Book Review: Aspertools by Harold Reitman

I’m going to start this off with a little bit of backstory about myself. I have not been officially diagnosed with anything. I haven’t had access to the right kind of doctors to ever be diagnosed. I am, however, definitely not neurotypical. Had I of been able to see the right doctors I would most certainly have been diagnosed with Aspergers at some point during my childhood. Lacking an “official” diagnosis I don’t generally talk about it but I do consider myself to have Aspergers. 
My daughter, currently 18 months old, also isn’t neurotypical. She has Dandy Walker syndrome andAgenesis of the Corpus Callosum. This means that parts of her brain are actually missing. They never formed in the early stages of my pregnancy the way they were supposed to. No one knows what causes Dandy Walker Syndrome. It is fairly rare. It’s also unpredictable. You can’t really tell how developmentally delayed a child with Dandy Walker will be. Some kids show little to no delays. Although they usually exhibit autistic like tendencies and in the past these children often were diagnosed as autistic. Other children are severely delayed. Some never walk. Some can never even sit up on their own. My daughter is somewhere in the middle. She will likely learn to walk but isn’t walking yet. She is slowly getting stronger and better at sitting up on her own. She isn’t talking yet but she seems to understand a lot. She still drinks baby formula from a bottle. She is sensitive to tastes and textures. So, she may always need the extra nutrition of the formula even when she is eating solids as well. Regardless of how quickly or if my daughter catches up to her peers, she will never be neurotypical. 

Because of both of these things I have read a lot of books about autism, Aspergers and other neurological disorders and learning disabilities. So, naturally when I saw a book called Aspertools available for review, I was interested. Hesitant…..but interested. 

Honestly, books about autism worry me because many present an image I don’t like. Many also encourage things I don’t agree with. They encourage forcing children who are different to pretend to not be different. They want to force and modify behavior that they don’t understand into behavior that makes sense to them. Instead of trying to understand the autistic children they want to change them. That isn’t what this book is about, luckily, but not knowing that at first I was hesitant about it going in. 

The author of this book, Dr. Harold Reitman, is not an expert on Autism or learning disabilities. He IS a doctor but not one that ever attended school for or practiced a type of medicine that dealt with neurology or learning/developmental disabilities. What he is is a parent of a daughter with Aspergers who was diagnosed in adulthood. Once he was aware of his daughter being autistic and of what that is like for her he realized how many mistakes he made as she was growing up. And he realized the way he should have handled certain situations. This book seems to be him trying to help other parents and autistic children themselves learn to handle those situations in the best way possible for both parties. 

There are some odd aspects to the book. Reitman uses the term “Aspie” to refer to anyone who isn’t neurotypical. He explains this but not in the clearest manner. Best I can tell he simply wanted to be sure people realized these tips could be useful with any non-neurotypical person and not just those with Aspergers or autism. But his explanation of using the term “Aspie” for those without Aspergers is confusing and I could see that throwing off some people reading the book and possibly even upsetting some who don’t like labels being thrown at them that they don’t feel apply. 

My only other complaint is that parts of the book are a bit repetitive and maybe even……long winded may be the right term to use. However, if you haven’t read very much about Aspergers and Autism then this may not be an issue for you at all. A little repetitiveness can be good to make sure a point is clear but if you have already read a lot about autism from the autistic perspective and know a lot of the information already then you may find yourself skimming over a lot. 

If you do start skimming be sure to read the chapter about meltdowns and all of the parts actually written by the author’s daughter. She is autistic and her full time career is as a tutor to students with learning disabilities. Her additions at the end of each chapter are to the point and interesting as they show the POV from both a person that understands what it’s like to be autistic well as someone teaching those who are autistic. 

I am not lost on the irony of my calling the book long winded when this review is pretty wordy itself. Believe me, I see the hypocrisy there. 🙂 I am trying to be as fair as I can be in this review, though and that just requires it to be a bit wordier than my book reviews usually are. 

Overall, the book is certainly worth reading, If it wasn’t I wouldn’t be reviewing it at all. I try to avoid out and out bad reviews by just not reviewing things I plain did not like. So, this book is certainly not bad. It has some truly interesting and informative sections. Just be aware that if you have already read all the books on Autism and Aspergers that you could find you won’t find very much new info here. You WILL find someone else’s perspective on things, though. Which can be interesting in it’s own right. 

And if you have never read a book about autism or Aspergers (or have only read the Autism Speaks fear mongering type stuff) then this book is an excellent place to start reading. I would definitely include this on a list of good books to start with if you or your child was recently diagnosed as being on the spectrum. 

You can buy Aspertools on Amazon or I imagine in most book stores and book selling websites. If you would like to purchase it on Amazon you can do so here: 
*i received this book for free from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*

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