I am going to transition to weaving Meaza’s story throughout the posts about my other kids, as I am at the point of describing her as a part of our whole family.
Today is Friday, so I am going to post about a strategy related to working or living with a child on the autism spectrum.
I would like to share about some books that I have appreciated reading as a mom and a teacher, to better understand what it is like to live with autism. Some of these could be used as read alouds, or book club books to build empathy and understanding.
There are many books about autism. I haven’t read all of them, by any means. After my presentations, people generously share many titles that I have never heard. This would be a great place to post some titles that you know, so that we can archive them and refer back to them for future use. Please comment away!
The first book I read was not fiction, but a professional book that was recommended to me to help me with Liam in school. It was recommended by his developmental pediatrician. It helped me understand the autistic brain and strategies that might work in the classroom.
One of the first fiction books I read with a character with with Aspergers was Katherine Erskine’s Mockingbird. There are passages that I read aloud during presentations that capture perfectly what “group work” and “recess” are like from the point of view of a female narrator. This is a middle grade text, however, as it deals with a situation that was inspired (poor choice of words for such an event) by the shootings at Virginia Tech.
I read House Rules next. As are all Jodi Picoult books, it is for adults only and well researched. I would not tout it as a great read for learning all about ASD, but there were a few scenes in which the narrator describes how her son with autism feels in certain situations, that literally brought me to my knees with their authenticity.Next came The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Again, adult book, sarcastic, but some interesting observations.
After that, I read a book that I cannot remember the title of: about a boy who is bullied in school, who seeks refuge and friendship from an online community who writes fan fiction. I thought that the tone of the book was a bit negative. Maybe that’s why I am blocking the title. The idea of someone with ASD connecting with others online, however, is authentic. (This book is called Anythung But Typical.)
Then the market picked up and many wonderful titles were released. I’m a huge fan of the following:
I have to share that I met Holly Goldberg Sloan at NCTE. I was in line to get her newest book. When I got up to the counter, with Appleblossom the Possum in my hand, I said, my son has Aspergers and loved your book, Counting by 7s. She immediately grabbed the book off of the pile, asked his name, and inscribed on the title page: To Liam – I wrote this for you. I thanked her through tears.
Rules is my number one all time recommendation for a class read aloud or book club book to help build others understand what living with autism is like. The narrator is the sibling of a brother with autism. Cynthia Lord shared during her talk at PCTELA that she wanted to explore the point of view of a typically developing sibling and how sometimes they take a back seat to all of the attention paid to the other child. I love thinking through this point of view for my two other kids. Also, there is 100% authenticity about what and how Lord writes. She is honoring me by being our Tuesday luncheon speaker at this year’s KSRA conference. We have hugged many times when we see each other at various events – mom to mom.
Last, but not least (and really not last because my list is utterly incomplete), is Rain Reign. I especially like this book for how it shows the frustrations that can take place in school and with family – how stressful ASD can be to the classroom and the family dynamic.
Please share your own favorite titles and thanks for reading through these.