Author: Lori Ernsperger, PhD and Danielle Wendel
Publisher: Autism Asperger Publishing Company (2007)
Even the cover of this book takes on a personal and inspiring touch. It features a beautiful painting done by 11-year-old Amanda LaMunyon, who falls under the autism spectrum. A poem and story by this talented young girl are also part of the book.
The first-hand, up-close-and-personal approach to the condition is what helps make the book special. The writing duo behind the project is Lori Ernsperger, a PhD and expert in autism and behavioral disorders, and Danielle Wendel, co-founder of The Asperger’s Syndrome High-Functioning Autism Support Group, and most importantly, mother of an 11-year-old girl named Mattie, who lives under the autism spectrum umbrella. The result is that there is all the research and fact-based material you could ask for, easily and helpfully explained, plus the hands-on, personal revelations of a mother who has “been there.”
The book gives a general overview of the spectrum including signs to look for in determining if your daughter has autism, Asperger’s, Pervasive Developmental Disabilities or any other condition that falls under the umbrella. It addresses the feeling of officially getting the diagnosis and dealing with it, coping with the early years, proper schooling, handling bullying, adolescence and early adulthood, dealing with temper tantrums, managing sleep issues, and how to approach the future (dating, marriage, and having a family).
Techniques for dealing with certain behaviors specific to those under the autism spectrum should prove very effective for parents or teachers. At all times, the emphasis is on what sets girls apart from boys in terms of the condition because sadly, until recently the medical community either saw autism and its related conditions as affecting more boys than girls, or not making a difference whether a boy or girl was affected by it. Girls therefore, were not treated or diagnosed based on any specific qualities or problems they presented.
While there is a good deal of clinical or professional information presented in the book, its most special quality is the way parents and girls or women who are actually living with an autism-related condition have come forward to share their most intimate thoughts and experiences. At times, it reads like a journal of personal recollections and secrets that are being shared for the first time.
The emphasis is definitely on those who function on a fairly high level in the “real” world, so those looking for help with the fairly small group of girls who do not speak, interact or live much of a full life may be slightly disappointed. Still, there is bound to be information here to satisfy most parents, teachers, and most importantly, those special girls who are “under the umbrella.”