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Living With Autism

Ronna Mandel  reviews a new picture book that allows parents to start a conversation about autism with their children.

With current statistics at 1 out of 88 children having autism, chances are that either you have a child with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder or know one.  Therefore it makes good sense that we should learn as much as we can to help educate our children.

There’s a saying in the autism community that if you’ve met a child with autism, you’ve met one child with autism because no two children are affected the same way. Keep this in mind when reading David’s World: A Picture Book  About Living With  Autism ($16.95, Sky Pony Press, ages 5-8) by Dagmar H. Mueller with illustrations by Verena Ballhaus and translated by Kim Gardner.

David’s World brings us into the home of a family with one autistic child, David, and told from the perspective of his brother. I was immediately touched by the economy of words in a book that manages to speak volumes about such a serious subject. Every word the author has chosen works, quite powerfully in parts, in this wonderful new 28 page picture book. That David speaks another language, the language of autism is carefully conveyed in page after page and will open not only your child’s eyes but yours as well.

“Sometimes I don’t like David. He’s so different.” This is often a major struggle for siblings of children on the spectrum and it is handled so sensitively and appropriately. “He doesn’t laugh when we laugh, and he doesn’t cry when he’s sad.” But David is his brother and our narrator is going to do everything possible with the help of his parents to understand his brother’s world.

Sometimes David gets angry, sometimes David is sad, and most of the time, according to the narrator, he and David don’t like the same things. And while David likes to play piano and can play amazingly well, by ear, David’s brother plays soccer. However, from time to time he’ll “plop down on the carpet and listen …”  What I found particularly encouraging was that Mueller chose to focus on David’s strengths such as his musical gift and his innate ability to relate to animals such as a neighbor’s dog. This is extremely vital when explaining autism to children. Because it is a spectrum, there are varying degrees of how it impacts a child’s abilities.  Children need to appreciate the whole person and what special qualities every individual has, autistic or not.

Ballhaus’s illustrations are a blend of surreal and spot on when she depicts David with a brick walled body; overwhelmed by assorted annoying noises such as a mixer and a vaccuum; soaring free like a bird at the keys of a piano. There’s also a Matisse-like feel to the colors selected making the illustrations feel positive and complementary to the text.

I highly recommend this original picture book for all that it says and all that it does not have to say.

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6th Annual Autism Awareness Month Giveaway from Brookes

libraryIn honor of Autism Awareness Month, Brookes Publishing will pick three lucky winners weekly in April to receive one of six subject-specific mini-libraries (Behavior, General Autism, Inclusion, Clinical, Transition, Author Paula Kluth) of six titles. Brookes has been publishing books for improving the lives of people with autism over 30 years. Register for the giveaway at www.brookespublishing.com/autism


Winners will select one of the following mini-libraries:


Behavior: Resolve meltdowns and other challenging behaviors in school, at home, and in the community with these practical, must-have guidebooks
General Autism: A diverse collection of essential books on inclusion, transition, intervention, behavior, generalization, and special education
thompson-71738Author Paula Kluth: From renowned autism expert Paula Kluth, these popular, research-based how-to guides will help you ensure the best possible education for learners with autism
Clinical: Animal therapies, assistive technology, ADHD…these books from top experts are required reading for anyone managing the clinical aspects of autism intervention
Inclusion: Get the nuts and bolts of fully inclusive education with these invaluable resources on friendships, access to the general curriculum, and successful paraprofessionals
Transition: Smooth transitions to adulthood will be easier with these practical guidebooks on everything from college preparation to employment

See exclusive Q&As, video clips, and other resources from Brookes Publishing’s 11 expert authors, when you visit Brookes Publishing’s Autism Resource Center at www.brookespublishing.com/autism.

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Get on Board with a Good Book on National Train Day May 8th

A Is for “All Aboard!” is one of those books both my son and daughter would have loved when they were younger and big-time into all things
T R A I N!! We had our turn with Thomas and Brio, even Lionel for a while, but there’s nothing like the real thing. I have to admit we are all tremendous train fans in our family. Having lived in both Frankfurt and London, we frequently travelled by train throughout the Continent and the U.K. taking the Eurostar and the I.C.E.  I was even hoping we’d get a chance on the TGV in France or better yet, the fabled Orient Express, but there’s still time.

516fonxryhl_sl500_aa300_Reading through this lively new book has brought all our exciting train journeys back to the fore and will definitely get youngsters eager to have an experience of their own. My husband still takes my son, Coleman, down to Union Station now and then and frankly I wonder if it’s really more for him than for Coleman!

Written by Paula Kluth, Ph.D. and Victoria Kluth, the  daughters of a Green Bay & Western Railroad worker, this ABC book  for train lovers is both educational and entertaining. When I delved a little deeper I also discovered the book was conceived with autistic children in mind, and the publisher’s Web site says the authors even incorporated feedback from children with autism. The bright bold artwork by Brad Littlejohn will capture kids’ attention and the information is sure to spark their imagination. The language used is clear and concise and many new concepts are introduced creating great learning opportunities.  I liked the teaching tips included at the end pages since ABC books are a great vehicle for engaging children and promoting literacy. At $16.95 this book is worth every penny.

The following is an example that is a particular favorite of mine. O is for Orient Express: The Orient Express is the name of a long-distance passenger train. The route has changed many times. Paris and Istanbul were its original end points.

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