ASPERGER syndrome is named after Hans Asperger (1906-80), an
Austrian paediatrician who identified a group of adults and
children who had problems in the areas of social interaction and
communication, and had sensory and adaptation issues. So says
The Essential Manual for Asperger Syndrome in the
Classroom, by Kathy Hoopmann (Jessica Kingsley, £14.99 (
CT Bookshop £13.50)).
Psychological research has given us far greater insight into the
syndrome in recent years. That being so, currently up to one in 80
children is now diagnosed as having Asperger syndrome. Thirty years
ago, we had barely heard of it. Consequently, all teachers will, at
some stage in their careers, come across such children.
Full marks, then, to Kathy Hoopmann. She has written a book that
teachers, whom she winningly describes as "time-poor", will hugely
appreciate. It is packed with information, giving jargon-free
explanations why children with Asperger syndrome react as they
The opening pages are invaluable. The "issue sorter" pages allow
the reader to look through a list of up to 60 situations where
school problems may occur. There is much to learn from this volume,
and we should not be too proud to learn it.
Although I must have taught scores of children on the
autistic-spectrum disorder scale, of which Asperger syndrome is a
part, I did not know that Asperger children are highly likely to
suffer from some kind of sensory disorder. Hoopmann lectures us a
bit, but in a way that shows how much the subject matters to
"Never forget that you are teaching a child who is loved by
someone. Read that sentence again," she instructs us. The best
moments come when, suddenly, the penny drops, and we start to
recognise children we have taught - their pattern of behaviour, and
a rational explanation. Brilliant.
Since Asperger children do not find the social mores of a game
of football easy, they are unlikely to be impressed by What
Makes a Winner?, by Chris Hudson et al. (Barnabas in
Schools, £6.99 (£6.30)). This is a revised version of an
older publication with additional material. Five famous sportsmen
and women, including a Paralympian, enable the author to focus on
his three themes: discipline, dedication, and determination.
As with life, there are rules to follow, and there are other
people around who are watching either to support and be helpful, or
to make life difficult. As is usually the case with Barnabas in
Schools publications, the focus is on storytelling with clear
biblical links, and a resolve to do as much of the lesson-planning
for teachers as possible. There are a couple of assemblies thrown
in, too; so teachers will especially value it.
Another Barnabas in Schools production, hot off the press, has
struck a topical note. Valuing Money, by Chris
Hudson(£9.99 (£9)),tackles the subject of our attitudes to
money head on.
It is curious how the subject that dominates political debate,
and much of our thinking at home, rarely features in schools. It is
almost "the elephant in the room". Economics at A level exists as
an academic study, but there is little in relation to the ethical
questions relating to hard cash. Having a great deal of it is
assumed to be the good life; being hard up is not so good. Hudson's
volume, aimed at Key Stages in primary schools, will set the
standard for years to come.
Financial education is the name of the game here, with a subtle
message that most maths money-problems usually involve spending
money, and only very rarely involve giving it away. It is almost as
if there is something dangerous or slightly "iffy" about being
generous with money. It is easier to talk about something
As with the previous volume, each unit includes a story, a
biblical context, an RE lesson, and pointers to how the same
context can be used in both literacy and numeracy. The ten units in
the book, therefore, will provide a year's financial education in
an innovative and interesting way.
It won't be easy. From the time of Jesus onwards, we have been
left in no doubt that meeting his standards on this one provides
the biggest challenge of them all.
Regular readers will have spotted the endless search for good
assembly material. As assemblies are not going to disappear any
time soon, a good story is like gold dust. The Very Best
Sheepdog, by Pinny Grylls (Pavilion Children's Books,
£5.99 (£5.40)), is one of those word-of-mouth successes: a
book that, after a slow start, suddenly starts to move up the
Ben is a sheepdog with high-flying, championship-winning
parents. Ben, however, is a hopeless sheepdog, and his self-esteem
is at rock bottom. Redemption comes through an unlikely friendship,
and by being generous of heart and will. A numpty becomes a hero.
The children will love it. Alleluia.