Inside Aspergers Looking Out by  Kathy Hoopmann

MEfA Mum Alicia Montes reviewed this book:

I've got 4-year-old daughter with a diagnosis of ASD and since she started going to school I knew at some point I'd have to try to explain not only to her teachers but also to her classmates how she is different and why she does not behave like they do. And I don't mean by that giving them the traditional explanation as it is quite vague and not really appropriate for children her age: "Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people. It also affects how they make sense of the world around them." (http://www.autism.org.uk/).

 Yes, ASD affects how you can communicate and interact with other people, but as it doesn't affect everybody in the same way or degree, each individual with autism/Asperger's is very different and unique, making it pretty difficult to explain to others the way in which your child/friend/relative is different from the rest. And that is why this book is such a great one as it tries to explain with simple and clear language and from the point of view of someone experiencing it, not what ASD/Asperger's is but how it feels to live with it.

It might not go into detail or give you loads of information about ASD/Asperger's but it serves as a introduction to how the person affected perceives the world and how they react to some common, everyday situations.

I personally love the way this book starts" "OK, let's get a few things settled right from the start. People with Asperger syndrome are not broken, or damaged, or somehow less than normal people. We do not need to be fixed, and we don't suffer from Asperger's as if it is a disease. Sure, we may think and act and learn differently from others, but different can be a good thing."

It was great reading about some of the traits that my daughter shares and thinking: "Yes, she does this… and this… and this one too! Maybe if I show this to her classmates they will understand her better." I'm talking about the challenge that is making friends when she seems to be in her own world and not interested in the other children, the difficulty understanding non-verbal communication, the constant repetition of some things, the lack of eye contact, some sensory issues, the meltdowns, etc.

It is a very positive, funny and engaging book, so much so that once you start reading it you cannot put it down until you finish (but it is okay as it won't take too long) and, as I've mentioned before, it is written from the point of view of someone with Asperger's syndrome. But don't let the funny photographs fool you as there is a serious message as stated at the end of the book: "We are simply individuals who need our weaknesses supported, our strengths recognized, and our abilities encouraged. So, if people with and without Asperger's can learn to accept and value each other, imagine what we can achieve together!"

You'll laugh whilst reading this book… but it'll also make you think about all those things in daily life you never think about (because to you they are a "normal") but that your daughter, son or anyone else living with ASD/Asperger's has problems with. As we are used to living with someone with ASD/Asperger's, we sometimes forget how challenging the world is for them and this will remind us in a fun and light-hearted way how many things they have to cope with every single day of their lives. As I've just said, you will laugh, but the message will stay with you and with anybody who reads it.

Although this is a book for everybody, the use of full colour photographs of animals in different situations makes it particularly ideal to use it with young children whose attention might otherwise be lost after a couple of minutes if this were a "normal" book on Autism/Asperger's syndrome.

I would say this is a great introductory book for parents, relatives, friends, teachers and anybody who wants a better understanding of ASD/Asperger's and wants to find out what it feels like living with it. It is also an ideal and very handy book to take with you to show friends & family as it is very funny and engaging but with a serious message.

Alicia Montes