Friday, January 3, 2014

The Asperkid's Secret Book of Social Rules

For people working with Michelle Garcia Winner's Social Thinking programs, Jennifer Cook O'Toole's book, The Asperkid's Secret Book of Social Rules: The Handbook of Not-So-Obvious Social Guidelines for Tweens and Teens with Asperger Syndrome, is a beautiful complement. The author is an Aspie, married to an Aspie with three Aspie kids. Consequently, she is well versed in Autistic Spectrum disorders. One of the things that she brings to the table is the fact that she is trained as a guidance counselor and teacher and thus has learned how to share her advice in a kid-friendly, adoptable manner.

Two major themes can be found in the book. The first is the three big traits she sees in Aspies: mind blindness, black or white thinking and catastrophic thinking. Most of her rules surround at least one of the these ideas, many cross over them. She emphasizes using cognition to counter the results of these characteristics. The second theme is Socrates's triple filter: truth, kindness and necessity. Using these filters, a person can determine if and what should be shared. Again, stopping, thinking  and applying the filters helps a person be a friend.

The book is designed to be for the teen or tween to use as a tool to help learn how to function better in social situations. The 31 short chapters are easy readings and the author advises that they be read and reread as necessary. Bullet points abound, summarizing the main points in a way that is easy to access and refer to. If a person were in a social skills group, the readings could go home and reinforce the message of the group. Having the book as a resource means that in times of challenge, a person could take the book off the shelf and refer to it.

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