Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Editing Emotions

Little Critter by Mercer Mayer
Parenting Works posted an edited Little Critter page that went viral.
The original page read "I wanted to cry, but I didn't. I was brave instead."
The edit read "I wanted to cry, so I did! I was brave and sad."
While many commenters embraced the thoughtfulness of the message, others questioned why you would pick a book 
you have to edit before you can read it.
As a mother, I'm all about giving my kids the best emotional grounding I can. As a reader and a writer I am less sympathetic to those changing the words. Write your own books.
It takes forever to get the words just right.

This particular edit is sweet, but I think would confuse kids, 
especially some with autism who are only just learning what "brave" means. 

By all means, let your kids know it is okay to cry. And perhaps choose another book, because this one tells a different story about how sometimes we feel like we have to not cry.

The educator who writes Parenting Works explained that this
was one of her childhood favorites, and that she lacks the time
to bring just the right library books home. Instead she edits her own book collection. While I admire her dedication, her calm intelligence, and her emotional understanding, I don't really get why that is better than talking about the ideas in the book (after all, Little Critter is crying in the picture. Why not ask, "Why do you think Little Critter says he didn't cry?") or reading a book that fits her ideal of emotional intelligence.

Yet there's an idea in this post for all of us trying to connect our kids with books. Judicious edits may help avoid problems or improve messages. With the Froggy books I edited out the rudeness as much as possible. If a book is almost perfect for your child, what's wrong with a little tweak? But I still prefer judicious selection of books to editing the text. Not only are you reading what a gifted author wrote (and with so many wonderful books in the world, why bother with anything less?), you also avoid having your hyperlexic detail oriented child with autism obsess over why you changed the words. 

Here's a link to the Little Critter page edited by Parenting Works and featured in Elevating Child Care.

Spectrum Mom

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Magazines - More RIppable Reads

 Last week I found a box in the basement that critters
(mice judging by their handiwork - pawdiwork?)
clawed up pretty well. 
Two Spider magazines survived the wreckage. I
brought them to the carport, mostly because of a cute
polar bear paper doll I thought a friend's kid would
Then my oldest boy saw them. He's sixteen now (must
update the profile). I've tried to clear a lot of old mags
out of his room. So instead of taking it to his room,
he stands over the magazines in the carport and reads
them there.
It has not occurred to him to bring them in, and I won't 
suggest it. He is immensely curious as to where they came
from and if there are more. He remembers all the ones he
read and used to get fairly obsessed with keeping track of them,
an impossible task because very few kept their covers more than a week. 
Without being actively destructive, he's very hard on
reading materials. He reads them on the floor or on the bed, and usually steps on them a lot without noticing.
While searching for a good image for this post I found there's a deep discount on Spider - here's the link
Spider contains a mix of stories, poems and activities, often a rebus
(my son remembers those) or a recipe.
Ladybug magazine (simpler stories and poems) usually has a song. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Disposable Reading

Last Saturday was Free Comic Book Day. 
If you missed it, schedule a reminder for the first Saturday of May 2018. In the meantime, you can still go to a comic book store.
If your reader is hard on books but does not eat paper, 
old comic books may be a great choice.
The larger comic book stores have tons of old kid friendly comics priced low enough that you can let kids read, so long as you can handle the three Rs:
I've already rescued my boy's comics from being sat on, and I know they'll soon
be shredded. 
He had trouble choosing. After fifteen minutes he had one comic book, Shrek.
I chose Bongo (The Simpsons) for him, and his brother picked up Scooby Doo
He looked at them right away in the car, but not again till I suggested he
read them this evening. So far, he's mainly pleased that Scooby Doo meets a
The thing about comics is, if it's in popular culture there's probably a comic
for it. So if your kid has a favorite tv show or movie and you'd like some
reading material based on it, there's a good chance you can find a comic
and use the tie-in to entice your kid to read a little something.
And comics are little somethings - 32 pages and done.
Short can be good.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time Play

The stage adaptation of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time is powerful. It is also loud, confusing, and sensorily overwhelming. 

Ironically, I can't recommend it for people with processing issues 
such as the main character has. This is clearly deliberate, since the
staging puts us in Christopher's position. We have to cope with
an overwhelming amount of stimuli and try to make sense of what
is going on in a challenging environment.

The subject matter rules it out for most pre-teens in any case,
but the staging also proved too upsetting for the young adult with
sensory sensitivities in our group.  

The brilliant concept of having a light box stage that can swim with stars, show maps, or let characters draw in light on the walls sets the show apart. Audience members adjust quickly to conventions, but the designers seemed determined to constantly surprise and challenge viewers. I still have no clear idea of the significance of the light up boxes the cast moved around the stage - but they looked great. The almost circus trick of Christopher curled up on fewer and fewer boxes was stunning, as were all the train sequences the astronaut scene, and the maths (English usage).

I definitely found the play worthwhile and moving. I also sometimes wished I were home alone with a good book. If in fact my son went or goes through anything like this in the way he experiences the world, I am more impressed than ever at how much he accomplishes.

Last week I wrote that Christopher in the book did not seem like someone on the spectrum to me. Christopher in the play came much closer - the melt downs he has in the play especially. Theory of mind deficits are a bit more in evidence, still .  .  . being able
to say that you find people confusing is just so - well - not what I usually see or read about in (non-fictional) kids with autism. 

Kids with autism have seen and enjoyed this show. However,
if you or someone you are planning to bring has sensory issues, I would advise caution. You may want to wait for an autism friendly performance (there have been some). And remember, the dog in the book and in the play does nothing in the night-time because it is dead. The play starts with a horrible loud noise and a dead dog.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Free Comic Book Day!


Saturday, May 6, 2017 is Free Comic Book Day 
and it's going to be 
 Seriously, that's one of the free comic books:
Miraculous, starring Lady Bug and Chat Noir.
Depending on your comic book store, your kid
can get everything from Simpsons
to Malika Warrior Queen.

I've written elsewhere in the blog about why I think comics
can be particularly helpful for readers with autism, today I'm just saying - go and enjoy!

For more on this special day, check out this link:
or get the NPR spin here

Monday, May 1, 2017

Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime

Curious Incident is a book, and now a play about a teenager named Christopher. Facts:
1) Mark Haddon is a novelist.
2) Mark Haddon does not have autism.
3) Mark Haddon was never a special education teacher.
4) Mark Haddon did not know anyone with autism well.
5) Mark Haddon did not research autism.
6) Mark Haddon didn't think of Christopher as having autism.
For some reason, Haddon misconceptions abound. A friend told me
#2 last night. Many people pushed this book at me and I read it
when first out, a very long time ago now. The misconceptions above shaped my reaction, which was - Christopher does not have autism. Now that I know the author agrees, I value this work of imagination more highly.
You may ask, as I ask, since autism is different in each individual, why do I feel so strongly that Christopher is not on the spectrum?
Basically, I don't recognize Christopher's blend of behaviors and analytical view of the world. Trouble with metaphors? Very usual. In depth analysis of said trouble? Highly un.
Yet whether you, like many, do find this a recognizable portrait of the gifts and challenges of autism, or like me, question it, the book remains a powerful example of what Haddon professedly wanted to show - an outsider struggling with the norms of a world he finds an uncomfortable place.
However you experience the central character, I think the book is a worthwhile read with many insights.
Next week, the play. 
*Source: and his biography on this website.


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Drawing Dot Dot Dot

A not so secret goal of many kids' coloring books is to 
get little kids comfortable holding that crayon in a 
tripod grasp, all ready to grab that pencil and start writing.
Drawing, of course, is even better for that purpose as kids 
form shapes - ready to begin/continue shaping letters.
For many children with autism, just getting the grip right
can take years. My sixteen year old still regresses.
While some may excel at art, others struggle with the basics.
So i can doodle Dots by Travis Foster gives a welcome head 
start to many.
The premise of this drawing book is simple. 
A simple drawing on one side of the page,
the outline for the same drawing on the other side
of the page, with space for variations.
For kids who need that model, this gives them a
chance to draw an interesting picture with visualization
help. Since visualization is another hurdle for many kids
with autism, this may really help.
What about you or your child? 
What kind of coloring/art books work best?