Friday, August 30, 2013

How Can We Explain Autism To Children?



Ever since my wife and I had the privilege to spend some time with a family with two autistic children a few months back (you may remember that it was one of the first posts on this blog) I have been kicking around the idea of writing another children’s book. The main reason is that I couldn’t find a book about autism geared toward the picture book age. Doesn’t mean there isn’t one out there I just haven’t been able to find it.

As if this project wasn’t hard enough, I am coming from a place where I have zero experience with autism. It made the process both easier and much harder. Easier because I had to focus on the few clear examples but much harder because I am long winded anyway and even more so when I am just learning about a subject. So, after a couple of months of thinking and rethinking and wondering what the heck I was doing I finally got to the point that I was able to put a few words on the page.

Below is the first, and very rough, attempt to tackle the subject. There seems to be something there worth saving but it also needs a lot of work mainly because I can’t see the words yet. It is repetitive but that is completely intentional. I don’t know exactly how I am going to tweak it but I am almost certain that changes will be made often until I can fine tune it.

Abby Knows Best

Abby is like any other little girl.
Abby likes little dogs, she likes watching cartoons, and she has her favorite dark green bear.
Abby was always different.
Abby doesn’t go to the same school as the other kids in the neighborhood.
Abby goes to a school where all the kids are just like her.
Abby is autistic.
Abby likes to visit her own little world where she twists over and over again.
Abby doesn’t talk but she speaks with her hands and through pictures.
Abby is sometimes hard to understand but she understands everything she hears.
Abby can’t read books but she can read people.
Abby doesn’t make eye contact but knows what is going on around her.
Abby shies away from contact but she always knows when you need a hug.
Abby doesn’t like loud noises but she loves the sound of her mother’s voice.
Abby likes playing with her dad and her older sisters.
Abby is happiest with her family.
Abby is a special little girl who knows love.

So, now that you have read the first draft (actually the second draft), what are your thoughts? Is this understandable for both parent and child? Most importantly, for those of you who know much more than I do on the subject, is it accurate?

Please let me know what your thoughts are on this project as I am, like I said before, definitely not in possession of any significant knowledge in this area. I know what I see and what I feel. Sometimes that is enough and sometimes it isn’t. I just want to do my part, as small as it may be, to raise awareness and cast a different light on these children who are not handicapped they just have a different way of life that we can't fully grasp. We are all made differently and we all interact in our own way with one another and the world around us. Different doesn’t mean better or worse it just highlights the uniqueness and individuality of life. That is what I want and what I hope shines through in the story above.