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Ella Autie Book with Autism Information
Given the rising numbers of children being diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), it is important to learn about both neurological differences. According to Yael Leitner, the author of "The Co-Occurrence of Autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Children – What Do We Know?" there are studies showing that " between 30 and 50% of individuals with ASD manifest ADHD symptoms (particularly at pre-school age), and similarly, estimates suggest two-thirds of individuals with ADHD show features of ASD (Davis and Kollins, 2012)."
Regular readers of this site already have a lot of information about ADD/ADHD. However, they might not know as much about autism. The easiest way that I have found to quickly get a lot of information about autism is with a 68 page picture book called Ella Autie by Catlaina Vrana.
This delightful book is about a fourth grade girl with autism. When a new girl, Sarah, comes into the class, she brings many misconceptions about autism with her. Ella, the girl with autism, is completely misunderstood. After spending time together, Sarah comes away from the experience understanding a lot more about her new autistic friend. Beyond being a great story with charming illustrations, the book is full of wisdom about autism. People first language, puzzle piece ribbons, dyspraxia/apraxia, Augmentative Communication Device (AAC), Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), eye contact, special interests, meltdowns, and stimming are some of the topics that Miss Vrana folds into the engaging story of Ella Autie.
Here are some points about autism that Ella Autie discusses:
People-first language- Many autistic people do not prefer people-first language. The do not want to be called a "person with autism," since autism is such an integral part of their person. They prefer autistic person, which is identity-first language. As a special educator, this one was hard for me. It helped having Catlaina Vrana as a student in an enrichment class at the local community college. Her presence kept me on track!
Puzzle piece symbolism for autism- Catlaina is not a big fan of the puzzle piece. She believes that the puzzle piece makes it seem like the autistic person is not a whole person, but a puzzle to be figured out. She prefers the rainbow infinity sign since, "it shows that everyone's way of thinking is different, and that’s ok." She likes to pair that with the slogan, "Nothing about us, without us."
Dyspraxia/Apraxia- Neurological conditions that make it difficult to move the body because they affect motor planning. That's why some folks with ASD have trouble speaking. Instead, they might use sign language, communication devices, or write, using pencil and paper.
Augmentative Communication Device- A computer with pictures that is used for communicating.
Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)- This is a common problem with autism and ADD. The brain doesn't organize sensory input correctly, so what the person with SPD sees and hears varies from what neurotypical people sense. Lights, noises, and sounds can all be matters of concern.
Eye contact- Eye contact is often difficult for autistic people. It is extremely stimulating. In the words of Ella Autie, "my eyes make faces look bright and swirly and busy."
Special interests- Many autistic people have things that they are very, very interested in. These vary from person to person. However, they have in common that autistic people get extremely focused on these special interests and will research and talk about them for hours at a time.
Meltdowns- This is one of the most misunderstood aspects of ASD. Meltdowns occur when sensory stimuli become too great for the person to handle and they go into sensory overload. Meltdowns look different for different people. They can be withdrawing, screaming, flailing around, throwing things, or a combination of many things. They are NOT temper tantrums.
Stimming (Self-Stimulatory Behaviors)- This is what many of us envision when we think of autism. These behaviors help autistic people deal with sensory stimulation. Miss Vrana has a wonderful illustration showing the varieties of stimming. They include rocking, flapping, saying the same thing over and over, twirling, and jumping up and down. You should never try to stop an autistic person from stimming. It is part of what they do to cope with the world around them.
In one short picture book, Catlaina Vrana shows us what the world is like for an autistic girl. Her pictures perfectly illustrate the text. In addition to a wealth of information about autism and how to interact with autistic people, you will find a wonderful story about the power of communication in developing friendships. I highly recommend this fantastic book which was written by one of my former students.
Here is a scholarly article about the dual diagnosis of ASD and ADHD.
The Co-Occurrence of Autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Children – What Do We Know?
When I was studying for my Master's degree, my thesis advisor was Brenda Smith Myles, one of the foremost researchers in autism spectrum disorders. Seeing a need for practical information for parents and educators, she and her husband started a publishing house. Collected in the AAPC catalog is a wealth of information about autism and ADD. From time to time, they send me books to review, but I am not compensated for the reviews or this endorsement.
Autism Asperger Publishing Company
Here is an Amazon link to Ella Autie.
Ella Autie: A Book About Autism Written by an Autistic Person
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Content copyright © 2015 by Connie Mistler Davidson. All rights reserved.
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