“Mockingbird” offers sweet lessons from a child with Aspergers Syndrome

Mockingbird by Lisa Erskine may be a teen book, but it made great reading for my husband and me. It’s the tale of a young girl, Kaitlin, with Aspergers Syndrome who struggles to cope. We both learned a lot from seeing the world through her eyes. 

mockingbird-128x150Kaitlin has a very literal view of the world. She is confused by statements like “lunch will be served on the lawn.” Her mind doesn’t make the leap to the fact that lunch is actually on tables on the lawn. Similarly, she has difficulties with common figures of speech. She has a sometimes irritating, but often delightful simplicity and honesty. 

One striking thing in the tale for me was how Kaitlin became intrigued by words that represented important concepts. The word “closure” became an anchor for her attempt to resolve her issues around the loss of her beloved brother in a school shooting. The word “finesse” and “empathy” guided her struggles to develop social skills. That is true for all of us – once we name a concept, it becomes more concrete and real for us. Effective words provide compelling anchors. 

Here’s a phrase Kaitlin invented. She didn’t like the chaos of recess, so any discomfort became framed as “that recess feeling.” Ever since, Bob and I started noting to each other when we get our own “recess feelings.” Our shared experience of the book created a shared language of a feeling we both experience. 

Mockingbird is a great read. You’ll learn a lot about Apergers – and if you’re like us, you’ll also learn a lot about yourself. 

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