Guest Author - Bonnie Sayers
My high functioning son Nicholas is at that stage in life where he likes to talk about himself and his interests. These conversations focus on caring for animals. Since he enjoyed viewing Autism and Me, I decided to obtain some books on the topic to get his opinion and see if they helped him in any way.
At one point in time we started writing with the author of Sundays with Matthew to share art drawings, but that stopped after one exchange.
Since Nicholas is homeschooling I wanted to get him to open up about his feelings on autism, share feedback and feel positive about himself.
I started with Do You Understand Me?: My Life, My Thoughts, My Autism Spectrum Disorder due to it being a quick read in a paperback format. I perused the book first and then let Nicholas, who is twelve read several pages of it. I started with the second to last page where Sofie Koborg Brosen, the eleven year-old author from Sweden discussed her wish to run a boarding house for cats. I figured that was a good start to get his attention in reading through the book.
Do You Understand Me?: My Life, My Thoughts, My Autism Spectrum Disorder really opened up the lines of communication for my son. He was happy to discuss his opinion of the book and share what he and Sofie had in common. He was not really distracted by the terms utilized in the book that we are not used to - Mum, cross, swimming baths and form; as associated with school.
Nicholas felt this book was more descriptive than others since Sofie mentioned her favorite teachers, her cat Teddy and her best friend Lisa. I asked him if he thought she repeated herself throughout the book and his response was that "this is what kids with autism do". He proceeded to discuss his favorite topic he perseverates on - cats as an example of this. The first impression was that the book was pretty good. " It makes me feel like I want to write about myself too, so people can understand how I feel." He said that Sofie wrote about how she felt about other people and it was like reading a poem about yourself.
The book is repetitious in nature and a bit confusing to someone who does not have autism as it starts off saying, " I have a disability. It is called Autism or Asperger Syndrome." This is not a book to teach about awareness, but to help those already on the spectrum to learn there are others like them. The book is exactly as the title explains. It is more random thoughts written in the same manner a young person on the spectrum would speak. They are short sentences that say the same thing in various ways.
It is all about understanding and feelings with glimpses into Sophie's life. She needs a chart to remind her how to use the remote control and a sign on the refrigerator. She does not like people who swear, are rude and tease others. Sofie doesn't understand facial expressions or body language, but can comprehend when a friend smiles. She would rather her Mum call her a bookkeeper instead of a bookworm due to it sounding weird and making her feel ill.
"My timetable often confuses me.
Mum and I have an arrangement, and I call her every day when school's over. I always have my mobile phone with me. Then Mum tells me if I'm calling too soon.
Sometimes the other children in my form have gone to the music hall or to the arts and crafts hall without me noticing it. Then I think we're off for the day and pack my school bag and call my mum. Then mum says that she'll come and pick me up, or she tells me I've forgotten to go to more lessons, which don't take place in our classroom.
Sometimes the girls in my form accompany me to the right place. I like that so much."
This page really bothered me since it is hard to comprehend that this girl has no guidance at school as she gets easily confused. The back of the book states that Sofie attends a mainstream school. This is meant to be an an invaluable resource for helping children to understand their classmates that have autism.
I liked how the illustrations helped guide the reader to learn how Sofie was thinking and feeling. These were done by her father, Peter Brosen. My suggestion on the age range for this book would be 8-13.
Different Like Me: My Book of Autism Heroes is a unique book that is meant to encourage children that there are famous and historical people who have achieved much in life while being different from other people.
This starts off by describing Quinn, who is 8 3/4. According to my son Nicholas, Quinn describes lots of things like facts about autism and when it first started. He shares with how he deals with it and how autism developed.
Twenty figures are profiled in Different Like Me: My Book of Autism Heroes. These include Andy Warhol, Lewis Carroll, Albert Einstein, Andy Kauffman, Dian Fossey and Temple Grandin.
I had Nicholas read the page about Dian Fossey since she studied zoology. He was not really interested in reading about people he never heard of and the drawings indicated these were older people. It did not really capture his attention or mine for that matter. I thought the book would be inspiring for him to see what other people have achieved. It is only one page on each person so it is not overwhelming for kids to peruse through. Please note that this book uses the term "autistic people". The age recommended is 8-12.
The Autism Acceptance Book: Being a Friend to Someone With Autism is a 62 page spiral bound book with charts and places to write notes and a social story. This is an interactive book with a multitude of activities suitable for classroom use, with a social skills group, therapists and other venue of multiple children learning about autism and disabilities.
The Autism Acceptance Book: Being a Friend to Someone With Autism could also be utilized by child relatives of someone on the spectrum to do for preparing for holiday visits and summer vacation trips where they will be engaging with the child on the autism spectrum.
Readers are encouraged to collect ideas on autism and forge friendships with those who have autism. This could be utilized in a camp atmosphere and also for church school. This is not a book to devour in one sitting or get through in a week. It is very involved and should be explored over a long period of time so that readers can comprehend this at their own pace.
There is a certificate for completing the book and a section for group activities and for questions the child may have about autism. They list resources at the back of the book as well. This is a great idea for older kids to do some independent learning and gaining of understanding. For smaller children it is more of a interactive book to be taught with assistance in filling out the pages. The recommended age is 9-12.
Autism through a Sister's Eyes is a paperback book with some colorful illustrations inside. Ten year-old Emily writes about her older brother Daniel. I like the glossary in the back, as well as the discussion questions for parents and children.
Autism Through A Sister's Eyes is comprised of fifteen chapters on glossary paper. Emily compares not being able to choose the color of your hair to being born with autism. She sheds light on how her brother is different and her feelings on having a brother with autism.
Emily shares how when she was younger she did not realize that Daniel was different. She has turned into a sensitive girl and knows that Daniel needs a schedule to follow as he likes to do the same things everday.
This book will help siblings feel connected by what they are dealing with, whether it is autism or asperger syndrome and a brother or sister. It is also suitable for parents and other professionals to see just how much comprehension there is among siblings and how well they understand autism and can adapt to the changes in the family unit.
My Friend with Autism: A Coloring Book for Peers and Siblings consists of twenty pages in black and white illustrations. The first page is an introduction and instruction page for adults. The last portion of this book is broken down into pages of notes for the adult explaining in more detail the illustration of said page. This includes describing over-responsive and under-responsive to senses.
Then there is a listing of behaviors that my be suggestive of an autistic spectrum disorder, such as walking on tiptoes, lack of eye contact, nonverbal communication, extreme temper tantrums and hands covering ears.
Besides a list of recommended reading there is a page entitled, "Ten Quick Strategies for Helping an Autistic Child". These include using first, then strategy, giving a visual or oral schedule, simplify language, give choices and give the child ways to cope with sensory problems.
The illustrations show kids playing, sharing and sitting in a classroom. These pages cover what takes place during a typical day like eating, reading and dealing with sensory overload.
The age range listed on My Friend with Autism is nine to twelve, but I would lower that for smaller kids in a classroom setting, with therapists and teachers to learn about children with autism.
These books are all suitable for families with a child on the spectrum, their relatives, siblings, teachers, therapists, friends and classmates. Parents can obtain these books and give out at the beginning of the year to teachers and therapists or at holiday time. April is autism awareness month, another key time to help spread awareness by giving books to those who work with the population.
All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome
Everything You Need To Know When A Brother Or Sister Is Autistic
A Is for Autism, F Is for Friend
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.