With greater public awareness of the prevalence of autism today, many children’s books are appearing in the market to help youngsters who are faced with this illness to cope and adjust and enrich their lives. These books help an autistic child to understand what’s going on within and to deal effectively with the problem at hand. Before looking at some of these attractive books, let’s look at how autism is being viewed today.
Autism is now grouped with other complex disorders of brain development such as pervasive developmental disorder and Asperger syndrome into the category of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). These disorders have in common social communication difficulties, narrow interests and repetitive behaviors. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that ASD is identified in one in 68 children today. As more becomes researched and known about this illness, parents and families are helped to assist with ASD children through better services, information and resources.
One of the most inspiring and clarifying books about ASD is Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism, by Dr. Barry Prizant. A therapist and researcher with forty years of experience in working with ASD persons and families, he helps the reader to understand what is going on in the individual that brings out the kind of “problem” behavior that educators and therapists have tried to control. He shows that the most successful approach to autism is to truly understand the autistic person’s experience and build on strengths and offer support for more effective behavior. Dr. Prizant’s book is a must-read for anyone seeking to understand the complex world of the autistic individual.
What are the resources that will help an ASD child? How can he or she communicate with others to get the help needed or to just make social contact? Here are five books that have proven to be helpful to the autistic or aspergic child or youth.
The Survival Guide for Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders (And Their Parents) by Elizabeth Verdick and Elizabeth Reeve
This book is meant to be read with a parent. It helps ASD children understand their condition and provides tools to cope with the daily challenges they will face. It covers ways of managing diet, hygiene, relaxation, exercise, sleep and toileting. Strategies are provided for communicating, developing friendships, and succeeding in school. The topic of handling intense emotions and behaviors is also covered, with emphasis on getting support from family and other helpers.
When My Worries Get Too Big, by Kari Dunn Buron
The author has worked for over 30 years with ASD students in K-12 settings. She developed a schema which helps the autistic child to view degrees of stress on a five point scale: 1 = “This never bothers me”; 2 = “This sometimes bothers me”; 3 =” This can make me feel nervous”; 4 = “This can really upset me”; and 5 = “This could make me lose control”. The numbers help the children to understand their feelings, to label and define them, and to learn a calming sequence for relaxing in stages.
All About My Brother, by Sarah Peralta
This book was written and illustrated with drawings by eight year old Sarah Peralta. She tells about her three year old autistic brother Evan ingenuously and refreshingly with a child’s innocence and honesty. Sarah writes about Evan as someone interesting to know. She understands his feelings and his way of communicating. She helps him to learn and enjoys playing with him. In writing about Evan with love and understanding and encouraging others to approach autism without pity or fear, she serves as an advocate for autistic children.
What It Is to Be Me!: An Asperger Kid Book, by Angela Wine
This is a short 18-page book written for children in preschool through elementary school years who have Aspergers. Angela Wine wrote the story about “Danny” based on her experiences with her son. Simply written with delightful illustrations, the book has appealed to young children who have Aspergers and made them see that it’s cool to be an “Asperger Kid.” Parents report reactions such as “This book is all about me!”, “Hey, that boy is like me. I know how he feels”, and “It perfectly describes me!” A number of parents have used it to inform a child that he or she has been diagnosed with Aspergers and found that the book helped.
The Asperkid’s (Secret) Book of Social Rules: The Handbook of Not-So-Obvious Social Guidelines for Tweens and Teens with Asperger Syndrome, by Jennifer Cook O’Toole
Jennifer O’Toole is an Aspie herself, and wrote an award winning book for 10 to 17 year olds with Asperger syndrome on the many subtle social rules that can trip not only Aspies, but neurotypicals as well. She provides illustrations, logical explanations and comic strip practice sessions to help Asperkids learn and understand over thirty social rules to help them navigate the social world. O’Toole provides advice and insights about relationships, communication and self-respect.
The five books above were selected to represent the variety of topics appearing in the market today. Many are written by those who are parents of autistic or aspergic children, or who themselves grew up and live with ASD. Their warmth and sincerity in extending help to others can be felt as you read these children’s books on autism.