Saturday, November 29, 2014

‘Getting a Life with Asperger’s’ by Jesse A. Saperstein

Book cover: Getting a Life with Asperger's by Jesse A. Saperstein. Image depicts a computer-game figure attempting to leap from a beam to a higher-elevation point.
The greatest take-away message for me in Getting a Life with Asperger’s, Lessons Learned on the Bumpy Road to Adulthood (Perigee, 2014) is author Jesse A. Saperstein’s emphasis on people with autism being “role model[s] from day one.”

“Society is aware of us as having a disability, and the characteristics deemed to be negative have more lasting power. Let’s collectively step up to the plate to show that our positive characteristics may eventually overshadow any rocky moments.”

Saperstein envisions himself as a Catcher in the Rye for his younger peers, referencing a mission by J.D. Salinger’s character Holden Caulfield, to save young children from getting too close to a cliff. And Saperstein writes with direct, first-hand experience about that metaphorical cliff.

Diagnosed at 14, Saperstein treated his Asperger’s as a scapegoat for inappropriate behavior. But when he reached adulthood, the consequences were far more serious and consequential than a “detention or scolding.”

As a young adult, Saperstein found himself living in his room at his parents’ house, a self-described “social pariah.” He’d just completed a 2,174-mile hike along the Appalachian Trail, but unlike on the trail, where each new day provided a “clean slate” with finish-line goal in sight, Saperstein faced the lingering effects of past social and behavioral mistakes.

Saperstein offers readers a buffet-banquet of insights into navigating adult challenges, including job interviews, romantic relationships, when and how to disclose Asperger’s syndrome. It’s worthwhile reading, presented in an engaging, humorous and personable style.

Disclosure of material connection: My taxes support my public library’s acquisition of this and other resources. I consider the access I enjoy to be a “priceless” return on my investment.

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