Happy National Autism Awareness Month!
And to celebrate, here is a great book explaining Asperger Syndrome, among other things.
For anyone who knows someone on the autism spectrum
Twelve-year-old Catherine just wants a normal life. Which is near impossible when you have a brother with autism and a family that revolves around his disability. She’s spent years trying to teach David the rules – from ‘a peach is not a funny-looking apple’ to ‘keep your pants on in public’ in order to stop his embarrassing behaviors.
But the summer Catherine meets Jason, a surprising, new sort-of friend, and Kristi, the next-door friend she’s always wished for, it’s her own shocking behavior that turns everything upside down and forces her to ask: What is normal?
Does anyone remember ‘How to Speak Dolphin’ by Ginny Rorby? Well, similar to that book, the main female character must learn how to understand a brother with autism and a new friend with a different disability.
What makes this story cool is that the author does have a son with autism, so she knows first-hand how difficult it is to handle a child with autism. Read the Q&A with Cynthia Lord at the end of the book to learn more about the author and the ideas for Rules.
I can understand why her brother gets on her nerves. I know I get on people’s nerves. In fact, I get on my own nerves sometimes.
People with autism don’t always understand the basic rules of living that other people come by so naturally. (Examples: Knock before entering someone else’s room. If you want to get away with something, don’t announce it first. It’s fine to hug Mom, but not the clerk at the video store.) Stuff like that. But people with autism have their own set of rules that, in their minds, they must follow. Here are a few of my own: What I’m working on must be perfect, or I’ll get upset. If something is upsetting me, I’ll watch TV until the anxiety goes away.
I relate to David in two ways. 1) We both love the video store. You might remember me mentioning the wonderful world of video stores in ‘The Ghost’s Grave’ by Peg Kehret. I loved videocassettes as a kid. Going on Netflix and Hulu is a lot easier, but it just doesn’t feel the same as walking around the store and holding the video you want in your hands. And 2) we both cover our ears when something is too loud. I usually do this when a plane goes over my house and when there’s a sudden loud sound.
But this book isn’t just about autism. It talks about a familiar subject. Does anyone remember the first book I reviewed, ‘Out of My Mind’ by Sharon M. Draper? Catherine’s new friend Jason uses a wheelchair and a communication book. Jason’s communication board is pretty sad because Jason can only use words that someone else has given him. His book is limited before Catherine comes along.
I didn’t grasp how difficult using a communication book must be when I first read this book. But then I watched a new TV series called ‘Speechless,’ and I got a general idea.
For those who haven’t watched this show, Speechless is about a family with a child with cerebral palsy. This isn’t some after-school special type of show. It’s about a family that’s good at dealing with challenges and excellent at creating new ones. The best thing about this show is that the actor who plays J.J. has cerebral palsy, making the show all the more real.
I bring this show up because both Jason and J.J. use the same sort of way of communicating. But instead of a book of words, J.J. uses a communication board and a laser pointer attached to his glasses to point at certain words and an aid to speak for him. The difference between Jason’s communication book and J.J.’s communication board is that J.J. has the alphabet so he can spell out the words that aren’t already spelled out for him. See the picture of J.J.’s communication board below:
Well, I hope you all enjoyed this review. Check out this book and ‘Speechless’ and have a happy National Autism Awareness Month!