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Asperger Syndrome in the Family - review

Liane Holliday Willey has written an account of her family's life with Asperger's Syndrome that may make you laugh just as often as it brings a tear to your eye. With great sincerity and a special kind of bravery, Willey exposes herself and her family members with Asperger's in an exceptionally moving manner. Wiley has her doctorate in psycho-linguistics and is an well qualified and eloquent spokesperson for those on the autism spectrum. She is married and has three children.

The author worries about her young daughter with AS. “I think about my daughter and her future... I want things to be easier for her. I want the world to work harder when it meets people who are different.” Yet she also recognizes the often overlooked strengths and positives of “aspies”. “We can teach you to follow the right path instead of the wrong, for few have a moral code as stringent as ours.” Willey's book unfolds as a series of reflections and not a biographical sketch. She talks about the ups and downs of aspie marriage, accentuating the positive side of obsessions, and the importance of balance, which can be difficult for the aspie to find and maintain.

Throughout the book, there are helpful bullet points and lists, such as “10 Traits Aspies Struggle With”, which begins with number one, inflexible and rigid thinking, and goes on to number ten, language and communication which goes beyond a literal level. There's also the very useful topic, “Socializing the Aspie Way”. Here she sets out some critical rules for positive social experiences, such as “keep party gatherings small”, “set time limits for your socializing”, and “prompt the aspie to rely on an innocuous calming stim when they get too nervous in public.”

I highly recommend this book for anyone who wishes to better understand people with Asperger's or Asperger type traits. People with AS are different from the norm, but that doesn't always mean something negative. Once allowed to get close, no friend will ever be so loyal, and few others will have the same drive to learn about subjects of particular interest.



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