Coaching People with Asperger’s Syndrome (Karnac, £20.99) is a specialist book disguised as a general manual by an author who has taught autistics all his life.
Regrettably, there are no pictures and the book is sometimes patronising and confusing but it can be helpful in other ways. Page 21 highlights a pitfall for many AS university students: “Some fail to make it through to the third year, torpedoed by the lack of structure.” Here, coaching can make a big difference.
In some places the book contradicts itself. Page 203 says, rightly, “avoid paraphrasing; use identical language”, because AS people find it hard to process language. But Tip 39 reads: “Say important things several times in different ways if you want them to be remembered.”
The best advice comes on page 121. The author had a pupil with 32 challenging behaviours. He ignored all but the mildest (repeatedly tying shoelaces) and after six weeks they’d all gone. He also says that families shouldn’t collude with AS children because it disempowers them.
On the other hand, the author’s New Ageism leads to some incredible remarks. He says meditation is “the single most important thing for you and the other person to learn.” Bizarre, too, is his admiration of Franz Mesmer, who was “definitely on to something.” Needs editing.