An activity-packed primer backed by the power and authority of a passionate parent.

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An After-School Workbook for First and Second Graders with Autism

A mother shares her insights and at-home exercises tailored for early autistic learners in this how-to parenting/education guide.

For Adams (The Needs of Billy and Other Autistic Children, 2014), it was soon apparent, watching the struggles her autistic son, Billy, faced in school, that she’d have to provide additional assistance at home. In her new workbook (her first was focused on special needs kindergartners), Adams first offers commentary on what she found to be particularly helpful to address the early learning needs of her own son, which she believes will be applicable to other autistic and special needs children. Her insights include that parents must be aware of and address attention-span limits and also use “the obsession,” such as taking advantage of a particular child’s ability to focus better when there is a consistent underlying noise. The bulk of her book consists of simple and generally one-page exercises that families can use with their children, “so parents can get all the information in one book instead of having to shop at different places for different materials.” These exercises include many focused on visual identification: of animals, parts of the human body, differences within a group, and more. Math and science topics are naturally part of these lesson kits, including fill-in-the-blank sentences to guide the child to find out and record body measurements. The workbook wraps up with two short stories to prompt conversation and reading comprehension. Adams has done a commendable job in collecting an array of exercises that will save parents time and money trying to find sources elsewhere, providing many avenues for discussion and reinforcement of math, spelling, and other key fundamentals of early learning. Adams’ inclusion of a sign-language lesson could have used more explanation (such as how and when to use such a language aid), and this book’s black-and-white illustrations are rather crudely drawn, which may lessen its appeal to some. Still, most parents should appreciate this clear and simple workbook, particularly since it was created and road-tested by a concerned mother.   

An activity-packed primer backed by the power and authority of a passionate parent.

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4917-7091-7

Page Count: 178

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Feb. 29, 2016

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A vivid sequel that strains credulity.

THE ESCAPE ARTIST

Fremont (After Long Silence, 1999) continues—and alters—her story of how memories of the Holocaust affected her family.

At the age of 44, the author learned that her father had disowned her, declaring her “predeceased”—or dead in his eyes—in his will. It was his final insult: Her parents had stopped speaking to her after she’d published After Long Silence, which exposed them as Jewish Holocaust survivors who had posed as Catholics in Europe and America in order to hide multilayered secrets. Here, Fremont delves further into her tortured family dynamics and shows how the rift developed. One thread centers on her life after her harrowing childhood: her education at Wellesley and Boston University, the loss of her virginity to a college boyfriend before accepting her lesbianism, her stint with the Peace Corps in Lesotho, and her decades of work as a lawyer in Boston. Another strand involves her fraught relationship with her sister, Lara, and how their difficulties relate to their father, a doctor embittered after years in the Siberian gulag; and their mother, deeply enmeshed with her own sister, Zosia, who had married an Italian count and stayed in Rome to raise a child. Fremont tells these stories with novelistic flair, ending with a surprising theory about why her parents hid their Judaism. Yet she often appears insensitive to the serious problems she says Lara once faced, including suicidal depression. “The whole point of suicide, I thought, was to succeed at it,” she writes. “My sister’s completion rate was pathetic.” Key facts also differ from those in her earlier work. After Long Silence says, for example, that the author grew up “in a small city in the Midwest” while she writes here that she grew up in “upstate New York,” changes Fremont says she made for “consistency” in the new book but that muddy its narrative waters. The discrepancies may not bother readers seeking psychological insights rather than factual accuracy, but others will wonder if this book should have been labeled a fictionalized autobiography rather than a memoir.

A vivid sequel that strains credulity.

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982113-60-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.

COLUMBINE

Comprehensive, myth-busting examination of the Colorado high-school massacre.

“We remember Columbine as a pair of outcast Goths from the Trench Coat Mafia snapping and tearing through their high school hunting down jocks to settle a long-running feud. Almost none of that happened,” writes Cullen, a Denver-based journalist who has spent the past ten years investigating the 1999 attack. In fact, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold conceived of their act not as a targeted school shooting but as an elaborate three-part act of terrorism. First, propane bombs planted in the cafeteria would erupt during lunchtime, indiscriminately slaughtering hundreds of students. The killers, positioned outside the school’s main entrance, would then mow down fleeing survivors. Finally, after the media and rescue workers had arrived, timed bombs in the killers’ cars would explode, wiping out hundreds more. It was only when the bombs in the cafeteria failed to detonate that the killers entered the high school with sawed-off shotguns blazing. Drawing on a wealth of journals, videotapes, police reports and personal interviews, Cullen sketches multifaceted portraits of the killers and the surviving community. He portrays Harris as a calculating, egocentric psychopath, someone who labeled his journal “The Book of God” and harbored fantasies of exterminating the entire human race. In contrast, Klebold was a suicidal depressive, prone to fits of rage and extreme self-loathing. Together they forged a combustible and unequal alliance, with Harris channeling Klebold’s frustration and anger into his sadistic plans. The unnerving narrative is too often undermined by the author’s distracting tendency to weave the killers’ expressions into his sentences—for example, “The boys were shooting off their pipe bombs by then, and, man, were those things badass.” Cullen is better at depicting the attack’s aftermath. Poignant sections devoted to the survivors probe the myriad ways that individuals cope with grief and struggle to interpret and make sense of tragedy.

Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.

Pub Date: April 6, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-446-54693-5

Page Count: 406

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2009

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