ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
E. J. Copperman is the author of the Haunted Guesthouse series (Berkley Prime Crime) with nearly 100,000 copies sold. Writing as Jeff Cohen, he has published two nonfiction books on Asperger's Syndrome, including The Asperger Parent.
E.J., has worked as a newspaper reporter, teacher, magazine editor, and screenwriter, and writes stories that combine humor and mystery with just the right amount of spooky supernatural happenings and a large does of Jersey attitude.He has written for such publications as The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, American Baby and USA Weekend.
In the first in the Asperger’s Mysteries from Midnight Ink, The Question of the Missing Head,(written with his alter-ego Jeff Cohen) Samuel Hoenig opens a storefront in a strip mall and hangs a sign (with tape) in the window reading Questions Answered. A borderline genius who happens to have an Autism Spectrum Disorder
When our son started biting people, we knew we had a problem.
Josh was only about a year and a half old, and started getting kicked out of nursery schools. Being Josh, he found the least socially acceptable way to make his point, and biting is not tolerated in nursery schools. Go figure.
So we started the way most suburban parents would: We headed to the pediatrician. He couldn’t tell us much (Josh didn’t have an illness that made him bite people, after all), but he referred us to a behavioral psychologist who might have an idea.
Nervously, we made an appointment with the doctor, who did a number of tests with our little son (most of which seemed to involve playing a game). And after analyzing the data he collected, he called us—minus Josh—into his office.
We sat in the two “client chairs” in front of his desk and my wife’s hand found mine. We’re not worriers by nature (okay, my wife isn’t a worrier by nature), but this had us spooked and besides, our daughter was only six or seven months from being born. Couldn’t have him biting her before she could fight back.
The doctor looked at us with only a little condescension in his eyes and began. “Your son,” he said, “is, and probably always will be, eccentric.”
There was just something about the way he said it. I had a moment, which I likely have considerably more often than you do, where what came out of my mouth had not been properly filtered through my brain before exiting.
“We can’t afford eccentric,” I told the doctor. “We’re only middle class. You’re going to have to talk him up to neurotic.”
The doctor’s expression indicated he had found the genetic link he’d been looking for.
Not long after leaving his office (and going elsewhere), my wife’s suspicions were confirmed: Josh had Asperger’s Syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism. It was a difficult truth to accept, but it wasn’t something we couldn’t handle, given time and education.
Today, Josh is a 25-year-old looking for work, as so many of them are these days. He graduated from Drexel University with a Bachelor of Science degree in film and video, and even during those years he was living in Philadelphia, never bit anyone. That we know of.
His experience led (very indirectly) to the Asperger’s Mystery series, kicking off in October with The Question of the Missing Head. In it, Samuel Hoenig, who has Asperger’s (although we have to call it ‘autism spectrum disorder’ these days, according to the geniuses in charge) sets up a business called Questions Answered, at which he does just that. And because it’s a mystery novel, a question is asked that will lead him into a much deeper investigation.
The story is told in Samuel’s voice for a reason: We need to know how he thinks to understand why he’s the right man for the job (or not), and it gives the reader, hopefully, a little more insight into a much misunderstood condition. But I’m not here to preach.
This is all to explain why earlier this month I set up the Asperger’s Mystery Challenge. The idea was simple: People would buy the book and receive it (from your local bookstore or wherever paper or e-books are sold) on the publication date, October 8. They’d take a picture of themselves with the book or e-title page and post it (the picture) to Facebook or Twitter. For every one I saw, I donated $3 (up to $300) to ASPEN, the Autism Spectrum Education Network, here in New Jersey, where Samuel operates Questions Answered.
I’m did that because ASPEN helped us when we needed it. People who participated (and I promise I’ll post final numbers at http://itsthegreatestthing.blogspot.com and http://heydeadguy.typepad.com/heydeadguy/) did so, I hope, because they wanted to read the book.
Either way, it went in some small way to help someone who is eccentric.
HAS THERE BEEN AN ORGANIZATION THAT WAS THERE FOR YOU WHEN YOU NEEDED IT? Tell us by commenting on the blog below or on our Facebook page and you’ll be entered to win a a copy ofTHE QUESTION OF THE MISSING HEAD (U.S. entrants only, please.)
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