Saturday, July 28, 2012

My Brother is Different: A parents' guide to help children cope with an Autistic sibling, by Barbara J. Morvay

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For many years I worked as an Early Childhood Educator at a developmental daycare (one that specialized in Special Needs Education). During that time I met and worked with many children with Autism and their families. I've also been a daycare teacher for about a decade, so I've read hundreds (thousands?) of children's books. My Brother is Different was written by a Special Needs Educator, not by a children's book author, and it shows.

It's informative (at least on a simple level) and it covers all the points the author was trying to make (that the sibling of an Autistic child may be confused, scared, frustrated, etc. by their sibling's behaviour) but as a children's book...well, it's terrible.

I'm sure it'll find its way on to the shelves of many teachers' and parents' collections, and perhaps it should. It does give good ideas for parents on how to talk to their children (all of their children) about Autism. But if it were used as the author intended, with the illustrated portion of the book being read to (or by) a child directly, I can't imagine it would be very successful.

There are a lot of books on the market that present Autism and other special needs to children in the form of picture books, and some of them are excellent. I've read a fair number of them to daycare classes over the years. This would probably not be added to that list. It has wonderful intentions but it might be better used as a starting point for parents and educators to have a conversation with their child, rather than as a picture book for a child to read and respond to.

Do you have favourite books about Autism? How about books that help children deal with difficult subjects?

One of my favourites is When My Autism Gets Too Big, by Karl Dunn Buron. Granted, it's aimed at the child who has Autism, but it's also pretty helpful in helping other children understand a little bit what it feels like for the Autistic child.

When My Autism Gets Too Big! A Relaxation Book for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
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Disclaimer: I received a digital galley of this book free from the publisher from I was not obliged to write a favourable review, or even any review at all. The opinions expressed are strictly my own.

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