Eating an Artichoke
208 pages, 6 x 9
Release Date:01 Feb 2000
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Eating an Artichoke

A Mother's Perspective on Asperger Syndrome

Jessica Kingsley Publishers
During a routine parent-teacher conference in November 1991, Echo Fling was told by her son's teacher that his behaviour in class was `not normal'. After two years at the pre-school, five-year-old Jimmy had failed to make any friends, had recently started to act aggressively towards his classmates, and was beginning to react violently to any changes in his routine. Echo was not taken completely by surprise: she had suspected for some time that her son was different from other children. Over the next five years, she and her husband accompanied Jimmy to doctors, medical specialists, learning consultants and psychologists. Finally, at the age of ten, Jimmy was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome.This is the book that Echo Fling needed when she first set out to have Jimmy diagnosed, and it will enable parents and teachers to understand and help other children with Asperger Syndrome.
'In this meaningful and heartfelt book, the author clearly explains Asperger Syndrome and its impact on children and their families. She disscuses the daily joys and challenges of living with a person with Asperger Syndrome in such detail that one almost feels part of the family. This book is a must read for parents and teachers who are interested in learning more about Asperger Syndrome.'- Contact'This is a fascinating account of the tortuous path a mother had to follow in order to learn what was wrong with her son. It begins with the author being summoned to her son's nursery school to be met with the ominous words: 'I think that I need to tell you that I feel something isn't right with your son and you may want to consider having Jimmy evaluated by a specialist.' Jimmy at the age of five, having spent two years at nursery school, had failed to make friends, had started to behave aggressively towards classmates and was beginning to react violently if any of his routine was changed. The teacher's comments reinforced the mother's suspicions that she had a child that took different cues from his environment, whose conversation was peppered with obscure extracts from his favourite film and who had a frenetic obsession to acquire everything in sight that interested him. Echo Fling explains the reasons for writing this book: to record how she learnt to cope, and how it took five years before this American family were finally told what was wrong with Jimmy The book ends with a sensitive and practical narrative of how Jimmy's family learned to manage, how the author learned about Asperger Syndrome and practiced strategies, based partly on trial and error, partly on knowledge. The enormous stresses on Jimmy's family, and their struggles are potent reminders that the earlier the recognition and intervention, the better the chances for developing productive lives and independent living.' - Seen and Heard'One of the most poignant moments in this truly wonderful book occurs when Echo's son, Jimmy, who has Asperger Syndrome, says to his mother, You promised to help me learn what things mean in life, and I promised to help you learn what life means. This profound statement captures the essence of Asperger Syndrome and should give all who live and work with individuals who have this exceptionality a sense of joy, hope and the potential for accomplishment. In this meaningful and heartfelt book, the author clearly explains Asperger Syndrome and its impact on children and their families. She discusses the daily joys and challenges of living with a person with Asperger Syndrome in such detail that one almost feels a part of the family. This book is a must read for parents and teachers who are interested in learning more about Asperger Syndrome.' - Brenda Smith Myles'For clinicians and educators, this book is a valuable source of insight into the challenges faced by the families of the children with whom they work. For parents, this book may simply be an inspiration.'- Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society'An inside look at Asperger Syndrome in the life of Jimmy Fling, a boy who begins life speaking in dialogue memorized from his beloved videotapes. His mother recounts her daily efforts to teach Jimmy the language of love and friendship. The world has always had Jimmys: with Echo Fling as our guide we can begin to understand the sometimes baffling, sometimes heartbreaking, yet always human challenges they face. A beautiful book.' - Catherine Johnson, Trustee of National Alliance for Autism Research'Jimmy Fling was three years old when his preschool teacher suggested that his mother take him to a specialist for an evaluation; six years later he was finally diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, a form of autism. Jimmy's mother, Echo Fling, begins her journal with the devastating sentence from the teacher: I have been in this business for many years and based on my experience, I think I need to tell you that I feel something isn't right with your son. Fling's own fears were thus confirmed. She had noticed that Jimmy had no friends, was aggressive toward other children, didn't know his classmates' names, spouted dialogue from videos rather than conversing, and adhered compulsively to the same routines. She goes on to chronicle what has been an all-too-familiar litany of problems for parents of children with special needs: misdiagnoses, inadequate insurance, difficulties finding knowledgeable medical care and educational support, cruelties of other children. When Jimmy was finally correctly diagnosed by a pediatric neurologist, Fling learned that Asperger Syndrome is characterized by impairment in social functioning; obsessive interests and rigidity; ability to use language to communicate yet poor social and pragmatic skills, repetitive motor mannerisms, and no peer relationships. Coping and teaching strategies Fling had devised over the years with various therapists were validated, and Jimmy is doing well today. A modest and informative account.'- Kirkus Reviews'An extraordinary book, it is written as an autobiographical account and is excellent if read as an autobiography but is so much more. It gives an accessible and informative insight into Asperger syndrome. On an emotional level the account is a moving depiction of the struggle life can be, while highlighting the many positive facets of living with a son with Asperger syndrome. The author manages to integrate humour into her writing while never belittling the serious nature of the subject. It will appeal to parents and professionals, both for the valuable information about Asperger syndrome and for the honest depiction of the thoughts and feelings of a parent. As a perspective on Asperger syndrome it is stimulating and encouraging, presented in an intelligent and clear style which lends itself to the reader. This read will be of value to any parent of a child with Asperger syndrome, and any professional who has an interest in the field. It raises issues that are common to many families of children with an autistic spectrum disorder. As a reflection on living with Asperger syndrome it is a useful guide; as a human story it is moving and open.'- Communication'Eating an Artichoke is a straightforward journalistic account by a mother determined to surmount the many hurdles she faces as a parent-advocate of a son with Asperger's Syndrome. This book will be of interest to parents and educators who face similar challenges in their efforts to provide positive environmental situations and facilitative learning strategies to address the lifelong challenges posed by this illness.'- Psychiatric Services'This book... enlightening and encouraging parents with similar experiences, and it has great value from this perspective.' Contemporary Psychology, APA Review of Books
Echo R. Fling is director of Communications in the Office of Marketing and College Relations at Thomas Edison State College. Prior to joining the College, she was President and a founding board member of ASC-US (Asperger Syndrome Coalition of the United States, Inc.). She lives in New Jersey with her husband and two children. Echo is a twenty-year veteran journalist, having worked in both the print and broadcast genres, and has taken extensive leave from her writing career to advocate for AS awareness. Her son Jimmy was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome in 1996.
Foreword, by Tony Attwood. Preface. Acknowledgments. 1. There's Something Wrong with Your Son. 2. Looking Back. 3. Now What Do We Do? 4. Back to Basics. 5. Kitchen Classroom. 6. Reality Check. 7. Away at School. 8. Just a Lonely Boy. 9. Drugs? 10. Out to Lunch. 11. Light at the End of the Tunnel. 12. The Heart of my Artichoke. 13. Cha Cha Cha Changes. 14. Making Sense of the Sensory. 15. Holla-daze. 16. Of Things Motoric. 17. My Girly. 18. Finding His Passion - and Beyond. Resources.
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