About the Authors
Patricia Bashe and Barbara Kirby are both parents of children with Asperger Syndrome. They met through a website that Kirby developed called OASIS, which stands for Online Asperger Syndrome Information and Support.
Bashe holds a master degree in Special Education and serves as director of the David Center, a non-profit organization in Long Island that helps families facing autism spectrum disorders. Kirby maintains the OASIS website and works as an advocate with the Asperger Syndrome Coalition of the United States and Homes for Independence, an organization helping autistic people own their own homes.
Seven years ago, Bashe and Kirby collaborated on a comprehensive guidebook for parents of children with Asperger Syndrome. The 2005 edition is a completely revised and updated version of their original 2001 book.
About the Book
The OASIS Guide to Asperger Syndrome is easily the best and most complete book ever written on this subject. If you have to buy just one book on children with Asperger Syndrome, you want this one.
The OASIS book is well written and interesting enough to hold your attention, if you just want to read the entire work. Yet it can also serve as a comprehensive reference book for parents and clinicians. The vast index enables you to find specific information very quickly. The index is so precise that you can look up side effects of drugs under a particular name brand or specific comorbidities such as Attention Deficit Disorder.
Some of the literature about Asperger Syndrome presents the disorder romantically: Aspies are babies who read, their disorder is a mystical gift, etc. Bashe and Kirby have none of that. Instead, they present Asperger Syndrome in a matter-of-fact way, describing specific symptoms and situations and how to manage them. They write about intellectual giftedness as if it were another challenge for parents.
Nevertheless, the authors are extremely sympathetic to children with Asperger Syndrome. If parents become frustrated and challenged, their children do too, only more so. By the time you finish reading this book, you are ready to become an activist for these children yourself.
The book has three sections: Asperger Syndrome, Taking Control, and The Whole Child. The first section presents descriptions and definitions of the disorder, and its proper diagnosis. Section 2 covers management issues, medications and treatments, and teaches parents how to use Applied Behavior Analysis at home. The “Whole Child” chapters describe social, emotional and academic issues, and include sections on adolescence and transition to adulthood. One unique aspect of the book is the inclusion of suggestions and comments from over a thousand parents who answered the authors’ informal survey on the OASIS website.
The advice in the book is exceedingly practical. One example is the section about the gluten-free casein-free diet, which involves eliminating dairy and wheat products. This difficult regime causes considerable hassle to the entire family. Bashe and Kennedy conclude that while the diet seems to help some children and may be worth trying because it does no real harm, it probably will not produce dramatic results. Of the hundreds of parents in the OASIS survey who tried the diet, very few saw noticeable improvements in their children.
The authors have no magic cure at this time for children with Asperger Syndrome; however, they remain optimistic and upbeat. Bashe and Kirby’s Guide manages to live up to its subtitle, which is to provide “Advice, Support, Insight and Inspiration” for parents of children with Asperger Syndrome.
Bashe, Patricia Romanowski and Barbara Kirby. The Oasis Guide to Asperger Syndrome. New York: Crown Publishers, 2005.