Navigating the hallways of a high school can be overwhelming for a person with Asperger’s Syndrome, just as it was for Jeff Kraus. He learned to manage and used coping techniques that helped him survive the high school years. That’s why Kraus, a 2008 graduate of Kings High School and the Warren County Career Center, recently wrote a book called The Aspie Teen’s Survival Guide: Candid Advice for Teens, Tweens, and Parents from a Young Man with Asperger’s Syndrome.
In this book, Jeff (he goes by J.D. Krauss for the book) offers practical advice to his peers so they can make the most of middle school and high school. His book starts out by describing Asperger’s Syndrome, a term people often hear but don’t know how to define. The book then goes on to give advice to kids, parents and teachers.
“I wrote this book for kids with AS, parents and teachers,” Jeff said.
Jeff’s story starts at J.F. Burns Elementary (JFB) where he first went to school, and when he first got the official diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome. Doctor’s told Laurie and Bob, Jeff’s parents, that Jeff would never lead a normal life or see a classroom outside of a special education room. He proved them wrong. Mrs. Cheryl Montag, JFB Principal, was instrumental in helping Jeff get acclimated to life inside a school and a regular classroom.
Transitioning to the high school was one of Jeff’s biggest challenges. The schedule was different, the teachers were different and the building was huge with crowded hallways. This made navigating the first year of high school difficult for Jeff. However, Mr. Dustin Goldie and Mrs. Lisa Orfield, Kings High School teachers, were there for Jeff and created safe spots in their classrooms for him.
Mr. Goldie said he remembers several politically charged debates with Jeff. Conversations were always lively.
“Thank goodness we had a school district that was supportive,” Laurie said.
Jeff went on to have a very successful high school career. He eventually attended the Warren County Career Center where he studied Digital Design and graduated top of his class. He was also the Honored Vocational Student at the 2008 Kings High School Graduation.
Jeff started writing this book his freshman year of college, but set it aside to focus on school work and other projects. It was after some pushing by his creative writing teacher that Jeff finally took up the book again and finished writing his story.
Several publishers turned down the book before Future Horizons grabbed hold of it. The book was published Sept. 30, 2010.
Even though Jeff is doing very well in college, he still has trouble understanding some verbal cues and body language. It wasn’t until high school that he started to understand humor, his mom said. Even now, understanding sarcasm eludes him. He can also still become overwhelmed when rooms are too busy or places are too crowded. That’s why he is planning on writing another book once he graduates. This book will focus on the college years.
“I’ve learned from school that you have to be approachable and know to ask for help,” Jeff said.
Now in his third year at the University of Cincinnati Raymond Walter’s College, Jeff is studying Electronic Media Technology and Animation. He said his dream job would be to work at Pixar.
You can find the book for sale at Amazon.com, Borders.com and Barnesandnoble.com.