Book targets parents raising children with Asperger’s

Charleston native Cornelia Elwood and her colleague Scott McLeod recently wrote a guide for parents raising children with Asperger’s syndrome, a disorder on the autism spectrum.

“Take Charge of Treatment for Your Child With Asperger’s (ASD)” was published in late last year by Philadelphia-based Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

According to the publisher’s website, the book has been designed to “create a personalized toolkit of information and strategies to support their child at school, at home and in the community.”

Elwood, who lives in the Boston area now, felt compelled to write it, she said, because she wanted to share what she’d learned with other parents.

Elwood’s 15-year-old son Alexander was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome more than a decade ago.

“Even when he was 1, we would go to play groups, or different classes and I could see that things were very different,” she said. “I became passionate about it when my son was diagnosed and I went back to school for autism spectrum disorders.”

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate one in 68 children have an autism spectrum disorder. Autism is five times more prevalent among boys than girls.

Symptoms include speech impairment, learning disabilities and difficulty developing fine motor skills. The disorder may be mild or debilitating.

Children specifically diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome may have “narrow, sometimes obsessive, interests,” may appear socially awkward and are often very smart. Scientists aren’t sure what causes Asperger’s syndrome, or any of the autism spectrum disorders, for that matter.

That’s one reason some parents are caught off guard by a autism diagnosis.

The book Elwood and McLeod wrote may help families restore some order to all the uncertainty, they said.

“(Autism) really impacts so much of a parent’s life,” Elwood said. “That’s really why we wrote this book. This is the book I wish I had when I was coming along.”

“Take Charge of Treatment for Your Child With Asperger’s (ASD)” is $29.95 and can be purchased at www.jkp.com/usa, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online retailers.