Thursday, April 30, 2009
Autism and Me Book Review by ChristineMM
Title: Autism and Me Sibling Stories
Author: Ouisie Shapiro
Photographer: Steven Vote
Genre: nonfiction, children’s picture book, Autism
Publication: Albert Whitman & Company, March 1, 2009
Full Retail Price: $16.99
My Star Rating: 5 stars out of 5 "I Love It"
My Summary Statement: What Living with a Sibling with Autism is Like in the Child’s Own Words; Useful Tool for Parents to Start Discussions with Their Children
This picture book with full color photograph illustrations is a collection of stories written by children and teenagers who have a sibling with Autism. The children appear to range from age eight to nineteen and their siblings are either younger or older than them.
In these stories, the children candidly share details about their sibling’s life including how they are schooled and what their strengths and challenges are. The stories include the neuro-typical sibling’s emotions (positive and negative) about their sibling and how their behaviors, emotions or biologically based issues sometimes negatively affect the family or their experiences doing typical family activities in public places.
Ouisie Shapiro crafted these stories from interviews she had with the neuro-typical children and teenagers. Her crafting of the stories is well done with the same topics being covered in each story. The children whose stories are shared show empathy and perhaps more maturity than their peers may possess yet sometimes their frustration is shared which is entirely understandable for their age. Or perhaps the issue is that the interviewer over-edited the interviews and the younger children come off as being better spoken or more mature than they really are, I am not sure. Regarding the negative emotions, we can’t expect children and young teens to have the maturity level or high patience threshold that some adult parents with children with Autism have been able to summon up. I am happy to see that the stories are realistic and honest which includes some negative emotions as that is their reality!
After reading all the stories the general message and information that I learned is that not all children and teenagers with Autism have identical manifestations of the condition. They are schooled differently and they have different strengths and weaknesses. The challenges and problems are shared but the book is not all negative because within each story the sibling conveys their empathy and love for their sibling despite having to deal with things like public embarrassment, annoyed strangers in restaurants. The empathy and the ability of the children to communicate their emotions, especially the love they feel toward a not always easy to live with sibling touched me.
This book is unique and no other book like this exists on the market today to my knowledge.
I see this book being used as a read aloud to a child whose sibling has an Autism spectrum diagnosis. It is an excellent way to explain how Autism can affect different children in different ways (not everyone with Autism will be just like the child’s sibling). Reading aloud the stories with their positive message as well as expression of some negative emotions felt by the sibling, is an excellent way to start conversations between parents and their neuro-typical child. The neuro-typical child in a family with a sibling who has Autism deserves time and attention from their parents too, and they need their parents to help them process their emotions. For that reason I think this book is a must read and discussions afterwards should be encouraged. The book could be read in parts spread over time (especially if being read to younger children), or it could be read all at once. Owning a copy would allow the family to re-read the book numerous times as good conversation starters which would allow for ongoing discussions not just a ‘one time’ talk.
Kudos to Ouisie Shapiro for creating this book.
Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book for the purpose of writing a book review for the Amazon Vine program.
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