Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 22 Jan 2019

Member Reviews

I've recently been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and I found this book to be very interesting. It's not one I would sit and read cover to cover but rather keep around and dive into the sections I need as and when I need them
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This book is a great tool for anyone looking for a layman's terms guide to understanding Asperger's and Autism as a whole. Reitman did a great job of sharing his story as well as presenting a betting way of understanding autism and how to help those with the diagnosis.
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Aspertools:  The Practical Guide for Understanding and Embracing Asperger's, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and Neurodiversity
By Harold Reitman, M.D. with Pati Fizzano and Rebecca Reitman

April 2015


Although this book was published in 2015, I received a complimentary digital copy from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review. 
December 2017

Honestly, it was interesting for me to read the mixed reviews when the book was first published. Many comments expressed frustration that there are no “tools” in Aspertools.  I think the rest of the title explains more precisely the purpose of the book: “The Practical Guide for Understanding and Embracing Asperger's, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and Neurodiversity”. It’s more of a guide written from a father’s perspective of the journey he experienced with his daughter. 

“In other words, don’t view the Aspertools in this book as designed to help someone who has Asperger’s; view them as designed to help an individual who has many special qualities and who also happens to have a few Asperger’s traits, or even the whole enchilada we call Asperger’s syndrome.”

It is often difficult for people to understand and embrace the challenges that both the child and parent experience life with “neurodiversity”.  I also found comments in other reviews interesting regarding the author’s reference to his own self importance. As a parent with a child possessing such unique individual qualities, I can understand how one can feel “lost or forgotten” while immersed in the care of a gifted child. I am also a well educated medical professional who often feels inept with the overwhelming responsibility to ensure my child succeeds.
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Helped a lot personally and professionally.  Use these tool with my son as well as my clients. Definately glad i snagged this book
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In the preface of this book, the author describes asking a college president friend what he considers the biggest problem with the education system in the U.S. The friend replied it was that children are placed in the same classroom for the simple reason they were born in the same year when not all children of any one age, are wired the same way.  The notion of “different” wiring is easily seen in children with high function autism. Although, the term “Aspergers” is no longer officially used to describe people with high functioning autism, it continues to be associated with a specific set of traits and behaviors. These include hypersensitivity, physical and social awkwardness, inattention, and poor organizational and time management skills.  This book offers parents of “aspies” methods to help them become more tuned into their child’s unique way of perceiving the world, and provides them concrete steps to help their child manage in a world they may often find overwhelming.
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Aspertools: The Practical Guide for Understanding and Embracing Aspergers, Autism Spectrum Disorder and Neurodiversity
by Harold Reitman 
HCI Books

Many parents, siblings and caretakers have, at one time, had a child with autism and have struggled to reach that child. This is a concise and thorough guide, written by a parent of a child with Aspergers, not as a professional authority, to share what he has learned from working with his amazing daughter, Rebecca. 
Rebecca has Aspergers, had 23 brain tumors and underwent 2 major brain surgeries at the Mayo Clinic as a toddler. She went on to be accepted to the prestigious University of Georgia where she earned a degree in Discrete Mathematics. She then decided she wanted to work with others with Aspergers, and has been working with them since.
This gives you a complete understanding of how the person with Aspergers feels as well as suggestions of how to help them deal with it, and help you to deal with it as well. 
One of the biggest problems in education is that we divide children into classrooms not based on their abilities or strengths but by the year of their birth. The one size fits all approach does not work and is especially obvious when working with Autism. 
Enlightening and positive, this is a must have guide. Its clear, no-nonsense approach could work with many children.
Thank you to HCI Books for sending this for review.
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In this book written by Dr Reitman he talks about life with neurotypical and neuro diverse people in our lives.  He believes that labels aren't needed because all brains really are different.  With his daughter Rebecca and her coach Pati Fizzano they talk about ways to help get through all kinds of situations with love and patience.  
For me this book was very well written, each chapter dealing with different aspects of situations you might encounter with someone on the spectrum.  Each chapter is broken into 3 parts; the first part is Dr. Reitman  explaining the character trait and examples of how he did not deal well with it when Rebecca was younger. The second section is from Pati Fizzano as a special needs teacher and how best to deal with the situations from her perspective; and the last part is from Rebecca.  Rebecca explains from her perspective as a neurodiverse woman and child what she was dealing with and how to handle those situations.  
As a mother of someone on the spectrum it was very helpful to see all sides. As Rebecca and Pati point out it is not always easy for people to explain why they react to  certain things the way they do.  Throughout the book patience and love are stronger encouraged. 
This book is very insightful and reassuring.  I believe I have taken away a better understanding of neurodiverse characteristics, and in the end no matter whether someone you love is on the spectrum of not love a nd patience is most important.
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Was initially very excited to read this book, but unfortunately i could not finish it,  Its written about neurotypical people and I was so hoping this book would explore further.  Its good for explaining to others how the nt may feel but not for the person with aspergers.  I found it a bit frustrating which is why I didnt finish it.
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I would recommend Aspertools for anyone that has, works with or knows someone with Asperger's Syndrome. 

Having a preteen with Asperger's diagnosed several years ago, this book is an asset to us as parents. It has very easily put into place tips and tools for living life with an Aspie. It includes different perspectives and gives us a glimpse into the world of an individual with Asperger's. 

Highly recommend for parents and educators!

Special thanks to Netgalley and HCI Books for an opportunity to read and review this book.
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This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

Subtitled "The Practical Guide for Understanding and Embracing Asperger's, Autism Spectrum, and Neurodiversity" this book is aimed at understanding and learning how to deal with these conditions. Asperger syndrome (AS) is named after the Austrian pediatrician Hans Asperger who described children with the features 1944. It's thought to affect some forty million people worldwide.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a range of conditions classified as neurodevelopmental disorders. This syndrome includes Asperger's, but this author refers primarily to Aspergers, and makes little mention of Autism. The word itself comes from the Greek word autos, meaning self or same. It's this same root that appears in autobiography, autopilot, and so on.

This book is available in both print and electronic format, but I have to say once again that the Kindle version is a disaster! The PDF version was much more readable, but I read most of this in Kindle because I always have my phone with me and it was more convenient to read it there.

This is a book which was designed for print format, evidently without an ounce of thought being given to how it would appear as an ebook. Amateur reviewers like me do not merit a print version, and it's fine because I'd rather have the trees than the pages, but it does mean that we have to put up with some pretty rough-and unready versions of books from time to time. It's well known that turning a print format book into a Kindle book to be read on Amazon's crappy Kindle app will as likely ruin it as render it readable if great care isn't taken.

I recommend using B&N's Nook or PDF format. Anything but Kindle, which in my experience will destroy any book that isn't formatted in the blandest and most vanilla of manners. Full disclosure: I am an arch enemy of Amazon not only for the fact that they're too big and powerful, but for their business practices (or lack of same) and also from my personal dealings with them on my own projects. I will never do business with them again, and neither will my estate when I;m gone, so if you think I'm biased, you're perfectly correct! That doesn't alter the fact that Kindle is for crap though as I shall hereinafter demonstrate.

Note though that this was an ARC, and one;s hope is that these issues will be fixed before the published e-version is released lest it become an aversion, but how it came to be this way in the first place is something that demands investigation. From page one this book was literally all over the place, with misaligned text, random red text in places whereas the rest of the text was white on my phone. I set my phone this way to save on power drain: white text on a black background uses less energy than the reverse, but switching it to black text on white background made no difference to the issues I'm discussing here.

The contents followed straight on from the book details page with no break, and the word 'contents' was randomly capitalized so that it read: COnTEnTS. The FOREwORd and the ACknOwLEdgmEnTS were just as bad. You can see a trend there: d, g, m, n, w are all lower case. Everything else is upper case. Why? I have no idea, but the Kindle conversion 'process' is well-known to me for this kind of inexplicable mangling of books.

This was followed by a truly poorly formatted contents list in which nothing was aligned. Some of the text was blue, indicating a link, and tapping that took you to the correct page, but there was no way to get back to the contents from that page since it wasn't linked in reverse. The real problem though, was that only a few contents items were actually linked - the rest was plain white text and tapping on it achieved nothing, other than swiping the screen if you tapped too close to the edge, of course!

There were multiple images of snowflakes separating each section of the book because every snowflake is different, right? That's actually not true (there are identical snowflakes!), but this was used as a metaphor for each brain being different, which I do buy. The problem from a formatting point of view was that while these snowflakes looked pretty and elegant in the iPad, in the Kindle version they were a complete disaster.

When you reverse the colors (white text on black background), the blobby snowflakes stand out like a sore thumb. Worse than this, they're all over the place: spread over three or more screens instead of being confined to one dividing screen - again a problem with the formatting for the ebook being ignored completely. Several instances of these snowflakes spread across five screens! That's way too much real estate for a frivolous affectation which ought to have been dispensed with in the ebook version.

I recommend reading the PDF format rather than the sad Amazon format which is all Kindled up - that is unless the actual published version has all these problems fixed. In the iPad, the image of the snowflakes makes sense - it's in the shape of a brain and part of the spinal cord. If this had been one small image instead of apparently being composed of multiple tiles, then it would have looked a lot better on the smart phone than it does in the ARC that I got.

The book has a preface and an introduction, both of which I ignored as is my habit. They almost never contribute anything worth reading in my experience, so I routinely skip them. I prefer my introduction to be chapter one, so that's where I started. Everything else is nothing but pretention and OCD addiction to tradition. The chapters have chapter quotes which are another no-no to me and I skipped those, too. If you have to quote someone else to make your case for you, you're not making your case.

I assume the print version has drop-caps. Frankly I've never seen the point of these even in a print book, but they should have been eliminated for the ebook version because what we got instead was, on the first screen for chapter one: some left over snowflakes, the chapter number and title, a thick line, a quote from Mark Twain - a well-known expert on Autism - not!, another thick line, an anonymous quote, another thick line, a 'helpful hint' which was really just common sense, an apparently random number 7 (which may or may not have been a footnote, and which doesn't work in an ebook - better to have a tap-able link instead), and finally the start of the chapter - at the very bottom of the screen. The start of the chapter was the letter E. That's it. That's all. The next screen contained the rest of the truncated word which was evidently intended to be 'Every'. Drop-caps should be dropped. Literally, but especially so in ebooks.

Throughout the book, people on the autism spectrum were referred to as 'Aspies' which seemed really condescending to me. I don't know if this is considered a term of endearment or otherwise acceptable within that community, but repeatedly reading phrases like " might not be true of your Aspie..." just sounded wrong to me - like these people were objects to be owned rather than individuals who needed careful consideration. That's just my feeling on the topic.

The author's daughter (Rebecca Reitman) adds sections here and there with her own thoughts since she has to cope with this condition, and these are listed under the title 'thought from rebecca reitman' - and that's exactly how it's headed in the Kindle version: all lower case, no differentiation with font, which even Amazon's crappy Kindle app can usually handle. It was really hard to see where these sections began and ended.

There was a similar problem with the other contributor, Pati Fizzano, a teacher of autism spectrum kids, whose contributions were fine in the iPad, but which seemed always to be competing among those annoying snowflakes for attention in the Kindle version on my smartphone. Once again, the book was formatted for the printed page and apparently zero thought was given to the experience that ebook users, who might want the convenience of reading on their phone, would be subject to.

Those complaints aside, the book did contain educational and useful content which is well worth knowing. The topics were rather repetitive, and while it never hurts to reinforce ideas, especially with someone who is on the spectrum, as a reader I did find myself wondering from time to time whether the book was actually aimed at those who wished to at least understand (as it was in my case) and help people with these disorders, or whether it was aimed at people who actually had these disorders!

I was reminded several times of assorted things, for example, that Rebecca Reitman had “...twenty-three vascular tumors in her brain," and also had "two life-saving [against all odds] brain surgeries...” While I sympathize and really feel for anyone who is in that kind of situation, telling me something like that once really makes an impact. I wasn't likely to forget it! Repeatedly telling me was more likely to make me honestly wish I'd never heard it! This wasn't the only thing that was repeated.

Anyway, the topics covered were these:

Hypersenses: Senses on Steroids
Observation: Elementary, My Dear Watson
The Meltdown
The Safe Place
Rudeness, Truth Telling, and Manners
Structure and Positive Activities
Obsessions and Hyper-Interests
Social Awkwardness
Limit Choices to Avoid "No!"
Instilling Street Smarts
Taking Things Literally: "Why Did They Say I'm Not Playing With a Full Deck?"
Specifics: Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say
Preventing Overwhelm: Breaking Down Big Jobs Into Smaller Tasks
Setting Goals
Rules, Rewards, and Consequences
Checklists: The Indispensable Tool
Time management: Tools for getting 139 Your Aspie to Be on Time
Overlapping Conditions
It's Not About You
Love Unconditionally
Note that the '139' in the 'Time Management' section is actually in the contents list - it's a page number that's out of place.

There's an afterword, which I also skipped as I do all afterwords, epilogues, etc. There are three appendices chock full of resources and references.

Despite all of the formatting issues and the repetitiveness in parts, I really enjoyed reading this. it was interesting, educational, and sometimes heartbreaking, and I commend it as a worthy read. This isn't the first book I've read on this topic, so much of it I already knew, but it was nice to be remind! Much of it is actually nothing more than common sense when you learn a few things about people with these conditions, and there's the rub: it's not like they have a sign, or they're in a wheelchair, or have a certain 'look' about them.

It's not like they're missing a limb, or are carrying a white stick, or wearing a hearing aid, but it would behoove everyone to give anyone who is behaving - to our routine eyes - slightly oddly, because it may well be someone like this who needs our concern and compassion, not our Trump-mentality, knee-jerk condemnation. I enjoyed the comments by the authors daughter, even though they usually echoed what I'd read in the preceding chapter. They were delightfully blunt and to the point, and I would definitely read a biography if she wrote one. I think it would be interesting. In the absence of that, this book does an excellent job of opening eyes and hearts to people who need our understanding and support.
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I found this title to be helpful Most did not apply to my own situation, however it was an interesting read.
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This book is a great resource for anyone who has Aspergers, who lives or works with someone who does, or simply wants to be acquainted with it to better understand it since everyone likely knows at least one person who has Aspergers. 

My brother has Aspergers and there was a lot of things growing up that we knew were different about him, yet since it is high functioning, he wasn't obviously autistic, and was sometimes prone to teasing. Many people do not realize that certain eccentricities are tell tell signs of it and just call a person "weird". The greater awareness of the general public is a great thing not only because it can help in diagnosis, but it can also help those with it avoid teasing as others understand what they are going through and that is, in large part, beyond their control. 

This book does just that! It explains things from different perspectives and explains how those with Aspergers typically get along in school and work and public in general. It also explains the nuances of their personality that others may not understand. 

This is a great read that I will be referring back to as needed!
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This book, written by a neurotypical person, is helpful on a basic level for those who are parents or care takers of individuals with aspergers. Harold Reitman writes this book as hes looking back on his relationship with his daughter after learning more about her diagnosis. For those new to the diagnoses it offers a way in to understanding the basics of how those with aspergers experience daily life and its struggles. It touches on many different challenges (from time management to emotional regulation and more) and offers solutions that can be applied to those with a large range of executive dysfunction (like ADHD) or learning disabilities outside of an aspergers diagnosis as well. 

Unfortunately, he does not offer any revelatory "aspertools" for the individuals with aspergers themselves and often comes off as patronizing as if the parent is the one who needs to regulate everything for their child. This is discourteous to those who deal with executive dysfunction in their own lives, and may seem to be dis-empowering if you are an aspie reading this yourself. Reitman could have done more to offer tools to those diagnosed themselves by including his daughter more heavily in the making of this book, but instead went the route of the "no-longer-clueless" parent pedestal. He does however include insights from her and her aid at the ends of each section which offers a lot in the way of personal insight to his methods. 

Overall this is a good book, even if the title is a bit misleading. It would be good for a parent struggling with their own perfect idea of parenting a neurodiverse child and the hardships that come with that (especially if your child was diagnosed later in life). For aspies themselves and parents who are more educated in their approach to parenthood, this will probably not offer anything you have not heard before.

I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Aspertools (which doesn't contain any tools) is really a memoir of one father's experience with his daughter who has Aspergers. I thought, from the title and blurb, it would be helpful for a person with Aspergers to adapt to the neurotypical world. Instead, it's more geared toward teaching neurotypical individuals what it's like to experience life with Aspergers. It might be helpful to give to grandparents and others who are learning to adapt themselves. 
Thanks to NetGalley, the publisher and the author for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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Very practical book that explains well about Asperger's without the complicated medical therms. Easy to read, short chapters about each trait of Asperger's.
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I hope that my review finds Dr Reitman. My son has aspergers so this book really hits home for me. I really appreciate this novel and its content of advice and tips etc. NO one child is the same. This novel prompted me to search for Dr Reitman on youtube and I found this :
I totally and completely relate and I am just glad to have come across this novel on here. 
I love this book and appreciate Dr Reitman. Thank you sir , for offering me some insight into my sons disorder. I ask everyone to remember this " There is ABILITY in DISABILITY". These children and individuals are wonderful human beings.
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This was a super simple and easy to read book that had a lot of good tips on helping anyone who's not completely neurotypical. The author seems to have the best of intentions and does a great job of keeping everything positive. I will put some of the tips to use in my own life.

The only negative was the weird paragraph about single mothers in chapter 22. Not sure what that was all about. 

I'm going to make sure we have this one on the shelf if we don't already.
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Very informative and useful book. It was a slow read, but i am glad to have read this. It gave me more insight into
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If you ask Dr. Harold Reitman, labels are a lousy way to describe a unique human being, whether it’s Asperger’s, high functioning autism, ADHD, dyslexia, Tourette’s or even the so-called neurotypical brain itself. One size does not fit all. Everyone’s brain is different.

Helping others ‘get it’ when it comes to dealing with those with so-called learning disabilities is why Reitman has written this book. It’s also why he wrote and produced The Square Root of 2, a movie about a college student who encounters—and fights—her school’s unjust system. The film was inspired by the real events faced by his daughter and contributing author, Rebecca, when she went to college; her seizure disorder and—at the time—undiagnosed Asperger syndrome posed unique challenges not faced by most students.


After reviewing the scientific community’s research, conducted over the last nearly 40 years, Dr. Reitman believes that it’s time to not just accept neurodiversity, but to embrace it, and this book will help people do just that. It is the first book to offer simple tools, action plans and resources to help understand and deal with anyone whose brain is a bit different. The astonishing rate of autism births alone (1 in 68) means that society will have to adapt to neurodiversity, just as it has had to adapt to other cultural and racial differences. Our educational system, our workplaces, and society at large will no longer be one size fits all—each individual will have the opportunity to maximize their potential—and we will be the better for it.

“I strongly recommend Dr. Reitman’s book Aspertools to people who are interested in understanding that each child is entitled to learn and develop in a way that enables that child to succeed. . . .”

―Abraham Fischler
President Emeritus, Nova Southeastern University


“I believe that Aspertools by Dr. Hackie Reitman is at the vanguard of changing peoples’ perceptions about what’s going on with our brains.”

―Brian Udell, M.D.
Medical Director, The Child Development Center of America


“Aspertools is a big help. I think too many people don’t know enough about Asperger’s, the autism spectrum, and different brains in general. . . . I think Dr. Hackie Reitman himself wishes he would’ve known these tools when his daughter was growing up.”

―Dr. Susan J. Mendelsohn
clinical psychologist and life coach


“As a professor of philosophy, I have taken some instruction from Aspertools. Dr. Reitman has given me a more profound grasp of the fact that one size does not fit all when it comes to learning, and that what one student can handle with aplomb might cause another to grind his teeth with anxiety.”

―Gordon Marino
Professor of Philosophy at St. Olaf College,
editor of The Quotable Kierkegaard, and
writer, The New York Times and The Wall St. Journal


“When I read Aspertools, I thought, ‘My gosh, Dr. Reitman is writing about my two teenagers!’ This book has opened my eyes.”

―Dawn D.
mother, medical technician


“Aspertools will help in so many ways. Without realizing it, Dr. Hackie Reitman has written a great book about all relationships and parenting.”

―Dr. Lori J. Butts, J.D., Ph.D.
President, Florida Psychological Association, 2015, Director of the Clinical and Forensic Institute

“Aspertools brings hope and optimism to Aspies and their families! After so many books filled with diagnostic tools and statistical data, finally, here is a book about Asperger’s syndrome that actually offers something helpful: how to cope with the various symptoms and overcome the challenges. The insight and practical advice from the multiple points of view―the Aspie, the parent, and the educator―provide a comprehensive yet easily readable work. Thank you, Dr. Reitman, for reaffirming that Aspies can and do lead productive, fulfilling lives!”

―Delfina B.
Aspie mom


“What an awesome story of impact and vision! On behalf of the ‘KID’ in all of us, thanks.”

―Mark D. Dhooge
President/CEO, Kids In Distress, Inc.

About the Author:

Dr. Harold “Hackie” Reitman is an orthopedic surgeon, a former professional and Golden Gloves champion heavyweight boxer, philanthropist, and a movie producer. His recent release, The Square Root of 2, is a fictionalized adaptation of his daughter Rebecca’s challenges at college (

My thoughts:

A must read for anyone who has a child with Autism on any mark of the spectrum!!!

You can get your copy here.

I was given this book in exchange for my honest review from Netgalley. All opinions stated above are my own.
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Despite the introduction's insistence that this book is for everyone, parents and educators and people on the spectrum alike, this book is really targeted at parents of young autistic children who want their kids to behave like neurotypical children. And despite his many asides explaining that you shouldn't expect an autistic person to react like a neurotypical person, many of his "Aspertools" are designed to elicit exactly that behavior. (The constant use of "Aspie" to refer to "the generic neurodivergent person" started to grate on me after a while.) The sections I liked best were those from Rebecca, the author's neurodivergent daughter, who offered the most nuanced explanations of different phenomena. This might be a decent starting point for someone who knew nothing about autism and neurodivergent personalities, but it should not be an end point. I would not recommend it to anyone who is neurodivergent themselves.

(Also, given that the author claims several times in the text that he's not writing as a doctor since his specialty is in orthopedic surgery, I'm not a fan of the decision to put "M.D." on the cover.)
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