Book Review by Barb Luskin, PhD Consulting Psychologist

During a discussion of ways of coping with anxiety and depression at a recent meeting of the AuSM support group for adults with ASD, martial arts was mentioned by several participants as being extremely effective. When I saw the new book, Mind/Body Techniques for Asperger Syndrome, by R. Vicente Rubio I was interested in learning more. Rubio has used his background in dance and martial arts (Aikido) as the foundation for a teaching/ mentoring program for children and young adults with disabilities that include Asperger Syndrome, ADHD, and related conditions. He describes in this volume the basic philosophy underlying his program as well as providing a few basic techniques that he uses. Rubio bases his program on the image of the warrior. He notes that this is an image familiar to many boys with ASD who are fascinated with video games. He uses the warrior image to teach his students to stay focused in the moment and to see problems as opponents to be faced, challenged and overcome. Rubio also notes that for many people with ASD, teaching that combines words and actions is more effective than words alone. Rubio provides basic background in his first chapter. In five subsequent chapters focusing on breathing, mindfulness, standing, posture and extension and movement Rubio illustrates a basic martial arts technique and explains how he uses it to teach such skills as staying calm in the face of stress, staying focused, engaging with other people, and acing challenges. This book is not detailed enough to be used as a manual to create a program similar to that described by Rubio, but its use of clear photographs and examples should help teachers, therapists and parents incorporate some of Rubio's insights into their own work.