Fifteen Things They Forgot To Tell You About Autism. A Graph Review

A Graph Review.         80-89 graph points Definitely gets points all in the 80s. Nearly broke through to 90 but couldn’t quite give that all-time high.    Almost regret it!!!


Fifteen things they forgot to tell you about autism.

By Debby Elley,

cover fifteen things coverCo- founder of AUKIDS Magazine, with Tori Houghton


Jessica Kingsley Publishing.        Paperback.  £12.99

published spring 2018                      978 1 78592 438 5

Books on this subject are coming thick and fast these days.  This is not a complaint as the more information and practical help that gets into public awareness is surely much the better for everyone.  My problem is that there is so much more to choose from that time allows only a fraction of the books to be looked at and some read and reviewed.

I could list numerous titles that have been popular, informative and no doubt sold well but it is safer for me to refer you to:   Books Education.   website for a whole range of publishers and Educational books, or go to Jessica Kingsley site for a good range of a single publisher.

Let’s get to grips with  Fifteen Things……:

I have got to page 40 of 209 pages of text and several more of glossary and further information items.   Can I call this a ‘Joyous Book on Autism’?   Already I love the style, the humour, the simplicity and the skill of Debby Elley in her understanding and explanation of autism. This book already ought to be a staple read for parents and clinicians alike.  Debby Elley is the mother of autistic twins is well versed in the subject!!

Author of ‘Uniquely Human’,  by Dr.Barry Prizant.human pic………., another book I highly recommend, says frequently that if you can’t quite find the answer to a child’s difficulties then talk to the parent as they are likely to have at least a part solution, directly or indirectly.  I have no doubt badly paraphrased this.  I mention it as in Debbie Elley we seem to have a parent who is able to talk sensibly and oh so knowledgeably on autism.     Roll on ‘Pick & Mix and Autism Sundae Dessert!!  in all conversations and courses ( read her book for explanations…)

See page 45, first sentence:         “If we shore up their self-belief, value their differences and stop trying to make them be like everyone for 40 seconds, we’ll see that we have some very original thinkers on our hands.

And page  114:    ‘ Its important to remember that a child’s view of the world begins and ends with their parents.  Your expectations become theirs.  If you are disappointed in them, they will be even more downcast about themselves.’

I am not going to  quote the page but see also page 142 on the need for ‘re-telling and adding the reason why….. ie fully explain the logic of ‘why’ something should or should not be done…….      Not  a proper explanation but  me encouraging you to read the book.

This book most certainly speaks to parents, especially those that are trying to understand any diagnosis on an ASD child.  It may confirm their suspicions or be a shock and have need of support in putting professional words and practice into common usage and action.    Having said this, I believe that now, those working closely with children and families in some professional way have the opportunities through training and mentoring to work with sensibility and understanding.  Also, dare I say it, on the supportive approach parents and families require for helping children develop to the maximum.   Finding the support system may still be difficult as help is  spread much too thinly, but it is there.  There also many parent-started and run (with professionals too) charities all over the country offering help, support and most of all, a sense of community.  You might need to search a little that suits you and your family.  The beauty of today is that they can be web-based so available nationally, even internationally, as well as physically local.

I finished reading this book in good spirits.  As Debby says right at the beginning, she is a ‘positive’ person and her aim is to clarify terms and activities into understandable practice. as well as developing techniques to help reach potential.

She is always positive, fun to read, imaginative and humorous in style.  She is obviously serious about the subject and the Aukids magazine she, and her co-founder Tori Houghton run and continue to look for offering help and support to parents of autistic children.   I must mention that they have autistic workers in their charity office from whom they ask advice on subjects from their perspective.

Any criticisms?   Well, maybe that although she admits times can be difficult (numerous examples given) her skill in humour and ‘positivity’ seems to slide over the hard times.  But, there you go, it’s attitude of mind.  Proving that her mindset is the way to go.  See a problem, sort it or seek advice from trusted adviser……. and stick to a positive attitude and problem solving by using as many ‘outside boxes’ as you can find…….And proving that my glass is half-empty; however it is beginning to look half-full after reading this.

A fun, exciting, informative guide to autism and emphasising the fact that absolutely ‘everyone is different’.

I haven’t seen the physical magazine, just the website; but it looks an ideal magazine to come  through the post!!

see other Books Education listings


The Reason I Jump, A Graph Review

A Graph Review,      55 with highpoints 65

bodies graphThe Reason I Jump

By Naoki Higashida
Introduced by David Mitchell
Translated by KA Yoshida & David Mitchell

the reason i jump cover2
Paperback       £8.99          978 78144477677 5

Published 2014         by Sceptre
There are neurotypical mindsets and those that are not.   In the USA (may be wider, sorry not known to me) this is reckoned to relate to 1 in 55 who may be non-neurotypical or assessed as on the autism spectrum.  That is; synapse connections are not within a norm.  The variation in synapse connections can be massive so the degree/range of ability is  huge.

There are specific clues that help to recognise the condition but of course, there are hugely differing degrees.  The scientific understanding of autism is growing slowly but in the last few years there has been remarkable progress in understanding the problems and the development of various techniques in improving and overcoming difficulties.  Small steps are leading to big changes in outcome.

Progress has been made but this is not about the research or the developing methods of helping those who educate (from the smallest to widest sense).  This is a review of a best-selling book by Naoki Higashida, a young man, thirteen when he wrote it, first published in Japan in 2007.  His ability to communicate in speech was severely limited.  Conversation was a major hazard and when the nerves went, so would the words.

There is an Introduction by author David Mitchell eloquently setting a scene that many a parent or carer/teacher will recognise around their autistic charge and explaining how this book came to be translated and published.

An alphabet grid, a home-made qwerty board, a mother determination and now a computer keyboard  freed Naoki fom a serious inability to communicate and eventually enabled him to share his world.  Since this book he has continued writing and has been published again.

The short Preface by Naoki sets the scene and you are off on the series of 57 brief questions to which he gives his answers.  Always revealing and balanced with a perception that belies his age of thirteen.  There is always an awareness of the difficulties of the personal (mind and body) world he lives in and it’s relationship to the world that the majority live in.  Families and carers may recognise some questions as theirs and others they may feel safe in knowing the answers to but throughout and from each they will receive another small piece in a jigsaw, or a window will be opened a little more by the answer.

Interestingly, autistic people see/relate to specifics of something and then generalise whilst neurotypical see generality first then focus down to specifics. Illustrating how different their view of the world starts with and then may falter at almost any point towards the general end of the scale.  The opposite of a neurotypical person who sees the general and narrows down to specifics. There is a final, beautifully written short story and very brief Afterword.

Part-sample: — Q25: What’s the reason you jump?
There follows a nice descriptive answer culminating with the fact that his body feels lighter when he jumps and ‘the motion makes me want to change into a bird and fly off to some faraway place.’
‘But…………’. Followed by a two sentence paragraph that may sums up a weight of emotion.

I could pick out little quotes but it would not display the style and content, a cross between simple matter of fact and fascinating description. The book moves along from question to answer and gradually fills out the actions and foibles of autism with high degrees of explanation. (with the caveat that no two people will be exactly the same though generalities are very likely).

This is a personal as well as sympathetic to others, account of his world, feelings and struggles.  Above all we see the strengths of this young man and his determination to succeed.  This is a short book, covering some of the general issues we may come across in an imaginative fashion.  An impression of continuous struggle with the day to day difficulties of managing autism.  Naoki gives the lie to autism being an inability of emotion, rather it is the struggle to contain oneself,  where emotion may kick in at any time through a flashing memory connection  (‘meltdown’)   or perhaps the distraction of sight and sound clashing with the inner struggle to communicate and control mind and body.  That inner struggle is a tiring, all consuming activity that deserves our support and patience.

There are now many books on autism and Aspergers aimed at helping parents and families, carers and teachers in practical and educational matters as well as research and schemes. Some by parents or family, it is good to find one of the few books by one who has the condition.
Any sympathetic reader would do well to read this book and any less-than -sympathetic  really ought to.

A couple of autistic authors writing on the subject come to mind:
Temple Grandin: One of the first autistic authors now having written numerous titles over many years. Personal as well as many on animals and relationships. Her best known titles: ‘Emergence‘, & ‘The Autistic Brain’

Similar to ‘Reason I jump’ but more and wider range questions with longer answers by an Aspergers author and YouTuber, also a public speaker: Alex Olinkiewicz : In My Mind   with DrRichard O’Connell writing Alex’s answers ‘verbatim’ for the book. Published in USA 2014. This author was older than Naoki when the book was written.

For short videos on the subject  of aspects of autism it is worth visiting the following website:        

A wide selection of books may be found on:  Books Education website