Anything but Typical

Anything but Typical

by Nora Raleigh Baskin

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Overview

Told from the first-person perspective of an autistic boy, Nora Raleigh Baskin’s novel is an enlightening story for anyone who has ever worried about fitting in.

Jason Blake is an autistic twelve-year-old living in a neurotypical world. Most days it's just a matter of time before something goes wrong. But Jason finds a glimmer of understanding when he comes across PhoenixBird, who posts stories to the same online site as he does.

Jason can be himself when he writes and he thinks that PhoneixBird-her name is Rebecca-could be his first real friend. But as desperate as Jason is to met her, he's terrified that if they do meet, Rebecca wil only see his autism and not who Jason really is.

By acclaimed writer Nora Raleigh Baskin, this is the breathtaking depiction of an autistic boy's struggles-and a story for anyone who has ever worried about fitting in.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781439158449
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication date: 03/24/2009
Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 435,839
Lexile: HL640L (what's this?)
File size: 1 MB
Age Range: 10 - 14 Years

About the Author

Nora Raleigh Baskin is the ALA Schneider Family Book Award–winning author of Anything But Typical. She was chosen as a Publishers Weekly Flying Start for her novel What Every Girl (Except Me) Knows, and has since written a number of novels for middle graders and teens, including The Truth About My Bat Mitzvah, The Summer Before Boys, and Ruby on the Outside. Nora lives with her family in Connecticut. Visit her at NoraBaskin.com.

Read an Excerpt


Chapter One

Most people like to talk in their own language.

They strongly prefer it. They so strongly prefer it that when they go to a foreign country they just talk louder, maybe slower, because they think they will be better understood. But more than talking in their own language, people like to hear things in a way they are most comfortable. The way they are used to. The way they can most easily relate to, as if that makes it more real. So I will try to tell this story in that way.

And I will tell this story in first person.

I not he. Me not him. Mine not his.

In a neurotypical way.

I will try --

To tell my story in their language, in your language.

I am Jason Blake.

And this is what someone would say, if they looked at me but could only see and could only hear in their own language:

That kid is weird (he's in SPED, you know). He blinks his eyes, sometimes one at a time. Sometimes both together. They open and close, open and close, letting the light in, shutting it out. The world blinks on and off.

And he flaps his hands, like when he is excited or just before he is going to say something, or when he is thinking. He does that the most when he's on the computer or reading a book. When his mind is focused on the words, it separates from his body, his body that almost becomes a burden, a weight.

Weight.

Wait.

Only his fingers don't stand still while they wait. They flap at the ends of his hands, at the ends of his wrists.

Like insects stuck on a string, stuck in a net. Like maybe they want to fly away. Maybe he does too.

In first grade they put a thick, purple rubber band across the bottom bar of his desk chair, so Jason would have something to jiggle with his feet when he was supposed to be sitting still. In second grade Matthew Iverson sent around a note saying, If you think Jason Blake is a retard, sign this, and Matthew got sent to the principal's office, which only made things worse for Jason.

In third grade Jason Blake was diagnosed with ASD, autistic spectrum disorder. But his mother will never use that term. She prefers three different letters: NLD, nonverbal learning disorder. Or these letters: PDD-NOS, pervasive developmental disorder- non-specific. When letters are put together, they can mean so much, and they can mean nothing at all.

From third grade until this year, sixth grade, Jason had a one-on-one aide, who followed him around school all day. She weighed two hundred and three pounds. (Jason asked her once, and she told him.) You couldn't miss seeing her.

But the thing people see the most is his silence, because some kinds of silence are actually visible.

When I write, I can be heard. And known.

But nobody has to look at me. Nobody has to see me at all.

School doesn't always go very well. It is pretty much a matter of time before the first thing of the day will go wrong.

But today I've gotten far. It is already third period. Mrs. Hawthorne is absent and so we are going to the library instead of art class. This is a good sign. You'd think art class would be one of the easiest classes, but it's not. I mean, it's not that it's hard like math, but it's hard like PE. A lot of space and time that is not organized.

Anything can go wrong in that kind of space.

But not in the library. There are computers in the library. And books. And computers. Keyboards and screens and desks that are built inside little compartments so you don't have to look at the person sitting next to you. And they can't look at me.

When we get into the library, somebody is already sitting in my seat, at my computer. At the one I want. Now I can't breathe. I want to log on to my Storyboard website. I was thinking about it all the way here. I have already had to wait so long. I don't know.

"Jason, this one is free," the lady says. She puts her hands on my shoulders. This lady is a lady I should know, but her face looks like a lot of other faces I don't know so well, and I group them all together. Her face is pinched, but her eyes are big, round like circles. Her hair doesn't move, like it's stuck in a ball. She belongs in the library or the front office or my dentist's office.

But she is here now, so I will assume she is the librarian.

I know from experience that she is trying to help me, but it doesn't. I can feel her weight on my shoulders like metal cutting my body right off my head. This is not a good thing.

I also know she wants me to look at her.

Neurotypicals like it when you look them in the eye. It is supposed to mean you are listening, as if the reverse were true, which it is not: Just because you are not looking at someone does not mean you are not listening. I can listen better when I am not distracted by a person's face:

What are their eyes saying?

Is that a frown or a smile?

Why are they wrinkling their forehead or lifting their cheeks like that? What does that mean?

How can you listen to all those words when you have to think about all that stuff?

But I know I will get in trouble if I don't look at the lady's eyes. I can force myself. I turn my head, but I will look at her sideways.

I know the right words to use.

Last year Jane, my one-on-one, taught me to say, "I am okay just as I am."

I am okay just as I am.

She told me I had to say something in this sort of situation. She said that people expect certain things. She said that people will misunderstand me if I don't say something.

This is one of the many, many things I need to run through in my mind, every time. Also the things my OT, my occupational therapist, has taught me:

Look people in the eye when you are talking (even if this makes it harder for you to listen).

Talk, even when you have nothing to say (that's what NTs do all the time).

Try to ignore everything else around you (even when those things may be very important).

If possible put your head and your body back together and try very hard not to shake or flap or twirl or twitch (even if it makes you feel worse to do this).

Don't blink.

Don't click your teeth. (These are the things people don't like. These are the things they hear but can't hear).

"I am okay just as I am," I say, and I take a step forward. I want the librarian to take her hands off my shoulders. The weight of her hands is almost unbearable, like lead. Like the lead apron the dentist puts on you when you get an x-ray, a crushing rock while the technician counts to ten. And you can't move.

Or they will have to do it all over again.

Also, I want to stand close, so there will be no confusion that I am next in line. The person at the computer turns around to the sound of my voice. It is a girl. Most girls look the same, and I can't tell one from the other.

Long hair. Earrings. Different tone of voice.

A Girl.

I don't know who this girl is, or if she already hates me, but chances are she does.

The girl doesn't say anything, so I have to look at her face and figure it out. Her eyes are squinched up, and her lips are pressed so tightly together they almost disappear. I recognize that she is unhappy or even angry, but I don't know why.

"You are breathing on me," she says. "You're so gross."

"Gross" could mean big or refer to a measurement or weight, but in this case it doesn't. It means she doesn't like me. She is, in fact, repulsed by me, which is how most girls react. My mom tells me not to worry. My mom tells me I will find a girlfriend one day, just like everyone else. I will find someone who sees how "special" I am. I know no girl will ever like me. No matter what I do, no matter how hard I try.

But maybe I am wrong.

I hope so.

I hope I am wrong and my mother is right. But usually I am right about these things.

"I was here first, Miss Leno," the girl says.

Miss Leno is the librarian's name.

"Jason, here," Miss Leno is saying. "Sit here. You can use this computer."

But I can't use that computer. I don't want to. I can't. My breathing is too loud inside my ears. I stiffen my body, solidify my weight, so she can't move me with her hands. You'd be surprised at how quickly people will try to move you with their hands when they don't get what they want with their words.

I wish Jane were here with me right now and then this wouldn't happen. Words don't always work.

"Jason, hold still. There's no need to get so upset. There are plenty of other computers."

Miss Leno is trying to shift my weight off my feet, and she's trying to pretend she's not, as if she's just walking with me, instead of pushing me, which is what she's doing.

"Jason, please." But she doesn't mean please. There is no please in anything Miss Leno is asking. She is pulling me.

I feel off balance, like I am going to fall. I need to shift my weight back and forth, back and forth, rock to stabilize myself. I can feel my chance to use my computer getting further and further away from me. There isn't even enough time left in the period. I might not get to log on at all, even if this girl does get up. A hundred little pieces threaten to come apart.

"Jason, please, calm down. Calm down." Miss Leno's voice sounds like a Xerox machine.

Sometimes there is nothing to hold me together.

Copyright © 2009 by Nora Raleigh Baskin

Reading Group Guide


Synopsis:

Jason Blake is anything but typical. He tells his story in his own language, that of an autistic twelve-year-old boy. He is intelligent and sensitive, with many special gifts, and he is different. We learn of his sensitivity and "differentness" as he writes about his life and describes his world. Through his writing, which he posts on a writing website, he meets another young writer, Rebecca, who responds to the post of his story. Jason is intrigued with this girl in his life and fantasizes about her being his girlfriend. Jason's challenges in school, socially, and at home all portray his difficulty in navigating normal life situations. Complicating his life is his desire to have a girlfriend, and his fear of meeting Rebecca and of her rejection becomes almost too much for Jason. By facing his fear and meeting Rebecca, he is able to grow and ultimately accept himself.

Discussion questions:

1) How do we know, right from the beginning of the book, that Jason is not a typical twelve-year-old? Name some of the characteristics he exhibits. Are these behaviors things you have seen before?

2) The letters NLD, nonverbal learning disorder, and ASD, autistic spectrum disorder, are labels used to identify the symptoms Jason displays. Describe what it would be like to have a conversation with Jason.

3) Does it seem that Jason has a hard time understanding what other people are doing or asking of him? Give an example of a communication from Jason's point of view. What things does he notice? What things are hard for him to tolerate? What things doesn't he notice or respond to?

4) What are some of the techniques his therapist suggests he use in order to communicate with NT (neurotypical) people? Do you think these are easy or hard for Jason to do?

5) What does Jason do well? What is he particularly knowledgeable about?

6) Describe Jacob's relationship with his mother, father, and younger brother Jeremy. How has Jason learned to communicate with each of them? What do they do that makes communication with Jason possible? What about his relationships with his aunt, uncle, cousins, therapists, teachers, and librarian? Who is most successful communicating with Jason?

7) Jason's writing, and his use of the writing website, is an outlet that allows him to be anonymous and to be known to others without their awareness of his autism. What do we learn about Jason from his writings?

8) When Jason and Rebecca begin to correspond on the writing website, how does it affect Jason's life? Is he successful in sharing this relationship with others? How does it change how he feels about himself?

9) Through the dialogue in the book, we get insight into how Jason's mind works. Describe the difference between how Jason perceives things and how his "more normal" brother, Jeremy, does.

10) In Chapter 10, Jason is sent home from school, after causing a huge disruption in art class. Everything about the episode shows us who Jason is and how he perceives his surroundings. Describe how Jason experienced the events of art class, and then present the point of view of the teacher and other students. Finally, once Jason is at home, how do his parents see it? We also find out more about how he feels about his parents. What does he tell us about his dad? His mom?

11) In his story about Bennu the dwarf, Jason explores the possibility of a person being fixed of the thing that makes them different. What parallels can you draw between Bennu and Jason?

12) When Jason's parents reward him with a trip to the Storyboard convention, and he finds out Rebecca is attending as well, describe the dilemma that Jason faces. What is his biggest fear? How would you handle facing the same fear of exposing who you really are to someone you liked?

13) How did Jason end up going to the convention? What does he tell us about his relationships with his dad and mom?

14) What happens to Jason after he meets Rebecca? Is Jason's reaction to Rebecca understandable? If you were Rebecca and had just met Jason, how do you think you would react? What questions would you ask yourself?

15) During the convention Jason says that he will never write again. He feels himself shutting down. Do you think that he will continue to write?

16) What happens in the writing workshop that turns Jason around? How is he able to communicate with Rebecca the last time they see each other?

17) How does Jason use Bennu to show his own happy ending? Do you think Jason has also accepted himself?

18) What makes a person who they are? Is it how they look, what they wear, how they act? Does Jason know that he is different from other children?

19) Is Jason's family able to accept him as he is? Does Rebecca accept him? Does that help Jason accept himself? Explain why or why not.

20) Through Jason's voice, we can experience the thoughts and perceptions of an autistic child. Do you think readers of this story will have a better understanding of autism? Support this position, using examples from the book that help explain autism.

Activities:

1) Many young people use writing as a way of sharing who they are: it helps them find a voice that they don't have in talking with people. Try writing something that reveals something about yourself that you may find difficult to tell but that you can write about. The expression that Jason experiences from writing frees him from some of his limitations. What do you feel as you express yourself in your writing?

2) Autism, or autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), is a complex and unique way of decoding the world. On the following website you can find out more about the disorder and how it affects people: nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/asd.cfm

The signs or symptoms of autism can include:

  • Problems with communication -- both verbal and nonverbal
  • Difficulties with sharing emotions, understanding how others think and feel, and holding a conversation
  • Routines or repetitive behaviors -- such as repeating words or actions, obsessively following routines or schedules, and playing in repetitive ways.
  • This reading group guide has been provided by Simon & Schuster for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes. Prepared by JoAnn Jonas, MLS, Youth Services librarian, reviewer, and Children's and Teen Library Services consultant.

    Introduction

    Synopsis:

    Jason Blake is anything but typical. He tells his story in his own language, that of an autistic twelve-year-old boy. He is intelligent and sensitive, with many special gifts, and he is different. We learn of his sensitivity and "differentness" as he writes about his life and describes his world. Through his writing, which he posts on a writing website, he meets another young writer, Rebecca, who responds to the post of his story. Jason is intrigued with this girl in his life and fantasizes about her being his girlfriend. Jason's challenges in school, socially, and at home all portray his difficulty in navigating normal life situations. Complicating his life is his desire to have a girlfriend, and his fear of meeting Rebecca and of her rejection becomes almost too much for Jason. By facing his fear and meeting Rebecca, he is able to grow and ultimately accept himself.

    Discussion questions:

    1) How do we know, right from the beginning of the book, that Jason is not a typical twelve-year-old? Name some of the characteristics he exhibits. Are these behaviors things you have seen before?

    2) The letters NLD, nonverbal learning disorder, and ASD, autistic spectrum disorder, are labels used to identify the symptoms Jason displays. Describe what it would be like to have a conversation with Jason.

    3) Does it seem that Jason has a hard time understanding what other people are doing or asking of him? Give an example of a communication from Jason's point of view. What things does he notice? What things are hard for him to tolerate? What things doesn't he notice or respond to?

    4) What are some of the techniques his therapist suggests he use in order tocommunicate with NT (neurotypical) people? Do you think these are easy or hard for Jason to do?

    5) What does Jason do well? What is he particularly knowledgeable about?

    6) Describe Jacob's relationship with his mother, father, and younger brother Jeremy. How has Jason learned to communicate with each of them? What do they do that makes communication with Jason possible? What about his relationships with his aunt, uncle, cousins, therapists, teachers, and librarian? Who is most successful communicating with Jason?

    7) Jason's writing, and his use of the writing website, is an outlet that allows him to be anonymous and to be known to others without their awareness of his autism. What do we learn about Jason from his writings?

    8) When Jason and Rebecca begin to correspond on the writing website, how does it affect Jason's life? Is he successful in sharing this relationship with others? How does it change how he feels about himself?

    9) Through the dialogue in the book, we get insight into how Jason's mind works. Describe the difference between how Jason perceives things and how his "more normal" brother, Jeremy, does.

    10) In Chapter 10, Jason is sent home from school, after causing a huge disruption in art class. Everything about the episode shows us who Jason is and how he perceives his surroundings. Describe how Jason experienced the events of art class, and then present the point of view of the teacher and other students. Finally, once Jason is at home, how do his parents see it? We also find out more about how he feels about his parents. What does he tell us about his dad? His mom?

    11) In his story about Bennu the dwarf, Jason explores the possibility of a person being fixed of the thing that makes them different. What parallels can you draw between Bennu and Jason?

    12) When Jason's parents reward him with a trip to the Storyboard convention, and he finds out Rebecca is attending as well, describe the dilemma that Jason faces. What is his biggest fear? How would you handle facing the same fear of exposing who you really are to someone you liked?

    13) How did Jason end up going to the convention? What does he tell us about his relationships with his dad and mom?

    14) What happens to Jason after he meets Rebecca? Is Jason's reaction to Rebecca understandable? If you were Rebecca and had just met Jason, how do you think you would react? What questions would you ask yourself?

    15) During the convention Jason says that he will never write again. He feels himself shutting down. Do you think that he will continue to write?

    16) What happens in the writing workshop that turns Jason around? How is he able to communicate with Rebecca the last time they see each other?

    17) How does Jason use Bennu to show his own happy ending? Do you think Jason has also accepted himself?

    18) What makes a person who they are? Is it how they look, what they wear, how they act? Does Jason know that he is different from other children?

    19) Is Jason's family able to accept him as he is? Does Rebecca accept him? Does that help Jason accept himself? Explain why or why not.

    20) Through Jason's voice, we can experience the thoughts and perceptions of an autistic child. Do you think readers of this story will have a better understanding of autism? Support this position, using examples from the book that help explain autism.

    Activities:

    1) Many young people use writing as a way of sharing who they are: it helps them find a voice that they don't have in talking with people. Try writing something that reveals something about yourself that you may find difficult to tell but that you can write about. The expression that Jason experiences from writing frees him from some of his limitations. What do you feel as you express yourself in your writing?

    2) Autism, or autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), is a complex and unique way of decoding the world. On the following website you can find out more about the disorder and how it affects people: www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/asd.cfm

    The signs or symptoms of autism can include:

  • Problems with communication — both verbal and nonverbal
  • Difficulties with sharing emotions, understanding how others think and feel, and holding a conversation
  • Routines or repetitive behaviors — such as repeating words or actions, obsessively following routines or schedules, and playing in repetitive ways.
  • This reading group guide has been provided by Simon & Schuster for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes. Prepared by JoAnn Jonas, MLS, Youth Services librarian, reviewer, and Children's and Teen Library Services consultant.

    Nora Raleigh Baskin was chosen as a Publishers Weekly Flying Start for her novel What Every Girl (Except Me) Knows. She is the author of four novels for middle-graders and teens, including her new novel, The Truth About My Bat Mitzvah, published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. Nora lives with her family in Weston, Connecticut.

    Customer Reviews

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    Anything But Typical 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 106 reviews.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for something a bit different from the ordinary. It will make you think, it will make you dream, it will make you believe in all that can be possible.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This is an amazing book. I have a cousin with autisum and it made me respect and understand him better than ever before!
    Samantha Sierakowski More than 1 year ago
    I love this author. She takes the time to research whatever she is writing and turns it into an enjoyable read!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    As having an older brother with autism, tuberuscerlosis, and many other health problems, I thought this book was amazing! If you are intrested in this subject I also reccomend the book, RULES.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    The person who said he has adhd is wrong he has autism and this book was really god and touched my heart!¿
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This book is not only good but it has a meaning that no one could say this any better! Now i understand how the people feel! Like their no buddy...wow! I love this book! Seny from my nook
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    If you want a great book then you are lookig at it. This is a sad but happy. Its heart wrenching. I am sure you will enjoy this book. This book will make you view not only the world and people differently, it will make you view yourself differently. All i can say is i love this book. What about you? LIVE LEARN LOVEc
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I have read this book over 3 times and learn something unique and different each time i read it!(:
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I really liked the book it reminded me of a book callednout of my mind whitch is about an autistic girl.Both stories help non autistics or nuerotypicals in jason's veiw see inside an autistic mind.See that they think about the same things that we do that they are not as dome as they seem and sometimes smarter
    soccerchic7 More than 1 year ago
    This is an amazing Book! I think every one will enjoy it
    Carolyn Witkowski More than 1 year ago
    I loved this book. Read it or you wouldnt have lived life! I highly recommend this to anyone age 9+
    aorzga815 More than 1 year ago
    This book gives readers insight to the struggles and challenges that students with autism deal with on a daily basis. Written from the point of view of Jason, a twelve year old autistic boy, the book does a remarkable job portraying his life. He strives to have normal relationships and friendships, but finds it difficult due to his disorder. The book can be a little bit confusing at times because it is hard to tell the difference between his thoughts and what is actually happening in the book. Jason's only escape from the world is his writing - it's the only thing that calms him down and gives him great joy. The book makes you appreciate the patience and kindness that his mom, dad, and brother have. As a general education teacher, I would recommend this book to other educators. I don't have a lot of experience working with autistic children, but I feel like the book makes you understand this disorder from a new perspective. Overall, a great read with a heartfelt message.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This book gives a wonderful, realistic insight into how a kid in the autism spectrum works from the inside, without being trite or condescending. He wants many of the same things all kids want, but he just operates a bit differently. As an elementary school librarian, I work with a variety of children with many personalities and needs, and this book showed me how sometimes what adults think is the obvious way of helping a child can be exactly what he doesn't need. A must read for educators on all levels. A great pairing with Cynthia Lord's "Rules" for upper elementary or middle school discussion. My fifth grade son loves it and has read it several times. It not only validates any child's feelings that he and his problems are unique, but also gives a window into how everyone has their own inner motivations and compensations to get through their days, which often cause misunderstandings with the parents in their lives. Then ending is somewhat obvious to adults, but the right way to end. The cover art on the hardcover is lovely--the paperback might appeal or put off some kids.
    WriterOfAngels More than 1 year ago
    This book intrigued me by page one. The daily struggled of the main charicter makes me want to cry! I read through this in only three days, I recoment this to anyone who wants a read of all you can want!
    meggyweg on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    I think this is a pretty good portrayal of how a high-functioning autistic boy would think and act. I have Asperger's Syndrome, so they say, and although I do better than Jason I can recognize a lot of my problems in him. The conflict with the story convention is well done and I thought the ending was perfect -- hopeful, and realistic. Very good story overall, and it just might make NT readers a little more sympathetic and understanding towards people with autism.
    jkessluk on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    A fantastic book about a twelve year old with autism, written in his views about the difficulties of his life. It is great to hear the challenges that Jason Blake goes through, from trying to control his occasionally uncontrollable arms to the challenges of making friends, let alone a girl friend. The book goes back and forth as he tells about his life, which does get confusing but I believe it enhances the story. I would recommend this in any young classroom so that they could see what troubles these children with disabilities go through in life.
    jadaykennedy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Before I wrote this review I did something I do not normally do. I read someone else¿s review. Prior to reading this review I was prepared to sing the book¿s praises. After, I was less enthusiastic. The other review was written by an autistic person. Surprised by their opinion and review I listened to the book one more time. So my review is based on this person¿s observations and critique and my opinion of the book. The other review ranked the book as a three out of five.In the book ¿Anything But Typical,¿ Baskin sheds light on the behaviors ¿neuro-typicals¿ view as odd. Insight into why an autistic person may not respond when addressed by people, flap their hands, pull their own hair, rock, etc¿ make sense. There is an extraordinary amount of introspection on the part of the autistic child, Jason. Per an autistic reviewer, autistic people do not self analyze their own actions and reactions incessantly. Jason is an autistic child attempting to integrate into mainstream society. Online he has anonymity and has caught the eye of a girl. She applauds his writing skill and engages him in an email friendship. I had a similar experience when I took classes online. In the ¿real world¿ he can¿t be just an average kid. Other people perceive him as odd and don¿t understand his ticks and reactions.Autism appears in many degrees. The autistic person may be severely socially inept or they could have minor problems and areas of difficulty. The book is about a more severe case of autism. The boy struggles with his autism in order to fit into the neuro-typical world. His loving family strives to love, support and understand him. The actions and reactions of others that interact with Jason show the confusion and misunderstanding of this condition.I¿m very tolerant of others with disabilities and illnesses. I suppose that is partially due to my own condition. I have a better understanding of what causes the ¿odd¿ actions of autistic people. This book will do more than make people tolerant. It will foster understanding of an enigmatic condition. I would recommend the book.¿¿¿¿
    Mardel on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    The book is written in first person, from the point of view of a boy with autism. He talks about the present, as well as the past. He has a word - a different word every day - that comes to him while he's getting ready for school every morning. Usually, this certain word will pertain to things that happen to him that day.The boy, Jason, has quite a sense of humor though he cannot handle situations with too much stimuli, people, noises, large or too small of spaces. Some of his ways of coping are to cinch his belt as tight as he can, flap his hands around in the air, etc. He also has sudden fits of rage, usually when he's been pushed too far by other kids.One of Jason's hobbies is writing - in fact words in general have a lot of meaning to him. It's very important for him to get on his computer at a certain time each day, and he has a ritual for turning on his computer. He gets on a storyboard site and writes stories and has begun an online friendship with another writer.I loved Jason's point of view, his perspective of his family, of the teachers at school - some of whom seem just as troubled as they accuse him of being, and of the other students at school. The descriptions of his stressed out moments really bring home to me what it must feel like to be oversensitive to the environment, and at the same time have difficulty seeing other faces. He avoids looking at faces, just listens to voices and watches the body movements of others.Though I've seen, over the years, many books with Nora Baskin's name on them, I've never actually read one of her novels. But I just couldn't pass this one up, and I'm glad that I decided to read this to the fifth grade class. I'm also surprised, pleasantly surprised at this class. I thought that they would be impatient or not quite understanding or empathetic of this narrative voice, but they seem to be hanging on the words as I read them out loud. Sometimes I ask them a question, like why do they think he feels a certain way at a certain moment and I'm impressed with their answers, with their interpretation of his actions and feelings. This is a great book to share with a class or with your own children, if you're the parent who reads with their kids. I think classes should have more books like this on their required reading lists, than some of the outdated books that they use year after year. At the least they should add this one as required reading- it's entertaining at the same time it teaches about bigotry (against conditions rather than race), impatience and bravery. Because this kid is brave, to go back everyday to school.
    catmb on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Excellent, easy to read book for all ages that gives a fabulous insight into the mind of a boy with Aspergers Syndrome - especially how he relates to his peers in school and his family and how he learns to adapt to living everyday in a 'NT' world.
    ALelliott on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    This is one of the most beautifully written books I have ever read. Jason is a twelve year old boy with autism, growing up and trying to figure out the neurotypical world around him. Isolated from his peers, Jason loses himself in his writing. He posts his work on a fanfic website, where it draws the attention of a girl his own age. Over the internet, the two form a tenuous friendship, and Jason revels in having a new friend. But when they have the opportunity to meet at a writer's convention, Jason fears that the girl, Rebecca, will only see his autism and not the boy inside.What is unique about this book is that Raleigh Baskin tells it from Jason's point of view, but she does so in such a way that Jason's voice is at once unique, authentic, and completely recognizable to anyone who has ever struggled to fit in. This is a good recommendation both for kids with and without autism, as it will make readers think about what it means to be different, but even the most neurotypical kid will find something to identify with in Jason. A wonderful book for upper grade kids.For ages 10 and up.
    darlingdumpling on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    A very interesting, unique perspective- a child with Autism written in first person. Unsure if story authentic to actual experience of being in autism spectrum but is a really different view and will help kids to identify with traits that are present in all types of people- comfort/discomfort, worry, etc.
    CircusTrain on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    5Q 4P - sadly the award and the topic may cut back on the popularity - hopefully not.
    ewyatt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Jason, a talented writer, talks about his life and his challenges at school and at home because he isn't a NT (neurotypical). He's autistic. While he can knows what people expect of him in terms of behavior and speech, he finds that he often can not or does not want to behave that way. He loves to write and posts his work frequently to Storyboard, and meets an online friend, Rebecca. A quick read. Jason is an interesting narrator and provides a different voice. Jason has some commonalities with Marcelo (Marcelo in the Real World) and this book will be much more accessible to younger readers - a quicker read.I'd like to know what type of research the author did to position herself to write from this point of view. How did she gain her insight into autism?
    SJKessel on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Baskin, N.R. (2009). Anything But Typical. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.195 pages.Appetizer: 12-year-old Jason Blake is good with words. He's a writer. And posting his stories on an online story website is the way that he engages with people. He has trouble speaking to people in person and expressing his emotions because he is autistic. He thinks that because he has trouble expressing what he feels, many neurotypicals, like his classmates, assume he doesn't feel. Most people try to keep their distance from him and Jason silently believes that he'll never have a girlfriend.But then, when Jason goes to check for comments on his latest story online, he discovers a nice comment. A nice comment from a girl! A girl named PhoenixBird who seems to want to be his friend.As Jason and PhoenixBird continue to talk online, his parents inform him that they'll let him go to the storyboard website's annual conference. While normally this would be a dream come true for Jason, it causes him to worry. What if he sees PhoenixBird there? Will she still want to be his friend when she sees that he's different from most of the kids their age? That he has trouble holding still? Nora Raleigh Baskin does an AMAZING job of entering Jason's perspective. He's a wonderfully believable character. Jason is regularly bullied and taken advantage of by some of his classmates and Baskin does a great job of describing Jason's experiences in a fair manner. I can see why this book was one of the Schneider award winners this year.Throughout the book, there are wonderful moments when Jason describes the craft of writing. Because of these moments, I'd probably pair reading this book aloud with having students write their own stories, paying attention to the tensions, the perspective and tools students use to tell the story.I very intentionally say I'd use this book as a read aloud because there are a lot of moments throughout the book that I think a teacher needs to encourage students to discuss the content or provide some background: What autism is, the way the book jumps back and forth through time, the vocabulary, the way gender is presented, the way some of the characters feel about Jason and his feelings toward him, etc.This is one of those books, which, while it's technically middle grade, it can also be used with young adults.I assigned this to my undergrads to read and their reactions. The vast majority liked it and were impressed by Jason's perspective. They threw comments around about how this book can help educate readers on autism, how to interact with autistic people, etc. There was a lot of really great and deep discussion. Plus, the book is less angsty than Mockingbird (which I was considering using next quarter, especially since it was recently named a National Book Award finalist). Monica and I discussed it a few months ago.But I'm sorry, Mockingbird. I think I'm sticking with Anything But Typical for the time being.Dinner Conversation: "Most people like to talk in their own language.They strongly prefer it. They so strongly prefer it that when they go to a foreign country they just talk louder, maybe slower, because they think they will be better understood. But more than talking in their own language, people like to hear things in a way they are most comfortable. The way they are used to. The way they can most easily relate to, as if that makes it more real. So I will try to tell this story in that way.And I will tell this story in first person.I not he. Me not him. Mine not his.In a neurotypical way.I will try--To tell my story in their language, in your language." (p. 1)."Why do people want everyone to act just like they do? Talk like they do. Look like they do. Act like they do.And if you don't--If you don't, people make the assumption that you do not feel what they feel.And then they make the assumption--That you must not feel anything at all" (p.14)."I read the comment one more time.B
    countrylife on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Love the cover on my copy of Anything But Typical, so suggestive of the contents of the book ¿ swirling thoughts of a child. This novel is written in the voice of twelve-year old Jason, an autist, who is learning to ¿fit in¿ in a regular middle school. His story is told by voicing his thoughts to the reader. I listened to this book on audio and thought that was a particularly effective device for hearing the thoughts of a young person with the condition. Jason lets us know what happens each day, the thoughts that accompany the events, what he has been instructed to do to face these situations, how he feels during them, how he interacts with his classmates and his parents. It provided a lot of insight into the difficult life of an autistic person trying to make it in a neuro-typical world.I don¿t have anything with which to compare, but thought that the characterization was superb. Nicely written and very informative.