Book Review : Been There. Done That. TRY THIS! An Aspie’s guide to life on earth
Written on 19th Mar 2015 by Sylvia Lowery
Imagine you have been abducted and taken to a new world where most people around you have strange customs and actions. You are perplexed and confused, you want to fit in but don”t know how. Now imagine someone gives you a book full of advice from people who found themselves in the same position as yourself but they have learnt how to navigate this strange place and can speak to you in a language you can understand. This book I imagine is a great help and support for those on the autistic spectrum. The aspect I like most about this book is that it listens to the real experts”, those who have autism themselves. My only regret is that books like this are not available as an audiobook for people like Alex who don”t get on with reading.
I like the format of this book it has three sections, the first section contains 9 chapters that deal with main stressors that affect individuals on the autistic spectrum. These are topics such as, anxiety, accepting change, meltdowns, sensory issues, friends and relationships. Each topic is introduced by personal testimonies from those on the Spectrum, they give an amazing insight into how they are affected and what has helped them to cope personally. This is followed by advice from Dr Tony Attwood which is very practical and helpful, there are links to support sights and recommended reading for each subject.
Section two of the book is full of amazing artwork that portrays the way artists on the Spectrum have felt about the stressors. This art is beautiful and compelling. Yet is full of the struggle and pain that is experienced. I found myself wanting to weep as I looked at these works of art. They were compelling because they gave you an insight into the mind of the artist that words could never describe. One of my favourites was Plate 3, The Visitation by the artist: Stephanie Tihanyi. this is what she said about her own work.
“ In this painting, the past and the future meet at the crossroads of a house (symbolising self). Part of the self is imbedded, frozen and trapped in the (painful past), but another part is beginning to sense freedom and possibility of transformation, Friends await (cat) and the bird show the way.”
The final section introduces the reader to the “Aspie Mentors” they are all fantastic role models and have each demonstrated that you can succeed and excel in life despite the daily struggles that are often part of being on the Spectrum.
One of my favourite chapter”s was chapter one which launches into the very real issue of overcoming anxiety. According to the research 86% of individuals with Asperger”s Syndrome or HFA have to live with anxiety. I am very aware of Alex”s constant battle with anxiety and was looking forward to reading this chapter. It didn”t disappoint. The personal testimonies were full of meaning and conveyed the very real suffering experienced by the writer”s. The sense of having to battle with this on a daily basis was ever present, however there was advice on how to manage anxiety. This ranged from relaxation, listening to music, not worrying about anxiety, exercise, good food, time with loved animals, daylight, thinking positive, following special interests and the use of “stimming” to alleviate the stress were among the advice that was shared. Dr Tony Atwood gives advice that many on the spectrum will find helpful.
This book is great for someone who is on the Spectrum but I think it”s a fantastic resource for family members, friends and professional who want to gain a better understanding of HFA/ Asperger”s.
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