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One School One Book: Panelists discuss Asperger's, grief

Panelists for One School One Book

by Jacob Sims Speyer
Panelists answered questions and discussed topics relating to Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer as part of One School One Book held E-block Thursday in the auditorium.
The discussion centered around 9/11 and Asperger’s syndrome, two major themes of the summer reading book. The event was moderated by special education teacher Peter Cavanagh with the assistance of special education teacher Lisa Goldthwaite.
Phyllis Attisano, one of the panelists, has a child with Asperger’s. She also lived in Montclair, New Jersey, on 9/11, which is just 12 miles away from Manhattan. The event also featured James Sullivan, a former military personnel who decided to work for the Boston EMS in the week following 9/11, and Beth Freed, a clinical psychologist who specializes in grief counseling.
In response to a question about Asperger’s syndrome, Attisano said that the brains of people with Asperger’s are wired differently than most people. “Things have to have logic,” she said.
Freed answered questions regarding to grief. She thought that the movie was a good representation of “how we all feel when we are in trauma or tragedy.” Freed also went on to describe how different people cope with loss. “Focus on taking in the good,” she said.
Sullivan, meanwhile, focused on the crisis aspect on the book. He described how, when helping traumatized people, his priority is “to get them back to a normal life situation.” The larger the tragedy, the longer it takes, he said.

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