Ana Anselma is the co-founder of the Social Mind Center in Davie, Florida. She is…
Harold “Hackie” Reitman, M.D.: He leaned back in is chair, and he said, “Somebody oughta’ make a movie.”
Dr. Lori Butts, J.D., Ph.D.: Darby Stanchfield did a great job displaying the emotional difficulties that she experienced.
David Linsley: He called me, and told me, “The whole movie is about Asperger’s.”
Hackie: In the school of twelve-hundred, they have thirty students with Asperger’s.
Brian Udell: The conventional medical community is at a loss…
Hackie: One in sixty-eight births being on the autism spectrum, the so-called “neurotypicals” are in a minority now.
Brian Udell: I believe that Aspertools, The Square Root of 2, and Dr. Hackie Reitman are at the vanguard of changing people’s perceptions about what’s going on.
David: There’s always a story behind the movie. And the story behind the story, the movie wouldn’t be what it is.
Lori Butts: The beauty of Aspertools and The Square Root of 2 coming from and evolving from that is a phenomena.
Pati Fizzano: And if we can just get people, in general just to understand that, life would be easier.
Asperger’s, Autism, and The Square Root of 2: a neurodiversity documentary
Hackie: Hi, I’m Dr. Harold Reitman. Most people call me Hackie. And I’ve been an orthopedic surgeon, a professional heavyweight boxer…
Commentator: (OS) Reitman gives all of his prize money to children’s charity for youth programs. Win or lose, another children’s program will gain.
Hackie: I guess that you could say now, that I’m a filmmaker.
Darby: Daddy, why are they doing this?
Brett Rice: Everybody’s trying to do the right thing but nobody can.
This is just wrong.
VO: Featuring Darby Stanchfield, of ABC’S Scandal, in her first leading role in a feature film…
Margo: You should limit your horizons. Because on paper…
Darby: I’m not paper. I’m Rachel.
Hackie: The history behind the Square Root of 2 is pretty simple. My daughter, Rebecca, who’s my hero, was encountering some problems in college.
“Patricia”: Your unreasonable, and violent behavior, has forced me to take these steps. This is your official notice.
Darby: I don’t understand.
Hackie: She encountered an irrational system that was governing our universities today.
“Steve”: That is housing’s decision.
“Matt Wallace”: I’m afraid our hands are tied.
Hackie: And against our advice, she chose a great risk to herself to take on the entire system.
Darby: Mom, I’m going to fight it.
Hackie: I went in to see the director of housing, who’s a great guy. Been there thirty years. And he said, “What are you here for, Doc?” And I said, “Well..” And he said, “What, are you here for your refund?” I go, “Yeah.”
“Matt Wallace”: Done. So Doc, tell me. Why are you really here?
Brett Rice: Matt, it’s this whole thing. Everybody’s trying to do the right thing but nobody can. This is just wrong.
Hackie: Everybody here has been so nice, you’re all so dedicated. You really wanna do the right thing, and in this case, you knew the whole story. You knew what the right thing to do was, and– Then he finished the sentence for me.
“Matt Wallace”: Well that’s because everybody’s hands are tied by a legal system gone haywire where you can get sued for nothing. They keep passing laws meant to help them, they do the opposite.
Hackie: He leaned back in his chair, and he said, “Somebody outta’ make a movie.” And then ignited something in me, and I said, “Why not.”
David: The very small crew, small budget, guerilla–kind of a guerilla project.
Hackie: We put together a crew and a team, and we did an eighteen-day shoot. And I lucked out tremendously because the actors were great, the crew was great. And Darby Stanchfield of Scandal was unbelievable playing the lead role.
David: Darby had come out from California, after spending about a week and a half with Rebecca, Hackie’s daughter out there, getting to know her, perfecting her method.
Hackie: She is a hard worker, she’s a gifted, gifted, actor. She studied my daughter Rebecca. And that was her method of acting. And that is what is really, really unique about this whole story, you see? Because it wasn’t until after. The movie was complete, and in the can, that I learned that my daughter Rebecca had Asperger’s syndrome, or high functioning autism spectrum.
Pati Fizzano: Asperger’s syndrome is on the spectrum. It’s a high functioning part of the autism spectrum. And it mainly is based on social skills.
Dr. Lori Butts, J.D., Ph.D.: One of the hallmarks in the diagnosis of somebody with Asperger’s disorder is their inability to process social queues and to understand social interaction properly, so that might perceived as somebody who is oppositional or quirky, but not necessarily knowing that the reason that they’re responding to information inappropriately or not socially appropriate is because they have the disorder.
Pati Fizzano: Making friends, how to enter and exit a conversation, building friendships. What we learn in the everyday life, growing up, just seeing, they have to be taught it.
William: So I was diagnosed with Asperger’s about three years ago. I was displaying some characteristics of something strange, not necessarily Asperger’s because that’s not the first thing that pops into people’s heads, but definitely I was really rigid, black and white thinking, I was super literal, I wasn’t open to suggestions. All those things kind of built up in each other and it just made me into like, a little bit of a strange person. I was a little bit reclusive. So obviously my parents wanted to figure out what was going on and see if they could help me with it. So they brought me to the doctor and I did some tests and stuff and they ended up determining that I had Aspergers.
Brian Udell, M.D.: I think Aspergers is mostly a diagnosis, a historical diagnosis. When you look back on that person’s life, “oh, yeah, they didn’t have many friends as a kid, and they always were getting in trouble at school because they were staying on preferred activities. And they weren’t the social butterfly in the classroom.” And sometimes they get bullied a lot. Their problems, especially their problems with socialization and sensory issues, and a repetitive ideation, stick with them and they really cause them a lot of problems through their life that they overcome.
Hackie: We knew she had twenty-three cavernous angiomas in her brain, she had survived two major brain surgeries as a toddler at the male in Rochester, Minnesota. We knew that she had some learning disabilities but still in awe, there she was going through school, going through high school, she was an all-county cross-country runner and track athlete. And she wanted to go off to a great mathematics school. She had always said her career was going to be tutoring students with some learning disabilities. She had done this in middle school, high school, even in college. And I used to say to her, “Rebecca, why don’t you teach? Instead of tutoring?” She said, “Dad, you don’t get it. Every brain is different. No two are alike, they’re like snowflakes.” I didn’t get it then, but boy, do I get it now. After she graduated, she went to do an internship. And the founder of the school, well she met Rebecca for about ten minutes and said, “Did you know your daughter has Asperger’s?” And I said, “Well I knew she had this and that and the other thing but I didn’t know—I don’t even know what Asperger’s is.” I didn’t even know what Autism was. And I should have. But like so many of us clueless parents, I was either ignorant, in denial, or whatever it was, but I didn’t have a clue. I was clueless, but now I’m less clueless.
Pati: I think that having the diagnosis gave Hackie merely a way to frame what was going on and then to learn and to understand how to manage that Rebecca wasn’t going to change. What need to change was their interaction with Rebecca and how they communicated with Rebecca.
Pati: Working with Rebecca first as a mentor, and then bringing her to the school, tutoring and watching her interact with children, she has so much to give to other people, for other people to learn from her.
Hackie: I started observing Rebecca tutoring, and it was fascinating to see her honing in on these individual students’ brains, and tutoring them and making them succeed. That is why I then embarked upon doing a few years of research. And then I wrote the book “Aspertools: The Practical Guide to Understanding and Embracing Asperger’s, Autism Spectrum, and Neurodiversity.” Because what I’ve come to realize, is that all of our brains are different. The so-called “neuortypicals” are in a minority now. Alright? And society has to stop this “one size fits all”, and we have to nurture special interests that these individuals may have. Nurture the special hyper-interests. Nurture their gifts, and make them productive, and give them the tools to maximize their independence. Because every brain is different.
Pati: Treating all brains alike in a classroom setting especially is– that’s wrong. You have to treat each and every one differently. The hardest thing is with the teachers not understanding that, and they have so many students in front of them, they have a basic way of teaching.
Hackie: In the school of twelve-hundred, they have thirty students with Asperger’s. Let me tell you, start looking at the statistics. Of one-in-sixty-eight births, being on the autism spectrum now. And you look, if you start adding up people with anxiety, people with PTSD, people with depression, bipolar, OCD, ADHD, I’ll keep naming initials. There are a bunch of different people that make up our population. And everybody I talk to has got a friend or a cousin or a family member who’s brain is different. I don’t care what the label is. Personally, I think labels are a lousy way to describe a unique human being.
Abraham Fischler: We can’t put them in boxes. We have to allow each child the opportunity to be successful. So we have to make time the variable and mastery what we’re looking for. And so if the child takes a little longer to learn that three times three is nine, that’s okay.
Dr. Susan J. Mendelsohn: Do you treat every one of your friends the same? Do you treat every single one of your siblings the same? Absolutely not. When the parents tell me, “I treat her the same way I treat her sister.” Well you can’t. You can’t treat each of your brothers the same way either because our constitution is different when we’re born. Our innate genetic make-up is different.
Brian Udell, M.D.: I think a great thing that’s being done by utilizing the term “Aspertools” and realizing that there’s this broad spectrum of how people present, then you can fine-tune the therapy to the person who’s having the problem, instead of saying one therapy helps all people with Asperger’s. The conventional medical community is at a loss to give us good answers, any good answers, about autism, about Asperger’s syndrome, or any of these developmental problems that we’re seeing in this century. I believe that Aspertools, that the Square Root of 2, and Dr. Hackie Reitman are at the vanguard of changing people’s perceptions about what’s going on.
Hackie: And I want you to understand, I am no expert in Asperger’s, autism, or any of this. And my M.D., and being an orthopedic surgeon really wasn’t of much help. But, I have to tell you, it’s pretty startling once you start treating people individually and looking at people in any walk of life, no matter what you’re doing, whether you’re a doctor, whether you’re a teacher, whether you’re a law enforcement officer, whether you’re negotiating a deal. Look at the person across from you and try to tune in how does there brain work. So I’m not much caught up in labels unless it’s helpful.
David: The post-production period for Square Root of 2 was a long process.
Hackie: Once the movie was made, and then I learned about Asperger’s, I started looking through the movie with a whole different lens. All of a sudden, I was seeing this classical portrayal of Autism Spectrum, particularly Asperger’s.
David: He called me, and told me, “The whole movie is about Asperger’s.”
Pati: Watching it, and, seeing it, there’s a lot of different quirks that Rebecca has that you can–it just–it’s just–you can just see it.
Hackie: Darby, with her tremendous acting ability, and method of studying the character directly, and getting the whole thing was so nuance that I missed it until I knew that we were dealing with Asperger’s.
William: I think that Darby Stanchfield portrayed a lot of the ways that someone with Asperger’s could encounter difficulty in their daily life. Just interacting with others in a social environement.
David: It was like this “Aha”. I mean he’s like, “All these things that I’ve been saying, all the things in the movie, all these little nuances that they struggled to get across that seemingly didn’t have a purpose or seemingly were just quirks, all kind of made sense now.”
Hackie: I’ll give an example. The scene where they’re going off to college, the family is just jumping into the family car. And the last thing as Rachel, Darby Stanchfield, comes out of the house and says, “Before we go, Dad, you have to sign this contract.”
Brett Rice: Oh, you’re kidding me?
Darby: Come on, Dad. You promised. Sign the contract.
Brett Rice: Well let me just read it, alright? “You may only visit every other week, you may not get an apartment closer than one mile from the Somerton Tech campus, you must call before visiting–” Isn’t this a bit harsh?
Hackie: In her mind, and in many of those with Asperger’s, numbers are very specific. They want things black and white. They don’t see shades of gray. You’re either in, or you’re out. And you’ll either sign it, or you won’t. And they want documentation. I still have a copy of the real contract in my office by the way.
Dr. Lori Butts: Individuals with Asperger’s disorder have a different way of viewing the world, so it’s important for them to have a structure and to negotiate a structure with people with people around them.
Patti Fizzano: We do have aspies all the time that in school, we will sign contracts.
Lori Butts: It reduces their anxiety, and they know how to predict their future. They know how to understand their world, and they know that they can rely on and depend upon people in their lives to do certain things.
Patti Fizzano If you start training your child young enough to show them these contracts, it works.
Page (mom): Be nice, and I’ll… take you for a smoothie.
Darby: Smoothie? (giggling) Yes!
Pati Fizzano: They like rewards. They’re very black and white, so they understand. They do not want to break a rule, they do not want to disobey, they don’t want to lie, they’re very honest, honest people. So if you give tem a rule and you give them points and goals and all that, they want to cash them in at the end of the month, and get a reward.
Hackie: And this is one of the tools in the book we called “Aspertools”, where are rules, rewards, and consequences, can affect positive changes in behavior. Now all of us as parents know this to an extent, but when you’re dealing with someone whose brain is a little different, it’s even more so.
Amber Coyle: Alright, take my word that I will treat you to a celebratory smoothie if you win, okay? [giggling] Alright?
Hackie: Another thing that’s amazing to me when I watch the movie, is the non-awareness of a parent.
Tony Lewis: Actually, I came down here to talk some sense into you about Rachel.
Brett Rice: Well is she alright? What’s going on?
Tony Lewis: Come on. You and Page outta’ be shot for what you’re doing to that kid.
Brett Rice: What?
Tony Lewis: She doesn’t stand a chance, are you stupid?
Hackie: You see, the very good friend of the family who’s like an uncle, and is just worried and concerned.
Tony Lewis: I understand you’re throwing this kid to the wolves with no survival instincts.
Hackie: The father is trying to give his daughter the wings and flight that she so much desires and demand, weighing it against the risks.
Brett Rice: No, you don’t understand. We had our chance.
Brett Rice: Paulie, we had our chance. All she’s asking for is hers.
Lori Butts: It’s a very difficult balance because, you want to encourage parents to give their children every opportunity to engage with the environment and to be prosperous, but you don’t want to set them up for failure. Had the family known that she was Asperger’s, that there’s a great possibility that they would have held her back from certain situations. And that would not have pushed her to the level of capabilities that she has achieved. So it’s trying to balance what they’re capable of, what they’re not capable of, and yet, not limiting them.
Darby: This is my favorite place.
Page Leher (Mom): Wow! This is so beautiful. No wonder you like to come here. Really nice.
Darby: I love this place. It feels unspoiled. Like… that nothing bad can happen here. It’s safe.
Patti Fizzano: It’s a security blanket for them. For examples, in sixth grade, when new students come to a middle school, their anxiety goes up just like any other child. But what they need is to have that little blue safe pass that we make up for them. And, they know that if they ever feel overwhelmed, or they just feel like the walls are caving in, they can pick it up, just show the teacher and leave the classroom.
Hackie: They have to know they can get to that safe place, and get out of the event, and get out of what’s happening, if they become overwhelmed.
Movie VO: Like clockwork, Rachel arrived for her special visitor at her favorite spot. The campus cafe. This time, after her sorority Halloween Party.
Hackie: The way the main character’s brain works, if you get into a routine, it’s easy. Life gets easy. You eat the same food, at the same place, at the same time.
Brett Rice: This is still your favorite place.
Brian Udell: The routines that develop in a patient with Asperger’s are part of the system that their problem is. So they have repetitive ideation, repetitive thoughts, repetitive movements, and a narrow range of expressive language that they need to stay in. And so things that are outside of that box create anxiety for those people. When we insist that you’re going to like it, “if you would just go here, you’re going to love it. You’re gonna find things that you never ate before, and you’re gonna love it.” Well we’re assuming that they’re just like we are, and that they may hate it. They may just–it may cause a lot of anxiety just going into that restaurant. And we think that when you taste this stuff, you’re going to love it. But we have no idea that their taste is really different than our taste. So they come out of there, maybe feeling a little bit less in their self-esteem because everyody else likes this place and I don’t like this place. I think the nicest thing that a parent could do is go with the flow.
Darby: Come on, you’re the one that always told me if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
Patti: You talk about Aspergers and black and white. They’re very literal people.
William: My first time I took the driver’s license test, right, they said park in this parking spot. And it was basically four cones , so they said, “Park in between the four cones.” So that’s exactly what I did. I parked in between the four cones. But the problem was that I parked in sideways. So all the parking lines go like this, and instead of parking in and pulling in like you would pull into a parking spot, instead I pulled in horizontally across all the parking lines just to get within the four cones. And we had a nice discussion about how technically, I was correct, but she said she had never in her life, of her twenty years working at the DMV, experienced someone parking diagonally in the parking spot, that was so clearly meant for someone to park a certain way, and I didn’t. So I ended up failing my drivers license test, but I learned a valuable lesson.
Hackie: If you refer to the Aspertools book, and you look at the chapters on Taking Things Literally, of things being black and white to them… Well, when I made the movie, I didn’t have a clue. Nor did the father.
Brett Rice: It’s complicated.
Darby: No, it’s black and white. I know I’m gonna make it.
Brett Rice: Rachel, to you, everything is black and white. But in real life, there are gray areas. In real life, it’s not like math. Things change.
Darby: Well, everything should be like math.
William: I think the number one thing with someone who has Asperger’s is the black and white thinking. And I think the black and white thinking is kind of the cause of a lot of the other issues, and also the cause of the anxiety.
Lori: You know, all or nothing, there’s no gray areas. So when I say I’m going to be there at three, it could be 3:05. But for somebody with Asperger’s, that three o’clock means three o’clock. And if you show up late, that’s difficult and anxiety-producing for somebody with Asperger’s.
William: As a society, we encourage non-linear thinking. And for someone who is very linear to an extreme, we’re not open to that at all, as a society. And that’s where the anxiety comes from. Because we exist in a society that’s not necessarily open to us.
Brian Udell: When we react to their black and white statement, they need to be given a chance to give their point of view. Okay? That to them, things are black and white. And if we listen to that, and show them it can be other shades of black and white, and so the Aspertools can help those people see that there are steps along the way. And so each little step could be a black and white step, and a black and white step, and a black and white step, instead of them having to see it your way.
Patti: The biggest problems we have in school is, for example, math. We see a math problem and they can actually just tell you the answer without walking you through each and every step. They’ll look at the problem and they’ll just give you the answer, and nine out of ten times the answer’s right. That upsets a teacher. The teacher may even mark them wrong for not doing what she told them to do, which is wrong in a way because the answer was correct and we do have problems like this all the time in school.
“Erich the Tutor”: Okay, you’re getting the idea and you’re somehow winding up with the right answer, but how did you arrive at this solution?
Darby: (sigh) I can’t really explain it, Erich.
Erich: If you can’t show your professor your methods at this senior level math, they can’t give you credit for the whole question.
Darby: It’s the way my brain works, I can’t–
Patti: We had a student a couple of years ago that when Rebecca worked with this child, he just knew the answer. He’s very, very, very smart. However, when Rebecca explained to him why it’s so important, and she did the same thing he did, he started asking her and pumping her with questions that she had the answers for, where most of us that don’t see this, don’t know and we’ll just say, “Well just do it.” And Rebecca won’t do that. She’ll explain these are the reasons why.
Lori Butts: Often, we will see with somebody that’s been diagnosed with Asperger’s disorder that they have a hypersensitivity to certain senses. Maybe it’s touch, maybe it’s temperature, maybe it’s feel, maybe it’s food. And so that hypersensitivity needs to be respected and understood by the people that are in their lives.
Brian Udell: We have to be more sensitive to the fact that every sense that we have is much more acute in those patients.
Patti: They’ll just focus on their sensitivity, they’re going to focus on the smells, or the sounds…
Lori: Trying to communicate with that person about anything else is a lost cause because they’re focused on remedying that sensitive area.
Brian: The Aspertools can give that person some tools to get into that mode. Okay? “Okay, I know I’m going to hear a loud sound. I’m not going to react to that loud sound at this moment. Okay?” And then you’re going to have a more normal reaction.
Hackie: There is one scene that portrays one night when the roommate in the middle of the winter, has the air conditioning turned up all the way, and it turns into an argument.
Darby:…you’ve had it on for three hours, and I–
“Patricia”: Oh, Rachel, you’re so selfish.
Hackie: Finally, we see the social awkwardness with not knowing how to handle the situation.
Darby: Open the door. Patricia? Are you okay?
Hackie: She’s knocking on the roommate’s door and the roommate is really not being very nice, calls her mother, who then calls the police. So in this scene, we see a combination of things. We see the hypersenses, we see social awkwardness, not being able to read social ques. You know, for someone with Asperger’s, they don’t know how many times to knock on a door, which comes instinctively to many of us. How many times do you let the telephone ring?
Brian Udell: They have not come with the tools to recognize that somebody’s sad or happy or upset or anxious, and they definitely need to have skills taught to them so that they can function in a social situation.
Darby: Dad, you have to call Patricia’s mom. Hurry over here, she’s calling the police and housing.
Hackie: There’s not a whole lot you can do when the meltdown phase has occurred.
Brian Udell: I’ve asked Asperger’s patients if they know that they’re going to have a meltdown. Do you know, do you feel it coming on? The older people have definitely said that they can feel it coming on, they’ll write about it, and it’s just like an itch that just starts to burn in them. And it builds and it builds.
William: I can feel meltdowns coming on more through the actions of others than through myself. If I’m looking at someone, and I see that they’re getting really mad and angered, I’m like, “Oh, shoot.” That’s a sign that I’m probably going to have a meltdown now.
Patti: It’s like being cornered, and they’re trying to get out of this corner. They’re doing everything possible to get out of this corner.
William: Basically, it’s like a communication block. And I just reflect everything and don’t really take anything in, and usually when my meltdowns happen, people around me actually have real meltdowns because they can’t get through to me. So the they get really, really emotional and that just makes it worse.
Hackie: As my daughter Rebecca has taught me, as she wrote in the book, “Let them take the wave and get out of the way.”
Darby:… blowing on my head…
Hackie: What you can do, is use aggressive observation so that you can note the signs of anxiety leading up to it.
Patti: We just need to calm them down before we start talking to them.
Brett Rice: No one’s gonna put you in jail, do you believe me?
Patti: Then we can see why it happened. What flared this meltdown? Once we understand that, and we explain it to them, and we look for their signs for the next time, this will calm their meltdowns.
Hackie: You want to remove the item that is causing the high degree of anxiety, because once a meltdown starts, it gets going and it gets–it can get ugly.
Patti: A true Asperger, I would say, usually never lies.
Amber Coyle: I don’t think you know what you’re up against. And what you stand to lose.
Darby: But I have truth on my side, so I can’t lose.
Hackie: The plan simplicity of the lens through which individuals such as my daughter see things, they see right and wrong, very big on justice, very big on truth.
Amber Coyle: They could throw you out of school, or even jail.
Darby: But, I know I’m right. And you know I’m right. And everyone knows I’m right.
Brian: Asperger’s patients seem to see things in a lot of black and white states. And so, there’s truth, and there’s not the truth.
Patti: But, how they perceive it may be something different. So if they’re perceiving something that they think is the truth, and tell you, but it really wasn’t, it’s not a lie. It’s just the way they perceive it.
Lori: Somebody with a neurotypical brain will understand social norms and couches what they say to other people in a way to not offend others. And in a way to be socially sensitive. Somebody with Asperger’s doesn’t understand social sensitivity, that’s the hallmark of the disorder. That’s the hallmark of the processing deficit in their brain. And so, it appears that they’re being rude when they say whatever it is on their mind because they don’t have that social filter.
Hackie: Now in the scene where she’s being offered a deal…
Jeanne Tidwell: I did not find you responsible.
Jeanne: But, I am mandated to keep your file for our office information. This will give us notice of continued inappropriate behavior and serve and sanctioning in the future if the behavior continues.
Hackie: And Rachel would not accept it.
Darby: No, it’s not right.
Jeanne: I beg your pardon.
Darby: Yes, I think you should.
Hackie: Which of course, crosses over there into rudeness.
Darby: I cannot accept you telling me that I did nothing wrong, that I did not violate student code, and that I did not endanger others, and that I’m not responsible, have you say that I can get in trouble if it happens again. It’s completely irrational, like the square root of two.
Hackie: It’s clear to her there’s right and there’s wrong, and I’m going to fight for what’s right. And it’s quite refreshing actually. What’s not refreshing is when you get out and out rudeness. And this is where behavior modification has to come in. because you’re not going to get away with rudeness for the sake of being rude out in the real world.
Page Leher: Before you say another word, make sure you understand what the choices are.
Hackie: We see the mother trying to differentiate between “is my daughter just being stubborn or does she really understand the possible consequences and has though it through?”
Page Leher: Make sure you’re not just being stubborn.
Darby: Mom, I’m going to fight it. It’s not right.
Page: The dad and I back you one hundred percent.
David: The best part about the experience, in my opinion, in making the Square Root of 2, was the story really behind the story.
Lori: Darby Stanchfield did a great job depicting the character and displaying the emotional difficulties that she experienced.
David: It kind of brought Hackie and his daughter closer, kind of gave him a better understanding of what this is and how we all learned about Asperger’s through it.
Lori: The beauty of Aspertools and The Square Root of 2 coming from and evolving from that is just a phenomena.
Darby: Have a little faith.
Hackie: I hope parents will learn that there is hope and to stop beating themselves up, and stop feeling like the lone ranger. Anyone who is a parent, I don’t care if your kid’s neurotypical, or any of the labels that I don’t like, being a parent is the most noble of jobs, the most important, and these kids don’t come with a manual.
Pati: And that’s why Aspertools is so important. Each chapter in that book tells you the guide, exactly, what to do for your child.
Susan J. Mendelsohn: It’s a big help. I think too many people don’t know enough about Asperger’s. And I think if they follow those tools, I think–I think Hackie wishes he would’ve known these tools when his daughter was growing up.
Abraham Fischler: What it says to me is that each person that comes before you was an individual with a set of genes, and we have to give that child or that person an opportunity to succeed.
William: I think it helps me a lot because it helps me to understand where the people who interact with me are coming from.
Lori: It’s not just for parents who have a child with Asperger’s disorder, it’s for parents who have any type of child. It’s for even people that are in marital relationships, because it teaches the reader how to be sensitive to communication styles, how to be sensitive to the emotional state, and the brain functioning, the person that they’re communicating with.
Brian Udell: I think that recognizing that your child is different from other people, but not worse, only different, can make them feel a lot better and do a lot better for the child and for the child, recognizing that they don’t have to feel like they’re less than other people, because they see things differently. This is not a sentence, this is a journey.
William: It can, with work, a lot of the issues can be overcome, and mitigated. In ways that are almost unnoticeable. Knowing that that can happen, that you can overcome those challenges, it motivates you to actually work on them. If I know that something is possible, then I’m going to put the effort towards working on it and overcoming that challenge. And by doing so, al l I’m going to be doing is improving myself.
Pati: And if parents can just follow it through, or the bosses, or the teachers. If they can just follow it through , it would be amazing what they would get from that child, from the adult. They’re–you know, everybody’s brain is different. Every single person. And if we can just get people in general just to understand that, life would be easier.
Hackie: It’s just another way to be looking at the individual. You know, it’s one thing to give lip service, that we’re all individuals, but it’s another thing to practice it.
William: Now at least, hopefully, people will understand you better. And people might be more open to the way you think and the way act, and the way you just, are.
Hackie: And it is now up to all of us to mainstream society’s conception that every brain is different and that we have to stop “one size fits all”, that we have to nurture people’s interests and their gifts and their talents to try to make this a better world for all of us.