The Autism Acceptance Book: Being a friend to Someone with Autism by Ellen Sabin focuses on helping children understand and embrace the differences they see in a friend with autism. This short 62 page workbook style book can help children and adults learn not only the challenges a child with autism faces, but also learn to see the skills and potential of their friend.
When my son was first diagnosed with Aspergers/High Functioning Autism, I felt overwhelmed, yet reassured. Although I now had a vast array of resources available, I had no clue where to start. A special education teacher and good friend of mine recommended I start with The Autism Acceptance Book. She told me that she has used this book over the years in her classroom whenever she had a new student that was on the autism spectrum to help the classmates understand their friend with Autism. She recommended I use it to help my 7 year old better understand her brother.
The book begins by explaining what autism is in a very simple to read dialog with no complex medical jargon. I have used this section to help me better explain strengths and struggles common to Autism, as well as which ones apply to my son.
Not only does the book explain what it is like to have autism, but it offers ways for a child to try to see the world through the eyes of someone with autism. For example, the book explains that people with autism may have very good hearing. It goes on to say how that can be a very good trait, but how it can also overwhelm and distract someone. Finally, it gives a concrete example to help the reader understand by discussing a firetruck siren getting louder and louder and hurting their ears.
Throughout the book, there are examples and questions to help engage young readers. There is room on pages to write answers and observations. In a classroom setting, it might be best to use a whiteboard or flip chart to write down the students' responses.
One thing that stood out to me the most is the sections of the book giving examples of how to be a good friend to someone with autism. There are simple tips and reminders that help children see things through their friend's perspective. For instance, after discussing how people with autism may have a hard time talking, it says, "If your friend doesn't want to talk, don't be hurt, since you know that he might just be frustrated." It also offers examples of how to help and how to possibly comfort their friend.
The explanations and examples found in this book are simple enough for children to understand, yet informative enough for adults to benefit. Many times I have been caught in a situation where I tell a friend or acquaintance that my son was diagnosed with Aspergers syndrome, and they ask what that means. I often find myself quoting this book.
You can purchase The Autism Acceptance Book from Amazon for $13.88
Rachel H. is loaning her copy of this book to her son's Kindergarten teacher. She is also thinking about purchasing one for the school to have as a resource for any class with a student on the Autism Spectrum.