There’s a great new book for kids called Autism and Me: Sibling Stories, in which 14 kids, ages 5 to 17, give or take a year, tell readers what it’s like to live with a sibling who has autism. And they tell it like it is.
*their sibling is not like “regular” people, but they are also unique, or
*their brother or sister’s out-of-control behavior is frustrating, painful, or embarrassing, or
*they wish their sibling could speak or write or run fast, or
*their brother or sister is not dumb, or
*they are proud of their sibling’s accomplishments, like remembering details most people would forget, or never notice to begin with, or empathetic with teammates when they’re upset, or
*how much they enjoy and love their sibling, and
Author Ouisie Shapiro, whose niece Arie and nephew Luke are featured in the book, selected “telling,” sensitive, but not sappy, lines from her interviews with these children to illustrate how autism affects them. Photographer Steven Vote captured sibling interaction and, most important, the love between them in touchingly intimate photographs.
Kids who have siblings with autism will recognize themselves and their brothers or sisters in the essays and photos in this book. Perhaps they will want to write their own essays. Perhaps they’ll be comforted to know other kids think and feel some of the same things they do.
Kids who don’t have direct contact with autism will learn important information that will help them understand why people who have autism behave and think differently than other people, and it will help them develop empathy for these people.
Teachers and other adults will gain a new perspective about the many and varied manifestations of autism. I’ve read this book several times, and each time I come away with something new.
I recommend another book about what it’s like to be close to someone who’s “different” than other People: Best Friend on Wheels, by Debra Shirley.