For all who have not walked in the shoes of an Aspie youth, been there and done that, The Aspie Teen’s Survival Guide: Candid Advice for Teens, Tweens, and Parents, from a Young Man with Asperger’s Syndrome by J. D. Kraus, will allow you to do so. J.D. Kraus’ survival guide will help you to better understand individuals with Asperger’s syndrome (AS). If you are a person with Asperger’s syndrome, you will also benefit from J.D. Kraus’ go-to-guide of survival just to know you are not alone. If you only had an Asperger’s diagnosis when you were older, reliving your school years side by side with Kraus as “big brother explaining things” will lighten your load of unexplained crises, unhappy feelings, and unobtainable goals. Some of these issues you have been carrying since your school years. A must read for all educators to realize the impact and influence they have on the lives of all students with special needs.
In the foreword by Rudy Simone, author of Asperger’s on the Job and Aspergirls, she writes: “The fact that this book exists means that no other teen with Asperger’s has to feel so alone, confused, and ashamed. They can get the help they need, turn and face their fears, and continue their studies for as long as they want or need. Not having a solid education has impacted my self-esteem, my credibility, and my finances in more ways than I care to recount.”
The Aspie Teen’s Survival Guide covers most topics that are a thorn in the lives of youth with Asperger’s. It is a resource book you will be able to refer to often and easily to find solutions and explanations. You will find the well-organized chapters with precise titles and a detailed index make this a handy book to give to teachers, family members or friends who could benefit from Kraus’ sound and sage advice. The chapters I preferred because Kraus went in great detail explaining how he felt and coped were on:
- Sensitive Senses
- Motor Skills and Awkwardness
- Stress & Its Associates
- Learning Language
- Socializing and Friendships
Is life easy for individuals with Asperger’s?
Throughout the book, the author points out the many areas he has trouble with. Knowing this should help educators, parents, all who work, study, or play with Aspies to better understand their behaviors or comments. No two individual with Asperger’s is the same but many experience some of these feelings or traits that Mr. Kraus describes:
- I have developed this “concrete” style of thinking. I’m good with school subjects such as algebra, reading, and history. But when it came to geometry in the tenth grade, I encountered a source of agitation.
- Whenever I went through one of those congested hallways, I felt my private space was being invaded. .. I could no longer take high school.
- I never liked to stand before a crowd of people or be in the midst of a chaotic event than involves an overload of noise.
- There are certain textures I like and dislike… When I touched the grass, I felt that I was touching razor sharp blades.
- I had a funny walk, an odd way of holding a pencil, and was incapable of playing sports.
- It is hard for me to express my emotions or to tell my parents if something is bugging me.
- I had problems expressing my anger.
- Following the onset of puberty… I wandered in the gloomy mist of depression. I felt hopeless and worthless. I couldn’t concentrate in school very well, and I could not find much pleasure in anything.
- Grasping communication skills such as body language, metaphors, slang, idioms, the pronunciation of certain words, and understanding people’s vocal tones is like trying to understand a foreign language.
- Friday used to be my least favourite day… come home from school… lie on my bed. I would stare at the ceiling and feel the isolation and loneliness build inside me.
Some of J.D. Kraus’ tips on how to cope with Asperger’s:
- Try to be yourself. I know it sounds corny, but it’s dumber to pretend to be someone you are not.
- There are individual physical activities you can do like lifting weights, running track, karate, judo, or tae kwon do… with karate I gained more self-confidence, motivation, perseverance, and a sense of pride.
- Never be afraid to speak up if you’re bullied. Being silent about it will only eat you up.
- Do things you enjoy. Set realistic goals that you are capable of accomplishing. Do whatever you can to fight depression.
To sum up, J.D. Kraus writes that youths with Asperger’s should focus on the good traits they have and strive for excellence. By following Mr. Kraus’ sound advice, many with Asperger’s should have more successful and fulfilling lives.
About the author:
J. D. Kraus was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome in the fourth grade. Now a student at the University of Cincinnati, he continues to overcome challenges and embrace his differences.
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