several months ago by a well-known author with a number of best-selling books to her name.

Every time we meet, I am glad to have taken the time to connect with this group of women. Their friendship and sharing has enriched my life, and the enjoyment I get out of it always makes it worth overcoming the anxiety that inevitably crops up as each meeting gets close.

Have you ever been (or are you) in a book club? What did you like, or not like, about it?

A Quest for Social Skills for Students with Autism or Asperger’s: Ready-to-use lessons with games, role-play activities, and more!
by JoEllen Cumpata and Susan Fell
Future Horizons, 2010

About the Book

Why start a social skills program?
The question is not why, but why not?

With inclusive education becoming the norm in schools nationwide, teachers often struggle to address students’ non-academic needs—but teachers need ready-to-use lessons that won’t interfere with their curriculum.

QUEST (Questioning, Understanding, and Exploring Social Skills and Pragmatic Language Together) is a social skills program created to help middle school students with ASD who struggle with pragmatic language and social skills.

Developed by a school social worker and speech language pathologist, the program uses an intensive, proactive approach to teaching social skills, combining written instruction with games, activities, and student interaction.

Six helpful units—School Survival Basics, Understanding and Managing Emotion, Communication Skills, Making Friends and Interacting with Peers, Personal Safety, Vocational Readiness—can be implemented either chronologically or on their own. Evidence-based research supports the methods used and students have a great time learning-by-doing, through role-play and real-world experience. Parents are kept in the loop with email updates and evaluations. Everyone wins with this program!

Best of all, the book includes a CD of printable worksheets, letters, forms, and more!

QUEST covers: Greetings, Paying Attention, Daily Hygiene, Asking for Help, Understanding Feelings, Getting Angry/Calming Down, Managing Stress, Starting a Conversation, Making and Keeping Friends, Gossip, Bullying, and Teasing, Resisting Peer Pressure, Dating, Internet and E-mail Safety, and many more!

My Thoughts:
I am extremely impressed with this book. The lessons seem perfectly suited to the upper elementary and older students, which is where my son is now. With his moving into fourth grade this year and to a school with a more established social skills program, he has actually begun receiving group instruction on a regular basis, through a combination of push-ins during group work in science and social studies to lunch bunches and other small group activities. I can see the lessons in this book tying in very easily with what the SLP is doing, as well as being age-appropriate for the kids.

The manual is divided into several topical sections:

  • The school survival section has many of the things we are trying to instill in my son right now, from paying attention and asking for help to organizing his workspace and using an assignment book. Plus there’s even a lesson on daily hygiene, which is quickly becoming more important at our house!
  • The sections on understanding emotions, communication skills, and making friends are all topics that he has been working on for years, but these lessons seem to provide a fresh approach to use within a structured classroom setting that also emphasized practical application of the skills.
  • The personal safety and vocational readiness skills seem most appropriate for middle school and high school, students, although some of the information is more and more needed by younger students as kids may still encounter bullying and gossip, as well as be socializing online at an earlier age than the previous generation.

The book also includes a CD with PDF files of all the necessary printables for the lessons, making it as easy as possible to prepare and implement the program. I am excited about being to share this with my son’s SLP and hope that she will find it to be as useful as I think it will be!

Discount Opportunity: If you order A QUEST for Social Skills directly from Future Horizons, you can use the code INTERRUPTED to receive 15% off and free shipping in the continental US.

Note: I received a review copy for free, but all opinions are my own. I am an affiliate of Future Horizons and receive a small amount of compensation for any sales made using the promotional code provided. You can use the code INTERRUPTED when ordering books or other materials – or even conference registrations – to receive 15% off plus free shipping in the continental US.

In-Sync Activity Cards

by Trish on November 23, 2012

in Autism, Resources, Therapies

In-Sync Activity Cards: 50 Simple, New Activities to Help Children Develop, Learn and Grow!
by Joye Newman, MA, and Carol Kranowitz, MA
Sensory World, 2012

About the Set
These two experienced authors have over seventy combined years of teaching experience and have learned the best ways to help children learn and grow using their motor development skills. Now parents can tap that experience and genius, using these handy cards to help their kids grow, learn, and develop to the best of their abilities!

Divided into beginner, intermediate, and advanced activities, each card tells you why and how the activity works, what you need for it, and ways to make it more challenging. It also tells you what to look for, to make sure your child is getting the most out of the activity.

My Thoughts:
I was very excited to get this set for review, especially since I have been so pleased with an earlier set from the same publisher, called Move-About Activity Cards (linked to my review). I have found them to be very useful with my son, and the school team really likes using them during his sensory breaks.

This set is much more detailed and seems like it would have a lot of different applications, from sensory and movement needs, to development of motor planning and imitation, as well as direction-following skills.

The cards have great illustrations and are color-coded by skill level, plus each one includes ideas for how to make it a bit harder, which makes it very easy to customize for individual abilities and interests. They also include clear instructions regarding what materials you need and what you have to do to set up the activity, which is extremely helpful when planning which ones are workable given your resources at that time.

For my own child, I could see these cards being useful for his sensory breaks or even to work on turn-taking (i.e. allowing someone else to be in charge) in a peer group without the competitive stressors involved in playing a game. Although he is 10 and starting the preteen phase of his development, I still believe he would be drawn to the novelty of the cards and the imaginative activities.

Discount Opportunity: If you order In-Sync Activity Cards directly from Future Horizons, you can use the code INTERRUPTED to receive 15% off and free shipping in the continental US.

Note: I received a review copy of this set for free, but all opinions are my own. I am an affiliate of Future Horizons and receive a small amount of compensation for any sales made using the promotional code provided. You can use the code INTERRUPTED when ordering books or other materials – or even conference registrations – to receive 15% off plus free shipping in the continental US.