Talk to Me, Play with Me


Talk to Me
Heather Jones
Jessica Kingsley Publishers
Talking to a person or people rather than at them is something that comes naturally to the majority of us. Not so, those who have Asperger syndrome. They need help to learn the art of conversation and how this might be done is what the author of this book demonstrates. Jessica Jones writes from a wealth of practical experience: she has a son, now a young adult, who has Asperger syndrome and language impairment. Her outline of what she calls ‘conversational therapy’, the approach she has used as described here, to enable her son to learn the give and take of talk, is both inspirational and uplifting.
Essentially, the book is divided into two sections. The first entitled ‘Working on Conversation’ states that it is never too late to start the process and that once a child is aware of his/her condition it should be talked about in a straightforward manner. We learn about the point system she used, the effectiveness of a diary as conversation catalyst and the importance of using ‘why, who, what, when, where and how questions to keep conversations going.
She stresses the importance of asking open questions to develop meaningful conversations and reminds readers that the skill of conversational turn taking has to be taught to aspies, again providing personal examples. Here she suggests something that is now commonplace in most primary schools during circle times, the use of a particular object, referred to here as a ‘talking bauble’, that signifies the speaker.
A variety of conversation starters are suggested as well as the use of games and puzzles and the importance of allowing silence during a conversation. Using mind maps as conversation enhancers is also discussed and I’m pleased to see the importance of stories as another focus for talk.
The second part of the book deals with the development of social and life skills and becoming independent. There are useful chapters on making friends, coping with social situations such as parties and youth groups and how to cope with authority figures. The use of mind maps is revisited,


this time as facilitators when embracing practical life skills such as shopping, feeding yourself etc., as well as a means for the development of abstract skills – maturity, independence, sociability and resilience.
Learning through pet care, cooking, taking on responsibility, organizing ones life, money management, preparing for job interviews, learning to drive and starting work are all discussed in succinct chapters and as with all the other themes, the author gives a set of very helpful tips in conclusion.
Heather Jones includes in an appendix, a chart through which those who want to document the change in their own child/ren can do so, thus maintaining a record of growth and a mark of the achievement of milestones. Jamie, the author’s son clearly made tremendous progress and she feels it is important that others have a way to see progression too.
All in all, a very helpful, empowering and affirming book for parents and others working with children who need help in communicating.
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The Asperkid’s Game Plan
Jennifer Cook O’Toole
Jessica Kingsley Publishers
This is a companion volume to the author’s excellent The Asperkid’s Launch Plan and is another veritable treasure trove of ideas, this time over one hundred engaging, purposeful play activities to use with young aspies, all of them designed to make learning fun.
There are activities for team building – something aspies have to work hard at, activities to develop listening skills, activities to help in the development of relationships and emotional awareness, others to encourage flexible thinking and problem solving. All are written by a mother and educationalist who herself has aspergers; they are so enjoyable they can also be used with neuro-typical children.
Understanding the minds of young aspie learners and knowing what motivates them is what we need to try to do. This insightful book goes a considerable way into facilitating this.
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