Originally published 5/19/2010: Last night I had the pleasure of listening to a talk given by Jesse Saperstein, author of Atypical: Life with Asperger’s in 20 1/3 Chapters. Mr. Saperstein spoke about some of his challenges growing up on the spectrum as well as how he’s fared as an adult with Asperger’s. He was candid and engaging when recounting his difficulties with transitions, the awful time he had in college, dating and even the occasional inability to keep a job. Yet, he never gave the impression that his life was all bad. As a matter of fact, he said that there were times when it was rather amazing. For example, right after college, he hiked the entire 2000 + miles of the Appalachian Trail.
I was very impressed with this young man’s wisdom and took some of his advice to heart. He stressed the need for parents of children on the spectrum to accustom our kids to managing without aides in different environments. To paraphrase: once they walk through that door after high school, all that support disappears. Mr. Saperstein also advised that we let out children have as many ‘mainstream’ activities as they can handle, let them experience failure in order to learn from the process and to make sure that they understand that their behavior has consequences. A strong work ethic instilled early on is absolutely essential if our kids are to succeed as adults, and while this is true for everyone, it is doubly true for individuals with social disabilities.
I look forward to reading and reviewing Atypical. I just purchased it so the review will be soon. If the book comes anywhere close to being as funny, honest and hopeful as Mr. Saperstein is in person, it will be an incredible read.
Update 12/1/2011: I highly recommend Jesse’s book, Atypical. He is a fascinating individual with an honest and unique voice. He displays a sharp wit, but also moments of vulnerability. This book is an excellent and quick read that sheds a good deal of light on what it is like to grow up with Asperger’s.