Praise from a reader— An insight into how ‘The Asperkid’s Launch Pad’ changed one mother’s life

Rebecca in England shares how reading The Asperkid’s Launch Pad by Jennifer Cook O’Toole changed the way she thinks about autism:

Just dropping by to say that I got hold of The Asperkid’s Launch Pad yesterday, read the first couple of chapters and felt my life changing.

I have an 11 year old Asperboy who has just started college here in the UK. He is doing an amazing job. An absolutely amazing job. But he is finding the change really very difficult and of course, he is under scrutiny by all those older kids who seem so together and adult, as indeed many of them are. I guess it feels kind of like you are a tiny boat and you are trying, everyday, to negotiate the Bristol Shipping Channel; one of the busiest waters in the UK, if not the world. I think that’s what college must feel like to him.

Last week he had a big anxiety outburst and shouted at himself that he was a ‘stupid baby.’ It was the first time it had all come out like that, in those words. I held him and talked to him and made him an icy drink (your tip—thank you xx) and we spoke about demons and how they can grow inside your head. We talked about how they get put there and how they love to be fed with all the evidence they can find to back up their idea about you … which is not the truth. We spoke about how they lie and twist things and hang on to all the bad stuff and discount the good stuff so they can get bigger. My son said he had had his demon for years and that was what it said to him and it made him not like himself.

We both cried a lot at what demons can do. I told him his demon was wrong and I told him about my bad demon and he said my demon had it wrong too. We had a lot of hugs. We wrote down what those demons said, along with our other worries, and put the words in a box, on the shelf, in a cupboard (again—your tip from your video—thank you xxx) and left them there until we want to talk about them again. He calmed down instantly after doing this exercise. It really helped him. Thank you.

Anyway, yesterday, whilst reading The Asperkid’s Launch Pad I realized that I have been feeding my son’s demon. It makes me cry to say it but I can see it’s true. Not in the things I say but in the fact that I do so much for him, hover over him, jump in and help when he struggles. I guess I want his life to be as easy as possible and I know it is very far from that so I do all I can to help. Yesterday I saw that for what it was—that although my intentions were good and true, the effect of my actions was actually harming my son by not allowing him to grow, learn and take responsibility for things. I realized I have been doing too much for him, taking over when he struggles, doing tasks that he is actually really capable of doing if he was shown how and got support to do them.

I saw this, cried, took a deep breath and said ‘I can fix this!’ Again— your words—so simple but so good to say. I went downstairs and got to work. I cleared the surfaces in the kitchen so there would be space for him to help me cook. I made a dead space that just had an old box of bills in it into a space for him to have his college things. I made a sign for that space to designate it his—it was a good sign mounted on shiny card with his school logo on it. It looked great.

He came home and together we made hot chocolate. With all that space on the surfaces it was easy to do. I demonstrated and he copied. He made the whole thing. He got a bit worried but I did not jump in and do it for him. I just showed him how and encouraged him. He even lit the gas hob after I had shown him how. We went and sat down and watched our favourite TV show with our drinks.

Later last night we went into the kitchen to get ready for the next day. I have been packing his bag for him for college but now I can see that he needs to do this for himself. The funny thing is (although it will make sense to you I think) that I didn’t need to ask him or encourage him to do it. He went to the space I had made and packed his bag himself, got his water bottle and placed it next to his bag in the space for the morning. He got all excited and looked at the sign I had made and said “I like going to college,” and then, I’m not kidding, he drew himself up and said “I’m NOT a baby.”

I saw, right there, what I can do to make that demon shrink and to make my son’s confidence grow. After only one change in my little house I saw the difference right there in front of me. He said it. He spoke up against his demon and I saw it wince and shrink. It felt good, better than good, to see that.

I thought that my most important job as a mother of an asperboy was to protect my son and smooth out everything I could for him. I have been wrong. My most important job is to empower my son. To step back. To let him be him. To be there for him but not to take his powers away. To encourage his powers to come out, and, as they come out, so his demons will retreat.

I am so moved by what I have learned I had to let you know. It was your book that made me see a very very important thing. It is so often your advice and your words that I turn to when things get tough. I always come away from an encounter with your work feeling positive … yes, feeling empowered. You empower me so that I can empower my son. And thus the world gets better.

Bless you Jennifer. We are so lucky to have you in the world.

Cynthia Kim discusses the labels present in her book’s title—Nerdy, Shy, and Socially Inappropriate

In this extract from Nerdy, Shy and Socially Inappropriate: A User Guide to an Asperger Life (forthcoming October 2014), author Cynthia Kim talks about the origin of the labels used in the book’s title and how she’s reconciled those aspects of herself since being diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome at age 42. 

While I’d heard of Asperger’s, I’d never considered that it might be something that applied to me. Sure I could see myself in some of the symptoms, but who didn’t?

I’d told myself that having Asperger’s was similar to being shy—a really bad case of shyness—which made it easy to dismiss. And I wasn’t that shy, was I? I had a job, a child, a husband. I interacted with people when necessary.

I carefully avoided the qualifiers. I had a job that I’d structured around all of my little neuroses. I had a child to whom I’d stopped saying the words “I love you” as soon as she was old enough to talk. I had a husband who was growing increasingly frustrated with my often cold, controlling behavior. I interacted with people when necessary and no more.

One day, as I listened to the radio story on Asperger’s, I felt like they were talking about me. Not about someone like me, but about me. I don’t know what made that story different from the others I’d come across about Asperger’s. And there had been many—my fascination with Asperger’s Syndrome and autism should have been an obvious red flag, warning me that my subconscious was trying to tell me something.

Maybe I was finally ready to see the big picture. Whatever the cause, the result was a feeling of lightness—like Asperger’s Syndrome was a bucket that would hold all of the things about myself that I found confusing and painful and shameful and frustrating and hard. Maybe finally having a place to put all those things would mean I wouldn’t have to juggle them anymore.

Intrigued, I began reading everything I could find about autism spectrum conditions. It quickly became obvious that Asperger’s was more than a collection of social and communication problems.

There were dozens of little tells that were undeniably me and had nothing to do with being shy or introverted. The way I often talk too loudly or too quietly. The intense interests in unusual topics. My blunt honesty. My heavy dependence on lists and routines. The way I don’t recognize people “out of context.” My discomfort with compliments. The list was long enough for me to finally admit that it might be a good idea to get evaluated for an autism spectrum condition.

As hard as that admission was, once it became clear that I was likely on the autism spectrum, my first reaction was relief. It explained so much about my life that I’d thought was my fault—for not trying hard enough or being good enough. It wasn’t an excuse but it was a hell of a good explanation.

As I learned more about Asperger’s and about myself, the initial relief gave way to a rollercoaster of emotions: anger, grief, resentment, fear, surprise, confusion, acceptance, joy, optimism and increasingly a deep, liberating sense of peace.

I finally had the right context for the labels I’d carried with me all my life, the ones that never quite felt like a complete explanation: nerdy, shy, socially inappropriate. Yes, I was the bookish, nerdy kid. The quirky teenager who loved karate and knew far too many random facts. I was always the quiet one, too shy to speak up in class, too introverted to chase after boys or go to parties. I was the kid with the weird friends and the weirder habits.

That shy, nerdy little girl grew up, but little changed. Soon she was the woman who didn’t seem to notice that it was socially inappropriate to wear the same clothes every day. The woman who knew even more random facts and considered them fascinating dinner party conversation. The woman who still occasionally forgets to check if she’s brushed her hair before leaving the house.

Nerdy, shy and socially inappropriate. Those words have followed me since childhood and now I know why. And it’s the why that has fascinated me. The why is what this book is about. Since discovering that I’m on the spectrum, I’ve been blogging about my experiences, processing what it means to suddenly be autistic at 42. In a way, I’ve been forced to relearn how to be me. All the things that I thought were broken or defective or weird about me? It turns out they’re perfectly normal for people like me. Even more exciting? There actually are other people like me. Lots of them.

As I’ve gotten to know other autistic adults, I’ve come to realize that we have much in  common and we are as diverse as any other group of people. There are few traits that are universal, which makes it hard to write a definitive book about life on the spectrum.

What I’ve written instead is what the experience of being—and of becoming—autistic has meant for me. There has been much to discover—about autism, about disability, about compassion and community and self. I have spent hundreds of hours reading and researching, measuring theory and practice against my own experience. It’s not an exaggeration to say that “all things autism” has become my new special interest.

The process of writing this book, of unpacking the hard and sad and joyful aspects of my life in the context of Asperger’s, has changed me more than any other experience in my life.

Nerdy, shy and socially inappropriate are no longer labels for me to shrink away from or offer up apologetically as an explanation for yet another awkward social encounter. I’m proud to be a nerd, I’ve traded in shy for the more neutral sounding quiet and I’m unapologetically socially inappropriate.

Understanding Asperger’s has helped me understand myself and that’s made all the difference.

2014 Living Now Book Awards JKP/SD Medal Winners Announced!

The Living Now Book Awards were established in 2008 to honor life-changing books, and to bring increased recognition to the year’s best lifestyle, homestyle, world-improvement and self-improvement titles. The awards celebrate the innovation and creativity of books that enhance the quality of life. The gold, silver and bronze medalists in the 2014 Living Now Book Awards highlight titles that represent some of the fastest-growing segments in book publishing today.

We are proud and excited to announce that one book from Jessica Kingsley Publishers and two books from our Singing Dragon imprint have been selected as Medal Winners!

From the Jessica Kingsley Publishers list…Final Chapters: Writings About the End of Life

Gold Medal WinnerGold Medal Winner in Grieving/Death & Dying
Final Chapters: Writings About the End of Life
Edited by Roger Kirkpatrick

 

 

From Singing Dragon…Chasing the Phantom: In Pursuit of Myth and Meaning in the Realm of the Snow Leopard

Gold Medal WinnerGold Medal Winner in Enlightenment/Spirituality
Chasing the Phantom: In Pursuit of Myth and Meaning in the Realm of the Snow Leopard
by Eduard Fischer

 

Bronze Medal Winner

Bronze Medal Winner in Healing Arts/Bodywork/Energy Techniques
Qigong and Chinese Self-Massage for Everyday Health Care: Ways to Address Chronic Health Issues and to Improve Your Overall Health Based on Chinese Medicine Techniques
Compiled by Zeng Qingnan

 

 

 

 

 

Jessica Kingsley Publishers/Singing Dragon would like to congratulate our 2014 Living Now Book Award Winning authors.

For more information on Living Now Book Awards or to see the full list of 2014 Medal Winners, please click here.

Request a copy of our 2014 new and bestselling books on Autism Spectrum Disorders and related conditions


2014 September  - Autism Catalogue Cover
Our brand new catalogue of books and resources on Autism Spectrum Disorders and related conditions will be available soon.

Click here to sign up for a free copy.

Our new catalogue has essential new titles from Cynthia Kim (Nerdy, Shy and Inappropriate) and Tessie Regan (Shorts).

This is a great opportunity for parents to get a hold of Tony Attwood’s newest book, Been There. Done That. Try This! as well as Jennifer Cook O’Toole’s The Asperkid’s Game Plan.

For professionals, the catalog offers useful new resources like A Practical Guide to Mental Health Problems in Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder by Khalid Karim et al., and the new fully updated edition of Kids in the Syndrome Mix by Martin Kutscher.

To request a copy of the catalogue please click here.

Click this link to see our full listing of books on Asperger Syndrome, Autism and other Syndromes.

JKP Authors at National Autism Conference in Indianapolis

Judith Canty Graves and Carson Graves, authors of Parents Have The Power To Make Special Education Work: An Insider Guide, share their experience at the 2014 45th National Autism Conference in Indianapolis, IN, USA (July 23-26, 2014).

Indiana State Capitol building

Indiana State Capitol building

“The National Autism Conference in Indianapolis was an exciting event for us. We were pleased to have our book be among the ones displayed at the Jessica Kingsley Publishers booth in the Exhibit Hall. We want to thank  Stephanie DeMuzio of JKP Sales and Marketing for arranging a book signing for us on July 24. We met many wonderful parents and educators who stopped by to speak with us about special education.

The National Autism Society, located in Bethesda, Maryland, organized this conference and approximately 1,000 people attended from all over the country. Dr. Temple Grandin, keynote speaker, gave a dynamic speech entitled ‘The Autistic Brain.’ She spoke about the challenges she has faced in her life and how she overcame them with the help of her mother. She also discussed the importance of transition planning for young adults with autism and how communities need to help them succeed in the work force in order to be productive adults.

JKP authors Carson Graves, Jennifer Cook O'Toole and Judith Canty Graves

JKP authors Carson Graves, Jennifer Cook O’Toole and Judith Canty Graves

There were many interesting presentations on a wide variety of topics. One of the most impressive was given by fellow JKP author Jennifer Cook O’Toole, the Asperkids series, whose session was titled ‘See-through Eggshells and Chalk on the Trampoline: Building Extraordinary People Through Ordinary Stuff.’ Jennifer is a talented and charismatic speaker, overflowing with ideas for developing the interests, curiosity, and sense of fun in children and teens with Asperger’s Syndrome. She offered wise advice to parents and teachers so that they could better understand how others think, especially children. Her presentation was inspiring!O_Toole_Asperkids-An-In_978-1-84905-902-2_colourjpg-web Meeting her and hearing her talk was a conference highlight for us.

We are pleased that we were able to participate in this exciting conference and to meet interesting people from all over the country.”

For more information on or to purchase a copy of Parents Have the Power to Make Special Education Work: An Insider Guide, please visit our website.

For more infomation on the Asperkids series or to purchase, please visit our website.

 

 

 

What every parent and professional needs to know

The Autism Spectrum, Sexuality and the Law by Tony Attwood, Isabelle Hénault and Nick Dubin.

This ground-breaking book explores issues that can arise surrounding the autism spectrum (ASD), sexuality and the law.

From the book, Larry Dubin

“I know the love and dedication that is required of parents raising a child on the autism spectrum. There are so many issues that are extremely difficult to navigate. I have great admiration for parents who work hard to find and pay for necessary services while helping their children deal with the many social, sensory, speech and language, and other issues that can arise. With my deepest respect for these special and dedicated parents, let me offer this advice in light of our family’s heart-breaking experience.

  • Recognize that your child is a sexual being. Although it may be difficult to deal with your child’s sexual issues, don’t ignore them, and seek professional help if necessary. Current research indicates that a variety of problems can arise with respect to sexual development for those on the autism spectrum.
  • Make clear to your child that certain behaviors could lead to an encounter with the criminal justice system and even to imprisonment. These behaviors include viewing child pornography on the internet, stalking, unwanted touching, having meltdowns in public and indecent exposure. Your child must understand the severe legal consequences that can occur when these types of charges are brought against people on the autism spectrum who may not understand that they were even committing a criminal act. It may be appropriate to place restraints on your child’s computer to ensure only lawful use.
  • Nick’s case was processed under federal law of the United States. Although most countries criminalize possession of child pornography, the elements of the crime, the possible defenses, and the potential prison sentences are not uniformly followed. Parents should become familiar with the laws pertaining to child pornography in the country in which they reside.
  • Be sure your child knows that if ever confronted by the police, with respect to having committed a crime, he or she should be polite and ask for a lawyer to be present without making any further statements. The trusting and naïve nature of people on the autism spectrum, who typically want to please authority, make them easy candidates to be taken advantage of by trained police officers who can question them without the protection of a lawyer. The law allows police officers to make certain false statements in order to get a confession that can and will be used against the person. There is also the danger that false confessions can occur. It is always best to have a lawyer present to represent the interests of a person on the autism spectrum before making any statements to law enforcement personnel.”

Why this Book Matters—

“As you will discover reading this book, we have been through a long and horrific ordeal. Our family has suffered in silence and shame for over three years. Many would wonder why we have actually chosen to publicly expose such an intimate and personal experience. The answer is that we wanted our experience to count for something; to have a larger meaning. Our purpose in writing the book is to bring forth an issue that has been in the shadows for too long.  In the process of preparing Nick’s legal case, we gathered significant information and research that we feel obligated to share with others who could benefit from it.”

Kitty and Larry Dubin

This book is an invaluable addition to the shelves of parents of children with ASD, mental health and legal professionals, teachers, caregivers and other professionals working with individuals on the spectrum. For more information, please visit our website.

Parent/Caregiver Resolutions

Lauren Brukner shares her personal Mommy Resolutions. Lauren is an Occupational Therapist who lives in New York City with her husband and three children and the author of the forthcoming book, The Kids’ Guide to Staying Awesome and In Control: Simple Stuff to Help Children Regulate their Emotions and Senses (August 2014).

Kids learn by example; by what we say and do. I know it as a therapist. I have said it countless times to parents who have come to see me. As a mom, do I take my own advice? I try to. Honestly. Between working full-time, three kids aged six and under, and working on my upcoming book, I often feel as though I am always working and something has to give. Sometimes, letting my mommy hat fall can be an easy-sounding route. Thinking about my children over the past few weeks, I’ve had some mommy guilt, and have decided to re-prioritize what is most important. I have thus compiled a list of Mommy Resolutions that I am starting now, this very minute, even though it’s not New Year’s (or any holiday that I am aware of-if I’m wrong, please let me know!), and thought I would share it with all my fellow parents and caregivers. If you have somebody special in your life, these resolutions may apply to you, as well. <3

 

To My Children-I Promise That…:

1. I will not check Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or any other social media when we are together. We will simply play.

2. Even after a long day at work, I will breathe in the calm, and breathe out the stress, greeting you with a smile on my face. You’ve had a long day at school, too.

 

3. When we go to the park, I will be right there with you on the top of the slide, and at the next swing; that is, if you want me there.

4. I will try my hardest not to tell you that I am too busy; know that I always have time for you when you need me.

5. Let’s aim for a dance party at least three times a week.

6. Even though I work all day, I will try my hardest be there for your plays, graduations, and parties. You are my priority, and I never want you to think otherwise.

7. If I am wrong, I will look you in the eyes and tell you that I am sorry.

8. I will tell you that I love you every single day. I will list the countless reasons why as often as I can.

9. I will remind myself to appreciate every smile, sweet word, laugh, and tantrum; you are all growing up so quickly.

10. I will remind myself daily to ensure that each and every one of you wakes up in the morning and goes to bed in the evening knowing with full certainty that you are special, cherished, and loved to the moon and back.

 

Love,

Mommy

 

JKP Authors at Visions of Community 2014 Conference in Boston

Judith Canty Graves and Carson Graves, authors of Parents Have the Power to Make Special Education Work: An Insider Guide, share their experience at the 2014 Visions of Community conferece in Boston.

The Visions of Community 2014 Conference at the Seaport World Trade Center on the Boston waterfront was a great event! This annual conference, organized by the Federation for Children with Special Needs, provides education, advocacy, and networking opportunities for more than 900 individuals and families of children with special needs and the professionals who serve them. The Federation, based in Massachusetts, provides information, support, and assistance to parents of children with disabilities, their professional partners, and their communities.

There were workshops throughout the day on a variety of topics, such as improving the IEP, transition to adult life, special education law, and many others. The exhibition hall featured dozens of organizations, schools, and businesses that service the special needs community.

The organizers sponsored a book signing of our new book, Parents Have the Power to Make Special Education Work, which gave us a chance to discuss special education with everyone who came by our table to chat and have their books signed. It was a pleasure for us to meet all these parents and professionals.

The Federation believes in the power of parents to help other parents as well as placing a great value on parents as they support the health, education, and development of their children at home and in society. We want to thank Richard Robison, Executive Director of the Federation, for inviting us to be part of this conference.

 

Judith Canty Graves
Carson Graves

Request a free copy of the 2014 US catalog of resources for Special Educators

Kutscher-MD_Kids-in-the-Syn_978-1-84905-967-1_colourjpg-webOur brand new Special Educators catalog is now available for our readers in the United States. With hundreds of titles on working with students with special needs, ranging from early childhood through high school, our Special Educators catalog is an outstanding resource for  teachers, administrators, counselors, school staff and anyone who works with special kids in an educational setting.

To receive a free copy of the catalog, please sign up for our mailing list and we’ll get one out to you right away. You may also request multiple copies to share with colleagues and parents — simply note how many copies of the catalog you would like (up to 20) in the “any additional comments” box on the sign-up form.

This is an excellent opportunity to get more information about forthcoming titles such as Colour Coding for Learners with Autism by Adele Devine and Kids in the Syndrome Mix of ADHD, LD, Autism Spectrum, Tourette’s, Anxiety, and More! as well as bestsellers like Jennifer Cook O’Toole’s Asperkid’s (Secret) Book of Social Rules. The catalog also contains a wealth of information on fun and useful books designed specifically to be read by and with children with special needs, such as An Exceptional Children’s Guide to Touch by Hunter Manasco and The Panicosaurus by K. I. Al Ghani. 

Click this link to see our full listing of books for Special Educators.

To request a copy of our US Special Educators Catalog, please click here to fill out our sign-up sheet. Please be sure to click any additional areas of interest as well. You should receive a copy of the catalog within two weeks.

Parents Can Make Special Education Work—Why We Wrote Our Book

JKP authors Judith Canty Graves and Carson Graves introduce their new book, Parents Have the Power to Make Special Education Work: An Insider Guide, and explain how to make special education work for your family.

“Almost 30 years of research and experience has demonstrated that the education of children with disabilities can be made more effective by strengthening the role and responsibility of parents.

—Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services,
U.S. Department of Education, 2010

We entered the world of special education like most parents, with concerns about our child and a diagnosis we didn’t understand. Our experience began in preschool and continued through high school graduation, a span of fifteen years. Over these years we met many other parents of children receiving special education services. We listened to their stories and heard many themes emerge that corresponded with our own observations. As a result of this experience, we realized that every single year of a child’s education matters and that parents are the only constant advocates their child will have during these years. It is an enormous responsibility, but it can be an ultimately rewarding one.

One lesson our experience taught us is that the more parents know about special education, the more effective they can be as advocates for their children. Learning how special education works takes persistence because, like an iceberg, most of it exists below the surface of what parents can initially see. We have heard stories of school districts that are reasonable to deal with, but like us, you may encounter problems that are preventing your child from receiving an education appropriate to his or her needs. The keys to overcoming these problems are knowledge and organization. The tools you must use are research and a network of carefully selected professionals and like minded parents whom you have to identify and cultivate.

Parents of children with special needs have two roles. The first, and most obvious role, is understanding and dealing with their child’s unique disability. The second, and more subtle role, is learning to navigate around the icebergs of special education. This second role usually comes as a surprise. Parents who have quite naturally focused solely on their child’s disability are often not prepared for how the special education system works. They assume that school personnel are the professionals who will know, and more importantly will do, what is best for their child. This assumption is all too often misplaced, because special education in many school districts has become an elaborate bureaucratic maze in which budget requirements are more important than doing what is right or even what is legally required. The result is confusion, disappointment, and lost opportunities.

Our book, Parents Have the Power to Make Special Education Work, is both a narrative of our personal experience navigating the special education system and a guide to help other parents translate our experience to fit their own situation. When we entered special education in the early 1990s, there were no online search engines or social networking sites, so it was difficult to find information and meet other parents with similar concerns. We felt isolated and confused. A book like this would have changed our lives. That is why we wrote it, so that parents who are now involved with special education can learn from our experience.

The realization that parents have the power to make special education work came to us while attending a workshop on transition planning. The speaker made the point that at a Team meeting most of the school personnel in the room actually knew very little about special education. Many understood individual pieces, depending on their specialties, but only the parents were in the position to see the whole picture. The workshop speaker encouraged parents to study the special education process, especially the laws, in order to understand their rights and protections and what a school district’s obligations are to a student, because ultimately, it is the parents’ responsibility for making sure that schools comply with the law. As the saying goes, knowledge is power.

Our message is that parents can make special education work if they take the time to understand their child’s disability, their legal rights, and the often hidden agenda of school culture. We know that you, the parents, are the best advocates for your child. You must be proactive and organized, study the state and federal laws, and persevere. Doing all this will give you the information, the confidence, and the power to help your child get an appropriate education that will pay many dividends in the future. This will be the most important and rewarding job you will ever have. We hope our book will guide you and inspire you.

Judith Canty Graves
Carson Graves