At the third Annual Pivotal Response Treatment Conference, Lynn Koegel, Director of Autism Services at the Koegel Autism Center, told the following story: “I saw a high schooler just last week. Her dad was telling me he had told his daughter that she was on the spectrum and she said, ‘What is that?’ And he said, ‘Well, you know sometimes you have a little bit of trouble communicating, sometimes you have a little bit of trouble in social situations.’ And she looked at him and said, ‘Well, then, doesn’t everybody have autism?’”
This anecdote brought down the house as it poignantly illustrates how perceptive a teen on the autism spectrum can be. Until now there hasn’t been much help for people in that age range, but Koegel and her co-author Claire LaZebnik have decided to help remedy that with their new book Growing Up on the Spectrum: A Guide to Life, Love, and Learning for Teens and Young Adults with Autism and Asperger’s. The book, which will be published by Viking on March 23, is a handy, encouraging guide that will help the adolescent on the spectrum and his or her family get through what can be difficult years for anyone.
Koegel and LaZebnik previously teamed to write Overcoming Autism: Finding the Answers, Strategies, and Hope that Can Transform a Child’s Life (2004). About that book Publishers Weekly wrote, “Encouraging but realistic, the authors’ humane, proactive tactics toward improving autistic behavior will interest parents willing to take a labor-intensive, teaching approach to their child’s disorder.”
Growing Up on the Spectrum takes that program into the teenage years, providing insight into topics like making friends, romantic and sexual relationships, schooling, life beyond the school years, and issues that come in daily life, such as managing modern technology. What makes the book particularly unique is its dual perspective. Koegel brings years of clinical experience and her background as one of the founders (along with her husband Robert Koegel) of one of the premier autism clinics in the country. LaZebnik brings not only her novelist’s keen eye to the writing, but also a wealth of personal experience as one of her four children, Andrew, has autism. Even sixteen-year-old Andrew has his say, providing the book with illustrations and adding some first-person essays.
Lynn Koegel says, “For parents and educators of teenagers and young adults on the spectrum, the question is no longer simply how do they teach the child, but the much more complicated question of how do they teach the child to be his or her own teacher.”