Anything But Typical
We don't know a whole lot about autism: how it develops, why it
is showing such a huge increase, perhaps most essentially what it
feels like. This is truly unfortunate. These days whenever someone
kills a lot of people one of the first questions asked is if the
person had autism. In too many people's minds autism spectrum and
aspbergers are becoming linked with violence and danger.
Jason, protagonist of Norah Raleigh Baskin's Anything But
Typical has been diagnosed with ASD (autism spectrum disorder). His
mother prefers NLD (nonverbal learning disorder) or PDD-NOS (pervasive
developmental disorder, non-specific). In Jason's words, "When
letters are put together, they can mean so much, and they can mean
nothing at all."
School can be quite the challenge for Jason. Neurotypicals (his
word for the nondiagnosed) can be difficult to understand. The school
librarian says he should show appreciation to a classmate. But how do
you show a feeling? Draw a picture? People get impatient while he
struggles to grasp the situation. The librarian makes things worse by
putting her hands on his shoulders. Jason has had a one on one aide
to help him with clues snd strategies through fifth grade. Now in
sixth grade he's on his own to navigate the noisy, complex known as
Jason enjoys writing and posting stories. He's become friends
with a girl who also uses the storyboard website. Then he realizes
that she will be attending a writers' conference his parents have
signed him up for. How can she still like him if she meets him in
I highly recommend this book, especially for folks who don't
understand that kids like Jason are far more at risk of being hurt by
neurotypicals than the other way around.
On a personal note, I have a sister who has brain damage. Growing up
I saw so many cruel things that neurotypicals did to a kid without a
mean bone in her body. I don't see things getting better. That is one
of the most important challenges of the 21st century.
A great big shout out goes out to Sharon Brady, special education
director extraordinaire, and the duprrb team she has assembled. Their
trailer is one of my favorite places on the face of this earth. Way
to be AWESOME!
Julia Emily Hathaway
Sent from my iPod