Luke Jackson - Freaks, Geeks and Asperger Syndrome: A User Guide to Adolescence

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The Guide Book That Can Cheer Someone Up

Feb 9, 2007
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Clear instructions for us people with Aspergers. Funny. Clever. Cheers you up.

Cons:Mum's comment; not enough to help Asperger people tolerate neurotypical people

The Bottom Line: It's intelligent, funny, readable, and doesn't patronise the reader or make them feel "disabled".

This is one of those books written about Asperger syndrome by somebody who has Asperger syndrome, which is great for someone with Asperger syndrome, like me, to read, and in this case clear and funny also for a neurotypical person to read also.

The book is set out in chapters, covering things like dating, making friends, fascinations and fixations and sleeping problems. This is good, not just because it's clear, but it also lets a reader know about the Asperger syndrome traits and what they are quickly and easily without saying "If you do this, this and this you have Asperger syndrome" - not that it ever does that anyway.

There is in general a good balance of things addressed to the Asperger reader and things addressed to the neurotypical reader. For example, the section "How to Win Friends and Influence People" is largely addressed to the Asperger reader, since a neurotypical person would not be as likely to have problems with this as an Asperger person (Asperger people lack the intuitive know-hows like small talk, eye contact and personal space management). On the other hand, the section "To Tell or Not to Tell" is aimed mostly at adults, arguing to them why they should tell their children that they have Asperger syndrome and not leave them in the dark about why they don't seem to fit in, or seem to socialise differently.

The book is good at giving clear tips and instructions for the people with Asperger syndrome, especially on things like how to get dates and how to get to sleep. Things like (and these are just examples, they are not quotes) 1. Personal hygiene is important, so make sure you shower/wash hair/brush teeth regularly. 2. Don't do things like try to kiss passionately or put your arm round her neck on your first date; this is invasive. 3. Don't talk about your specialist subject all the time, as this may well be boring to her. And so on. I say "she" and "her" because it is Luke writing, though he does attempt to make sure that the genders are given equal recognition and help.

The style is extremely engaging - this is one of the most engaging books I've ever read actually, witty, positive, making light of quirks and things, with the odd joke or thought, such as "I wouldn't like to be stabbed for no reason. Come to think of it, I wouldn't like to be stabbed FOR a reason either!" and one title that struck me as extremely clever was the title "Sense and Sense Abilities" for the section on sensory quirks (sometimes we find we have very acute sense of hearing, smell or touch, or certain foods taste much stronger for us, or we get our senses muddled up - every time I put my glasses on my sense of smell gets really heightened!)

I quite often read through this book just for a bit of light humour and the feeling that I can identify with it. It also has great cartoons, such as the one in the section on drugs - a fish smoking a cigarette with the caption "No lungs, no problem".

The only minor detail that my Mum pointed out, which seems to be a shortcoming in many books about Asperger syndrome, is that more of it focuses on helping neurotypical people understand Asperger syndrome than helping people with Asperger syndrome people understand neurotypical people. She felt this was unfair, and I have to say I agree. Since there are less of us, it might be argued that it's more important that they understand us. Fair and dandy, but then if that's got to work, surely it's fair that we do our side as well?

In fact this book is better than some in this way, what with the sections and tips on what is and isn't alright to say in certain situations, as well as explanations of voice inflection and gestures. Although these are dispersed throughout the book, apart from the dating and friendship chapters. On the other hand, there are several whole chapters devoted to teaching the neurotypical person how to understand the autistic/Asperger syndrome person, such as the ones on school, bullying, sleep, fascinations and fixations and sensory. But I suppose even just having those chapters laid out to see gives the intelligent Asperger syndrome person a clue as to what they may need to watch out for and possibly work to change or improve.

Overall I would say this is worth the buy, whether you are male or female, affected by Asperger syndrome or neurotypical, and may actually be a useful adolescent guide for any muddled teenager - because there's a lot of them around, aren't there?

Recommend this product? Yes

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