We have all heard about or know someone who is affected by autism, but what is it? According to the Autism Society “Autism is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a “spectrum condition” that affects people differently and to varying degrees. It can impact a person’s social skills, communication, relationships, and self-regulation.” 1 out of every 54 children is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and there is no known cause. Reading books that have autistic characters help neurotypical children better understand and accept the diverse behaviors of autistic children. For children with an autism spectrum disorder, books with autistic characters serve as a learning tool to understanding their place in the world. Below are some books that are featured in the Special Selections of the Children’s section.
All readers can relate to this book about a child who is worried about trying something new. Holly loves science, but she does NOT like to touch anything sticky. Her class is getting ready to do a science experiment with slime and Holly worries about what it will feel like. Kids with sensory issues will appreciate Holly’s aversion to anything sticky. Others (adults included) who may be unfamiliar with sensory issues, will learn some great skills to prepare and encourage kids to try new things. There is even a recipe in the back of the book to make slime at home.
This book is told from the point of view of a child with autism. His friend Johnny, is not like him. He is neurotypical (NT). Sometimes he isn’t right on time, he might be a minute early or two minutes late. Johnny doesn’t always do things in the same order. He can’t even recite all of the opening credits for their favorite show word for word. Both boys learn that everyone’s brain works in different ways and that is OK.
From the Publisher: Rose Howard is obsessed with homonyms. She’s thrilled that her own name is a homonym, and she purposely gave her dog Rain a name with two homonyms (Reign, Rein), which, according to Rose’s rules of homonyms, is very special. Not everyone understands Rose’s obsessions, her rules, and the other things that make her different – not her teachers, not other kids, and not her single father.
When a storm hits their rural town, rivers overflow, roads are flooded, and Rain goes missing. Rose’s father shouldn’t have let Rain out. Now Rose has to find her dog, even if it means leaving her routines and safe places to search.
This Newbery Honor book is about Catherine, a typical 12-year-old girl who just wants everything to be normal. There is just one problem, she has a younger brother with autism. His behaviors continually annoy her and embarrass her in public until one summer she makes a new friend named Jason who also relates to the world around him in different ways. This story looks at autism from many different sides – from the child with autism, the parents, the siblings, and the community. It is a heartwarming book that any reader would enjoy.