It should be in stores and available online today
Growing Up on the Spectrum: A Guide to Life, Love, and Learning for Teens and Young Adults with Autism and Asperger’s is the second book that Dr. Lynn Kern Koegel and I have written together. Our first was Overcoming Autism: Finding the Answers, Strategies, and Hope That Can Transform a Child’s Life, and we’re incredibly proud of how many people have told us the book has been a source of information and comfort to them.
My oldest son was diagnosed with autism when he was two and a half and at some point along the way, a friend suggested I go see Dr. Koegel who was running a clinic at the University of Santa Barbara with her husband Dr. Robert Koegel. (That clinic has since been named after them: it’s now the Koegel Autism Center.) The story of our first meeting is described in Overcoming Autism: basically my husband and I were blown away by Lynn’s personal brilliance and by the effectiveness of their pivotal response teaching behavioral approach.
Thanks to her guidance (and the hard work of many other wonderful professionals), our son is doing great today. He’s an amazing kid and a fully mainstreamed high school junior who’s currently trying to figure out which colleges to apply to.
Back when he was still young, Lynn discovered that I was a writer (a rather unfulfilled writer at the time) and asked if I could help them rewrite their clinic brochure. I did. A year or so later, she asked me if I’d have any interested in co-authoring an entire book with her. I did. Together we wrote Overcoming Autism. The expertise in the book is all hers, but I was able to add some personal experiences as the mother of a kid on the spectrum and help with the general writing and presentation.
I can’t speak for Lynn, but, for me, the collaboration was a pure joy. I’ve heard a lot of stories of people trying to partner on a big project and ending up resentful and estranged. (Actually, it also happens every time one of my kids has to buddy up on a school project.) The fact that Lynn and I finished up eager to write another book together is a tribute to her kind, supportive, and generous nature.
This new book arose out of our original intention to put out a new edition of Overcoming Autism which has sold steadily since first being published. Without any special promotion or publicity, OA‘s reputation has blossomed. Word of mouth has been strong, and the publishing house expressed interest in our editing it, adding a new chapter or two, so they could re-issue it.
But when we started putting down on paper the things we wanted to add to the book–mostly information about older kids on the spectrum, since we had pretty much stopped at the elementary school years–the editor realized there was a whole new book there. So we put together a proposal and Growing Up on the Spectrum fell into place.
We wanted to create a guidebook for parents of older kids on the spectrum. Very little has been written about the high school, college, and adult years for these kids, many of whom still need varying degrees of support, but who want to be independent and self-sufficient–and whose parents want to help them get there.
So that’s what we’ve tried to do in GUOTS: find ways for parents to support their older kids as they move out into the world. Or, as we put it in the book, the question is no longer “how do I teach my kid this or that?” but “how do I teach my kid not to need me to teach him anymore?”
We offer advice for all the big milestones of life after high school: going off to college, getting a job, finding a safe home–even pursuing romance.
But the thing about this book that I’m proudest of is that my son contributed his own wonderful, honest personal essays to the book and also illustrated it. On this project, I got to collaborate with two people I love and respect. How lucky am I?