Thursday, April 2, 2009

Autism Awareness Month

Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. Autism is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a "spectrum disorder" that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. There is no known single cause for autism, but increased awareness and funding can help families today. -Autism Society of America
April is National Autism Awareness Month. Because so many children are affected by autism, either having siblings with autism within their own families or in their schools where autistic children are more and more mainstreamed into classrooms, I have provided today a couple picture book reviews about children who are dealing with the questions about their autistic siblings and peers. Hopefully, you'll find these useful!

Ellis, Marvie.
Keisha's Doors.
Speech Kids Texas Press, Inc.

Monica, a nine and a half year old is confused because her three year old sister Keisha won't play with her. Not only will Keisha not play with Monica, she won't talk to the family or play with any toys. Together, Keisha and her family visit the doctor to try and find out what's going on with Keisha. When the doctor diagnoses Keisha with autism, the family sees a therapist who works to help the family understand what is going on inside Keisha's body and to try and help the family with communication methods to work with Keisha.

The story very basically describes some of the impact that autism has on the autistic child as well as the family. However, I would say it is just a starting point and that in order to help siblings fully understand autism, a variety of books and educational methods should be used along side Keisha's Doors.

Lears, Laurie.
Ian's Walk: A Story about Autism.
Albert Whitman & Company.

Julie and her sister Tara are about to set off for a walk on a nice day, when Julie notices her younger brother Ian (who's autistic) waiting anxiously by the screen door, wanting to join his sisters for their walk. After mom agrees to let Ian join his sisters, the three set off to feed the ducks. The story does a wonderful job explaining the ways that autism affect the way a child with autism processes things differently than other children, from the way he hears to the way he sees. The story also does a wonderful job showing how special attention must be paid to Ian to be sure that he is always safe.

Again, while this book is wonderful, it alone will not explain all that a child might want to know about how an autistic sibling or classmate processes things differently. It is however, a good starting point and will provide children with an actual "story" that they will easily relate to!

Another wonderful resource about autism, this one targeted toward parents who are dealing with a diagnosis of Autism has just recently been published. It is titled, A Child's Journey Out of Austism: One Family's Story of Living in Hope and Finding a Cure. My previous review of that book can be found by clicking here.
If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to


style='clear: both;' Joan Holub said...

Hi Katie,

I have a good friend who has an autistic son. I'll pass these titles on to her. Thank you! Albert Whitman is one of my publishers, and they'll be delighted that you blogged one of their books. They're great about keeping titles in print, so this one may very well be available even though it's been around a decade.

I watched a movie with my friend called Autism the Musical not long ago. We enjoyed it, and she could definitely relate.

~ Joan

style='clear: both;' ReadingTub said...

I agree with your thoughts on Keisha's Doors. It's a nice start, but ... Have you read Understanding Sam by Clarabelle van Niekerk? It focuses on the Asperger Syndrom "side" of the spectrum. As the parent of an autistic child, I'd recommend it for use with siblings or in a classroom.