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BellaOnline's Autism Spectrum Disorders Editor

Two Board Books for Kids on the Autism Spectrum

Most children's books that cover a topic in relation to autism spectrum disorders are geared to kids in a specific age range and/or level on the spectrum. Being the single parent to two boys who are now teens on opposite ends of the spectrum means some books will be helpful in areas that my nonverbal son is facing. Next are books that might be over his level but beneath my high functioning son. Still I can obtain his opinion and include in reviews of these books.

Sometimes we differ in our views of books as shown in these Books for kids on the spectrum. Since the targeted reader most often is someone on the spectrum it helps to have my teen peruse them to assist in the decision on what books are best for families and if the book sets out to do what is promotes.

Both books are from Autism Asperger Publishing Co with issues tackling meltdowns and behavior in one book while the second book is targeting faces and feelings.

The Chameleon Kid: Controlling Meltdown Before He Controls You is written by Elaine Marie Larson with designs by Vivian Strand. At first I took issue with the title utilizing meltdown in this manner and found it confusing. Those on the autism spectrum take things so literally so this did not make sense to me. I figured if I had a hard time comprehending just the title how could a kid decipher it.

The book consists of forty-one pages. The contents are as follows:

Note to Family, Teachers and Friends
Note to Young Readers
The pages which are cartoonish and life like
Take Control of Meltdown
Activities to Help You Be a Chameleon Kid
Related Books by Author
Other AAPC Books for Young Readers

Within the Note to Family, Teachers, and Friends is an explanation of the book title - "The chameleon adapts his color to his surroundings as well as to his mood and communication needs. Similarly, as we learn in this book, the Chameleon Kid can learn to adapt to his surroundings by altering his behavior in dealing with the emotions that precede a meltdown."

This is specifically geared to children with Asperger Syndrome and high-functioning autism. The pages portray kids in the midst of a meltdown with phrases in white clouds. The expressions on the faces of these kids shows what they are feeling. At the bottom of these pages in the lower corner on the page in a small box are creatures imitating the meltdowns with a cloud explaining Idioms from said page.

Nick says that the pictures are realistic, cartoons are funny and show how the kids are feeling or how they should be feeling. He thinks kids in the age group of six to ten would benefit from reading The Chameleon Kid: Controlling Meltdown Before He Controls You. I tend to think this is more suitable for third to fifth graders due to the comprehension of the Idioms. According to the publisher the book is suitable for ages four to ten.

Personally I am not fond of this book and find it difficult to explain and even understand the messages. The Note to Family, Teachers, and Friends also mentions, "Through reading about and learning to use positive approaches to handling difficult situations, the child discovers he has the power to eliminate a meltdown, or at the very least lessen its hold on him - just like the Chameleon Kid."

The Note to Young Readers states, "You can learn to show others your feelings in more positive and non-scary ways... notice how the big and scary Meltdown on the left-hand pages becomes smaller on the right-hand pages when the Chameleon Kid fights back in many different ways."

It is also suggested to read book with an adult and to try out the activities once they have finished the book. The activities include:

Imagine Meltdown at school

Where can I be safe from Meltdown?
How can I get him to stop bugging me?

Meltdown at home

Where in my house am I safe from him?
Who in my family helps me stop Meltdown?
Wht kinds of things upset me at home?

The page preceeding this one Be a Chameleon Kid and Take Control of Meltdown has great tips that are understandable

Talk with a grown-up you trust
Take a nap
Count to 20, 200 or 2,000
Hum or sing silly songs
Listen to a relaxing CD
Play a quiet game
Draw a picture of how you are feeling
Ask for help

My son Nicholas has resorted to drawing when he has become frustrated due to his brother. One time upon returning home from somewhere he sat down and drew pictures of the two of them and what he really wanted to do to his brother. It was hard for me to look at, but later that night when emotions were no longer high we discussed the issue at length.

Some of the idioms within The Chameleon Kid: Controlling Meltdown Before He Controls You

Save the Day
True Colors show
Take A Hike
Hit the Road
Can't Stomach Him
Makes your Skin Crawl

Page 32 - Does Meltdown Make You blow Your Stack? page 33 Use calm and cool for a different tack - Be a Chameleon Kid. Idiom: "Blow your stack" = Lose your temper.

The writing is done in all caps on these pages with the meltdowns and positive reactions. They rhyme as well. This book is not one to read during a meltdown, but could be used later to cover ways to handle meltdowns.

What's That Look On Your Face?: All About Faces and Feelings is written by Catherine S. Snodgrass. The foreword is by Diane Twachtman-Cullen, who is the Editor-in-Chief of Autism Quarterly Magazine. This book has an appealing cover that consists of twenty-nine pages. Diane has included Tips for Turning What's That LOOK on Your Face? into a Super Teaching Resource in her foreword. This includes working on comprehension, vocabulary development and reading emotions.

The preface mentions, "This unique book helps children connect faces to feelings while building a larger vocabulary of words to identify feelings.". This is not the first book to cover this topic, but it is easy to comprehend with limited text identifying the meaning of each word.

What Nicholas does not like is the illustrations of the large heads on the kids portrayed in What's That Look On Your Face?:All About Faces and Feelings. His exact words - The hands look like toothbrushes and the heads are large like a bowling ball = big heads on small bodies. Each emotion shows so much, eyes and mouth are very animated. He does like how the words rhyme.

The feelings and emotions include - happy, mad, proud, embarassed, jealous and tired. Here is an example of one page - "Confused, what's the answer? Stare up and scratch head. Perplexed, maybe, Puzzled, perhaps Befuddled instead?"

The text with bolded words is on the left page as the illustration of either a girl or boy is on the right page. The last two pages show all illustrations with no text. This would be a good book for a classroom, group setting and families. According to the publisher, the book is suitable for 3rd through 5th graders.

Educational Autism Tips for Families 71 page resourceful ebook for families entering the school system with a recent autism diagnosis. Find out what issues take place over the course of a school day and meet these challenges head on.

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