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Facts About Aspergers and Interview with Julie Clark, author of Asperger’s in PINK

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Kid Companions- Chewelry: Facts About Aspergers and Interview with Julie Clark, author of Asperger’s in PINK

February 15, 2011

Facts About Aspergers and Interview with Julie Clark, author of Asperger’s in PINK

Asperger's in PINK is on
Asperger’s in PINK" is going to be both lighthouse and life raft for parents, giving them something to aim for and the way to get there. Parents of an AS child (whether girl or boy) who are trying to procure a diagnosis or who have a diagnosis but don’t know what to do next, Ms. Clark has provided you with a map. … Thanks to books like this and the parents and professionals who take the time to read them, many more little Aspergirls will have the future they deserve." From the Foreword by Rudy Simone, Asperger's self-advocate and author of Aspergirls and Asperger's on the Job.

A quote from the star of Asperger’s in PINK, Kristina, sets the tone of the book: “I feel like any other ordinary kid and I want to be respected like one.” In her section, Before You Begin, Clark writes about Aspergers (AS):” …both males and females share certain traits…lack of eye contact, inadequate social ability, strict adherence to routine, sensory integration difficulties, lack of empathy, intense interest in a limited number of subjects, rigidity, and a literal way of thinking.” However many people feel that this neurological condition does not have to be cured but has to be accommodated and respected.

Asperger's Syndrome is an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). It is only in 1994 that Asperger’s Syndrome was recognized in the United States and added to the DSM-IV.

In The Pattern of Abilities and Development of Girls with Asperger’s Syndrome by Dr. Tony Attwood - September 1999  we learn: “The boy to girl ratio for referrals for a diagnostic assessment is about ten boys to one girl. However, the evidence indicates that the actual ratio of diagnosed children is 4 boys to one girl (this is the same ratio as occurs with classic autism). Why are so few girls referred for a diagnosis? In general, boys tend to have a greater expression of social deficits, whereas girls tend to be relatively more able in social play and have a more even profile of social skills. Girls seem to be more able to follow social actions by delayed imitation because they observe other children and copy them, perhaps masking the symptoms of Asperger's Syndrome.”

Today in preparation for our tweetchat on The Coffee Klatch (TCK) :  Feb. 21st, 9am EST, Julie Clark, artist, mom of a daughter with Asperger’s and author of Asperger’s in PINK kindly answered a few questions.

1. What made you decide to write Asperger’s in PINK?
Julie Clark author is on Twitter
When Kristina was diagnosed, there wasn't very much out there regarding Asperger's - especially anything relating to having (or being) a daughter with it. I wanted to provide a voice for girls on the spectrum, and allowed our story to be that voice, as well as let others learn from our experiences. If our story prompts others to share theirs - to get the conversation going - I'd be thrilled.

2. Who was your target audience?
The hope is that the book would speak to families, to let them know there are other families out there who are walking the same path as they are. They may feel alone, but they are not alone. School professionals and extended family are another audience I'm trying to reach. By personalizing the journey, the hope is that they will gain a view into the world of families like ours, and know that many of us really are trying to do the best by our kids. But we also could use loving, (patient) guidance, and acceptance along the way.

3. How has your book been received?
There are many who have been so kind, and related their own stories to me. Some have expressed that it has been a huge help to know there are other moms (and dads) out there who are walking the same path, even if the steps don't exactly line up. But not everyone relates to the book, and they've made that pretty well known, and that is ok. We each have our own stories, right? What is important is that we choose to learn from each other.

4. Any comments/reviews that made your writing effort worthwhile?
At my first book signing, I had a mom come up, with tears in her eyes. I can't begin to tell you how humbled and touched I was at that moment. As I mentioned, there are those who have quite a differing opinion of what I present in the book. But meeting that mom reminded me of why I wrote the book in the first place, and reenergized me as to the mission behind the book - to increase understanding and awareness of girls on the autism spectrum, and to turn up the volume of the "pink end" of it.

5. Do you find that girls with Asperger’s now have more support in schools than when Kristina started?
That's hard to say. From a purely analytical perspective, knowledge of Asperger's has increased dramatically since then, but the truth is, it is still often misunderstood. So, overall, I'd like to say yes, but I do not think that applies everywhere.

Dr. Tony Atwood in “The Pattern of Abilities and Development of Girls with Asperger’s Syndrome” found that: “Girls are more able to verbalize their emotions and less likely to use physically aggressive acts in response to negative emotions such as confusion, frustration and anger. We do not know whether this is a cultural or constitutional characteristic but we recognize that children who are aggressive are more likely to be referred for a diagnostic assessment to determine whether the behavior is due to a specific developmental disorder and for advice on behavior management. Hence boys with Asperger’s Syndrome are more often referred to a psychologists or psychiatrist because their aggression has become a concern for their parents or schoolteacher.”

Also Dr. Atwood, in his paper about girls with Asperger's, noted that girls "are more motivated to learn and quicker to understand key concepts in comparison to boys with Asperger's Syndrome of equivalent intellectual ability." As such, he predicted that girls would fare better in the long run, if they're properly diagnosed.

There we have it – the magic words- ‘properly diagnosed', what Julie Clark and countless other parents are working so hard to receive. Julie says of the official diagnosis: “The combination lock opened, the fog lifted, darkness no longer enveloped us. .. At last, we knew what we needed to know to help Kristina grow."

We hope Julie’s book, our posts and The Coffee Klatch sessions will motivate parents to continue their struggle to but a name to their child’s unique behaviors and open the eyes and heart of others to accept and respect all individuals. As Julie Clark wrote: " What I am saying is that "the village" contributes to the growth or stagnation of all of us."

Purchase Asperger's in Pink at Future Horizons
Purchase Asperger's On the Job at Futrue Horizons

Where to connect with Julie Clark:
*JulieClarkArt Artisan Studio at ArtFire
*Asperger's in Pink on Facebook
*I'm on twitter
*Julie Clark Art, artisan studio on Facebook

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