Hitchhiking through Asperger Syndrome
by Lise Pyles. Jessica Kingsley Publishers. 2002. 286 pages.
ISBN 1 85302 937 8

Highly Recommended by Amar Arneja of Guelph in a review for OAARSN

This book is written by a mother about her teenage son who has been identified as having Asperger Syndrome. Any parent who has a child with a similar condition can identify themselves with this book. As the father of a 25-year-old autistic child, reading this book was, for me, like looking in the mirror. As I was reading of Lise Pyles’ experience with John, I was saying to myself, “This is exactly how it was with us.”

Although your child is late in walking and talking, don’t worry too much, especially if one of the parents was also late during their development in childhood. It is usually the staff at the day care centre who sound the first alarm that something is seriously wrong. After trying some other day care centres, you come to the conclusion that your child needs a special environment where one-to-one instruction is given. It is either home schooling or having a teacher’s aid assigned to your child all the time. Home schooling is explained in detail in this book.

The first few years are quite hard as you are fighting the school system to get special provision for your child while also trying to get a proper medical diagnosis. As there is no sure way to diagnose from blood or urine samples, it is up to the neurologist to guess. Attention Deficit Disorder is what the first neurologist said about John, and he prescribed Ritalin. Side effects outweighed the good effects of Ritalin. Once John started home schooling, he was taken off the prescribed drug.

During home schooling, food was carefully monitored. Food items that had negative effects on John’s mood were eliminated or reduced. After one year of home schooling, the family moved to England, where John managed to go to school because of the small classes at the military base. The biggest problem at school was bullying by other kids. This was causing depression. Instead of trying anti-depressant drugs, Lise ordered mega-vitamins that are specially formulated for the autistic population. For John, taking these vitamins made all the difference between a depressed unhappy young boy and a happy and confident young man. Information about the vitamins and side effects is given in the book. 

From the Foreword by Tony Attwood who diagnosed John Pyles:
“Although the book is primarily written for parents, I read the manuscript with my text liner in constant use, highlighting her descriptions and advice and gaining much insight to aid me in my professional role. She provides an explanation of the syndrome in terms that are clear and accurate. Her chapter on coming to terms and moving forward examines many issues that are extremely important for parents. She writes as a mentor, companion and navigator, providing information and options, and generates a positive attitude in the reader. This book will help parents achieve understanding and become not only more knowledgeable, but empowered in their ability to achieve real progress.” 

“Lise Pyles’ Hitchhiking Through Asperger Syndrome is a warm personal journal, an incredibly comprehensive encyclopedia and a very practical instruction manual all conveniently wrapped up into one beautifully written book.” Liane Holliday Willey, author of Pretending To Be Normal