A guidebook offering new insights and practical advice for dealing effectively with a spouse or child diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome.
Asperger’s is one of many disorders on the autism spectrum that impairs social skills. Marshack (Going Over the Edge?, 2009) brings decades of experience as a psychologist, family therapist, and wife and mother of an Asperger’s-affected spouse and children to this revealing look at a commonly misunderstood disorder. In Part 1, she discusses common behaviors of people suffering from Asperger’s and of “neurotypical” family members who are not impaired but trying to cope. She offers a poignant account of her own bewildering experience raising her eldest daughter, whose Asperger’s presented itself well before the diagnosis was generally understood by the medical community. Readers will empathize with the author’s “helicopter mom” behavior with her socially impaired child and will feel her pain as she’s ultimately forced to let her daughter go. In Part 2, Marshack reveals the condition as essentially an empathy disorder and discusses the works of experts such as Simon Baron-Cohen (who studied neuroscience and empathy disorders), Adam Smith (who advanced the Empathy Imbalance Hypothesis) and Peter Vermuelen (who examined the concept of “context blindness”). She also introduces the idea of “Rules of Engagement,” which sufferers can use as a way to relate to people without feeling true empathy. Parts 3 and 4 offer additional insights into the lives of neurotypicals, who often feel invisible and ignored, and elaborate on coping strategies introduced in earlier chapters. The author mercifully keeps the clinical jargon to a minimum, and the prose is cogent and well-organized throughout. At the end, she provides links to online support groups, websites, phone numbers and other helpful resources. Her personal accounts of her family life and clinical practice should resonate with readers seeking to understand Asperger’s and may help to assure them that they are not alone.
A useful, enlightening guide to understanding and coping with Asperger’s syndrome.