Last week we had the first of our restarted Book Club meeting. Delightful! Our leader, Brittany did a great job leading the group. I think all the other books that have been chosen have been fiction books.
This one is not. It is a memoir. It was written by a man, David Finch, who discovered he had Asperger’s syndrome five years into his marriage. That is where the story starts. When his wife, a speech therapist, helps him take an on-line Asperger’s test.
For him, it was liberating to learn there was a name for all his idiosyncrasies. He thought he was just weird. Well, he was and is actually. It is interesting to hear how his mind works! He has no natural empathy. He had to learn it…by journaling and asking lots of questions of his wife. What motivated him? His love for his wife and the desire not to keep embarassing her in social settings!
It is very humorous to read, as this man writes notes to himself to take initiative (once he learned how to do it), use words, and maybe even help with the laundry (although his wife says that chapter is fraudulent!)
It is also wonderful to watch his wife respond graciously to him as he repeatedly asks questions about things that to many of us seem obvious. He is not lacking in intelligence. He just has no idea how to connect with people. It truly is a handicap!
The children can be crying and his wife can be busy with them in the morning, trying to get ready to go to work, and it won’t naturally cross his mind that she needs his help. Why? Because he is focused on his morning routine that he has to complete in order to start the day right.
We hear that a person has no empathy, but reading this book gives insight into what that means! WOW! It is a painful process to watch this man learn to interact with his family. It was difficult for him to learn for sure! From the sound of it, it is probably a daily struggle for him.
I recommend this book for your reading whether you think you are touched by this kind of person or not.
Why? Because all of us are affected by people on the spectrum. They may not be Asperger’s. Who knows? We may be one of those people!
I learned a lot from the gracious responses of his wife. Love will go a long way in forgiving a person for who they are. It can also motivate them to change if we respond to their idiosycracies with love, grace and patience. This goes for people with all kinds of neurological quirks. It is true that WE can’t change people, but often our kind, gracious, accepting and encouraging behavior of them as people can be the basis for their being motivated to change.
I see many in my job at a rehab hospital. The family members who are impatient with their loved ones just make it more difficult for their loved one as well as themselves. On some level, the neurologically affected person knows they aren’t functioning up to the norm. Impatience on their family’s part only adds to their frustration. Behaving calmly and as if we have all the time in the world to complete a task goes a long way with neurologically affected patients…just as it did with this man.
No, it doesn’t come naturally. But we, unlike the man and woman in this book, have a resource that is limitless. Christ is available to give us the grace, patience and even the love we need to give to these people who are in our lives.
Negatives: the main negative of the book was language. However, this is the way he talks and he was especially frustrated with himself, so I’m certain he would not have felt he was being genuine if he had written the book without the real language he used. It does reinforce the extreme frustration of this man and shows the intensity of his feelings.
Oh yes! The title of the book? The Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One Man’s Quest to Be a Better Husband.