Monday, March 21, 2011

A Resource for ALL Middle School Girls

The middle school years are by far the most difficult for adolescents and this is no exception for those on the autism spectrum.  I have been highly impressed with a teenager that was able to write about her experiences being on the autism spectrum and middle school life.  Haley Moss, was diagnosed with autism at the age of three.  Her parents were not given the highest of outlooks for her future but she has defied odds and become an amazing inspiration to others.  As an artist and writer she is sharing with others her talent and experiences. 

This book is a great resource for girls on and off the spectrum.  I truly believe some of her 'real life' strategies can be invaluable for adolescents.  "Middle School: The Stuff Nobody Tells You About" goes through many of the unspoken rules of school that are so difficult and often not taught.  I plan on using it for my own daughter when I reach that milestone with her because I think it is a perfect guidebook for parents. 

Haley's book is easy to read for parents and teenagers/tweens.  It is broken down into things that worked for her, perspectives of teachers along with other input from other adolescent girls with autism. 

Some of the highlights of the book:
  • Different teachers are easier to understand because of the way they teach; for example having a preference for teachers that use more visual information.
  • How to handle overwhelming situations both socially and sensory-wise such as the cafeteria and hallways.
  • Haley shows how to use daily schedules and set up morning routines to make the day start well.  She discusses how she prepares certain things the night before to make it easier in the morning.
  • Unspoken rules of friendships.  How to fit in with others and know enough about current 'fads' to be able to hold conversations outside of interest areas.
  • Understanding slang and the intentions of peers.  She also discusses peer pressure, stress and social influences through the Internet. 
  • What conversational topics to use; how to ask questions to start a discussion but not asking too many questions.
  • Haley often brings up reminders for girls to remember to be prepared for their period.  This is a very difficult time for all girls and she has some great tips on how to deal with this life-changing event. 
  • Great organizational strategies especially for preparing for tests, homework and long term projects.  Along with great tips for making the locker less of a headache.
I only touched on a few great topics in this book.  I really think it is a wonderful book for girls about to take the plunge into middle school or those already in the trenches.  I am excited to learn more about Haley Moss and look forward to seeing what other successes are on the horizon for her.  See Haley and her mother on CNN here.  She also has amazing artwork that definitely resembles Japanese anime; many individuals on the spectrum have an interest in anime.  Learn more about her art at HaleyMossArt 

Thank you Haley for this amazing resource!


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