Posted on April 03, 2014 in Autism
When I met Stephen Shore, I joked to him that I knew his book better than he did. After spending some time with me and doing a few presentations together, he had to agree! I don’t think I have an autobiography more dog-eared, highlighted, or worn than Beyond the Wall. I love so many things about this book but I think I am most drawn to it because in the pages of the book, Stephen starts as a student and becomes a teacher. I really like these two perspectives as it helps me related to learners I support and helps me to consider how a teacher on the spectrum might approach different situations.
What I love most about this book, however, is the humor. Stephen just has a way of making you smile even when explaining the most serious topics. He also has a way of patiently explaining the “why” of certain behaviors. Here is a passage where Stephen talks about why folks on the spectrum may avoid eye contact:
With most people, the nonverbal communication supplements or enhances the verbal communication. The two channels are processed together to give a deeper meaning to the communication. With people having autism and Asperger syndrome, however, the nonverbal component can be so difficult to decode that it interferes with getting meaning from the verbal channel. As a result, very little, if any communication occurs. (2003, p. 143)
This text has been invaluable to me working in schools, with families, and with young people and adults just being diagnosed.
**Idea for using this book: Tuck it in your beach bag this summer. It is easy to read, upbeat, and full of useful information. You will love it as much as any other paperback you bring on vacation.