Book review: Something Different about Dad

This lively and informative comic-strip user's guide will be of interest to any family affected by Asperger's syndrome, writes Michael Fitzpatrick.

Something Different About Dad: How To Live With Your Asperger’s Parent

Kirsti Evans and John Swogger

Jessica Kingsley Publishers

ISBN: 978-1-84905-114-9

This lively and informative comic-strip user’s guide will be of interest to any family affected by Asperger’s syndrome, writes Michael Fitzpatrick.

Written by autism consultant Kirsti Evans and illustrated by John Swogger, Something Different About Dad tells the story of Sophie and Daniel, whose dad Mark has Asperger’s, a condition on the autistic spectrum.

Through detailed accounts of episodes – such as a school parents’ evening at which Mark behaves inappropriately and a family party that culminates in an angry meltdown – the authors explore the difficulties of communication and emotional understanding, anxiety and inflexibilty, that often arise in people with Asperger’s.

With humour and sensitivity, they show how simple practical measures – such as advance planning, keeping to a timetable and reducing background noise – can help to avoid problems and ease the strains of family life.

They also show how the children come to appreciate the benefits of having a father who is reliable, punctual and has an obsessional interest in buses.

Perhaps I am out of touch with the world of comics, but I sometimes experienced sensory overload as a result of pages densely packed with pictures and a surfeit of cramped hand-writing.

This book is a valuable supplement to the pioneering National Autistic Society guide books for families, My Brother Is Different and I’m A Teenager – Get Me Out of Here!

Michael Fitzpatrick has a son with autism and is author of Defeating Autism: A Damaging Delusion.

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