This is the kind of book I want more of -- it is a good, realistic and logical look at autism's spectrum partner, Asperger's Syndrome.
I, too am one who places psychotherapy on a plane with dental extraction without novacaine and major surgery without anesthesia of things I would not want to endure. Without going into detail, let's just say my experience has ranged from enduring cruelty to inept advice that proved as helpful as buying shoes for a fish.
This book, however is different. The therapist/author was a person with good old fashioned common sense who did not fall into the harmful practice of labeling children with damning diagnoses that would hound them for years to come; did not try to force a culturally popular label onto any of her clients. In short, I like her style.
To her credit, Jacobsen appears to be a progressive, logical and realistic thinker. That is sorely needed in any therapeutic relationship. At all times she admits to being an outsider to the autism/Asperger's (a/A) world, but yet maintains a level and intelligent view of these related spectrum conditions.
Jacobsen does not resort to self aggrandizement; she admits that some methods failed dismally with certain clients and viewed these setbacks as learning opportunities. The descriptions of her clients was interesting and well fleshed out; the behaviors described sounded like a/A behaviors.
Judgments prononounced against people with autism from the NT world are addressed. Misinterpreted behavior is often mistaken for stubborness; arrogance; egocentricity and cruelty which just is not true. Ironically, many of the judgments the NT world world places on those on the spectrum more often than not can be found among the NT population. Behaviors wrongfully called "narcissistic" are often childhood misperceptions of what one can do in comparison with others. For many with autism, these types of concepts have to be taught cognitively as they are not innately known.
For example, I never understood why people would "go along with you" when you wanted to play a joke. It makes you feel foolish to realize that your ruse was visible to the adult(s) in question and that the joke backfired. For a child on the spectrum, being told the reason for "going along," e.g. pretending to be fooled by something the child has said or done has to be explained.
Many of the theories used seem to explain behaviors, but don't quite fit the tab. For people on the spectrum, so much of what the NT world takes for granted by having intuitive knowledge, e.g. decoding body language; seeing shades of gray as opposed to black and white is not readily explained by the terminology this author uses, e.g. executive decision.
Sadly, a chasm exists between NT and a/A in terms of understanding behavior in so many cases. On a purely cognitive level I understand the author's rationale for using the terms that she does; however, I am not fully convinced these terms apply in many cases. In the paradoxical case of "theory of mind," that is, people with autism having such mental theories for others on the spectrum, but not for NT people to me suggests the age old problem of communication issues. Autism DOES negatively impact on communication - for example, many people with autism have trouble with nonverbal cues; reactions others make to certain responses, etc.
It is important to keep in mind that there is no one size fits all. Not all people with autism will behave or follow the "models" of the clients described in this book. Another part that I take issue with is the on going belief that autistics have to shed more overt autistic behavior to appease the NT world. Raun Kaufman, whose father Barry Neil Kaufman wrote of his stellar "recovery" from autism, says in SON-RISE II: THE MIRACLE CONTINUES that "expert" is "the biggest misnomer" in creation because those "credentialled experts" often did more harm than good based on the limited knowledge of the times. During the psychiatric Dark Ages, autism was thought to be a mental illness! Such "experts" recommended that Raun be institutionalized, which sadly happened to many people with autism. "Expert" is a misnomer because the people in question did not always know what they were doing and did not want to lose face by admitting this. Sadly, they relied on the theories and methods of the time and often with devastating consequences.