My Book Full of Feelings: How to Control and React to the SIZE of Your Emotions
Author: Amy V. Jaffe and Luci Gardner
Publishing Info: 2006
Reviewed by Yu-Chi Chou, University of Kansas & Maureen Bennie: Director, Autism Awareness Centre Inc.
In My Book Full of Feelings, Luci Gardner, the mother of a child with Asperger Syndrome, and Amy V. Jaffe, a clinical social worker, present an effective and easy-to-use tool for teaching children with Asperger Syndrome (AS) and other autism spectrum disorders (ASD) how to understand and react to their emotions. Children with ASD often express their emotions like an on/off switch. Either they don’t express their feelings or they overreact to situations with emotional intensity.
The goal of this book is to help the child modulate their feelings and to teach how graduations of expression will work in different situations. They need the tools to learn the emotional clues, recognize their inappropriate responses and master more realistic responses.
The book consists of six color coded sections corresponding to six basic and common emotions: happy, sad, angry, calm, worried and frustrated. Each emotion has a two-page spread with emotional triggers listed on the left-hand page and corresponding responses on the right-hand page. The consistent format combined with effective use of color and graphics makes it easier for adults to use and for children to understand. The dry-erase marker format allows users to change or update materials corresponding to each child’s needs.
The book is geared to the difficulties in understanding emotions and expressing feelings common among children with AS and ASD. First, graduated color cues are used to represent the graduation of emotional expression and are illustrated in a pyramid, the little emotion being at the top of the pyramid. Second, simple cartoon face images help recognize the various emotions. Third, thinking processes are laid out to prompt children with solutions when coping with different emotions. Fourth, interactive examples and appropriate responses are presented in a clear and logical manner, and blank spaces make it easy to individualize the various emotions, for example, by replacing hypothetical situations by events and experiences from the child’s own life.
Another unique feature of this simple-to-use book is a set of home-school collaborative worksheets for sharing information between teachers and parents to ensure consistency and generalization.
In My Book Full of Feelings, the authors simplify otherwise complex emotions and develop concrete techniques to assist children with AS and ASD in realizing their emotional triggers, recognizing the intensity levels, and responding appropriately. The child works interactively with the adult to develop an emotional toolkit. As a result, these children are equipped to navigate emotional situations more independently. A program like this one is an essential component to any elementary age social skills program.
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