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Asperger Syndrome and Autism

tiny book gif Gardening for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Special Educational Needs
by Natasha Etherington
(Jessica Kingsley Publishing)
This inspiring and motivating book presents a thoughtful yet highly practical program that offers a wealth of opportunities to complement the indoor curriculum with outdoor gardening-based activities. In order that participants gain the maximum benefit from what is on offer, the author stresses the benefits of adopting the mindfulness approach with its focus on ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’ throughout. This ‘being in the present moment’ helps engender a feeling of connectedness with an activity, with others and with the environment.
    The program begins with digging and this then sets the scene for all that follows, be it identifying parts of a plant, planting, seasonal cooking, a game, art activity or sensory exploration. There are chapter specifically relating to ASD learners, another on adaptations and considerations for wheelchair users, one that considers ADHD in particular, as well as one focusing on children within a wide range of developmental (dis)ability. There is also a chapter on gardens for children who suffer from allergies of various kinds. Throughout though, the focus is on the importance of considering the specific needs of each individual child.
   ‘The garden,’ Etherington says ‘is everything… not only a sensory gym, but also a cerebral and physical gym.’ If teachers, and other who share in the education and care of the young take up the wealth of possibilities offered here, the children in their care (whether or not they have special needs)would indeed benefit enormously.
(reviewed by Jill Bennett)
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Speak, Move, Play and Learn with Children on the Autism Spectrum
by Lois Jean Brady, America X Gonzalez,
Maciej Zawadzki & Corinda Presley
(Jessica Kingsley Publishers)
Written by a team of two language experts and two occupational therapists, this is a great book to dip into for fresh ideas, or new possibilities for activities when working with children with Autism. It gives helpful and succinct explanations of what the book is about and how it can be used to support communication, co-ordination and sensory integration skills. It highlights why these skills are so important in order to promote independence and confidence to enable children with Autism to develop necessary and essential life skills.
    It is a book that speaks with an enthusiastic voice and encourages readers to be motivated to try new ideas. There is something for everyone involved in caring for and teaching children with Autism. Practical ideas are offered that are fun and engaging including chapters on cooking, one focusing on sensory engagement, another with a musical focus Useful suggestions are given with each activity to match different needs and abilities. The resources recommended are easily available. The book provides a handy bank of ideas and activities with the purpose of each activity made clear with easy to follow directions.
    Definitely a book to have at hand when planning activities in school or at home.
(reviewed by Pat Winson and Jill Bennett)
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tiny book gif Asperger Syndrome, the Universe and Everything
by Kenneth Hall
(Jessica Kingsley)
If you've ever wondered what goes on in the mind of someone with Asperger Syndrome, you'll love this book because it's written by a 10 year old boy who has Asperger's himself. Kenneth gives a valuable insight into how he feels and the reasons for some of his behaviour. For instance, at one time he shook his head a great deal because he hated his hair touching his forehead so having his hair cut very short removed both the problem and the behaviour. He also describes some of the techniques which have helped him, including Applied Behaviour Analysis, and I found one of his most telling comments was "Kids who are different should not have to do things which are pointless just to be the same as other kids."
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You may also be interested in the following children's novel.

tiny book Blue Bottle Mystery
by Kathy Hoopman
(Jessica Kingsley)
When Ben and his friend, Andy, find an old blue bottle in the school grounds, life starts to change in mysterious ways. The resulting story is exciting enough to keep you turning the pages and so well written that it helps you understand what it feels like to have Asperger Syndrome like Ben. The subject matter and the clear, well-spaced print could prove particularly popular with children with special needs.
Ages 8 up
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