Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Captain Underpants Returns!

Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants

Grandmother and grandchild reading together make for 
a nice Norman Rockwell scene. Of course, if your child
has autism, there may be as much jumping up and running
and tangentially related remarks as reading, but still, a very
sweet moment at least, or ten minutes if you're lucky.
My mother mentioned a while back (about 30 posts ago)
that she hadn't had much of a chance to read with
my boy, so I'm trying to change that.
Now maybe Captain Underpants isn't the exact book
you might want to choose for the greatest generation
to read to the youngest generation, but that was the
book my son and I had been reading, so that's what
she got to read.
Jus' fine, really. Yes, he gets up and runs down the
hall at exciting moments, and yes, my mother finds
the book fairly silly, but I think they both enjoy my
son's rendition of Professor Poopypants' lines and
my mother's way with a suspenseful narrative.
So if you have the family gathered, you may
want to try to have your very own skip a generation
reading group. Who knows? You may get ten minutes
to yourself.

-Spectrum Mom

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Books of Christmas

Special guest blogger today (italics mine): 
The Little Christmas Tree
I like The Little Christmas Tree because of the Christmas tree.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
 I like How the Grinch Stole Christmas because I wanted to know how 
I think the story went. 
(he says "I like the show better." But he's memorized much of the text.)
The Bears' Christmas
I like The Bears' Christmas because of its rhymes.
(if you click this picture, Amazon lists it as a 1 cent book-SM)
The Mouse Before Christmas
I like The Mouse Before Christmas because of its rhymes.
(Did you guess the guest blogger is my son? 
The Little Christmas Tree is his favorite.)
Merry Christmas  (if you celebrate Christmas)
and Joy to the World-joy to you in particular.
-Spectrum Mom

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Gifts for My Child with Autism

There's a Wocket in My Pocket!

If you know my son, you are hereby sworn to 
secrecy - do not mention this post to him
until after Christmas.
My lovable ten year old took years to ask for
anything more specific than "a present" for
Christmas, but this year he wanted a Ladybug
pillow pet and "Christmas books." Quizzed as
to whether those were books given for Christmas
or books about Christmas, he said both. Then
at school he asked for a Jane and the Dragon
book (we watch the tv show).
Jane and the Dragon
His kind assistant who's been going with him
to the library for about a year only to have him
head for the Dr. Seuss books every time, gave 
him There's a Wocket in My Pocket (see top).
I also have The Christmas Day Kitten for him.
The Christmas Day Kitten
You probably realize these books are young
for a middle schooler. My boy can read the
words of age appropriate books, but for 
enjoyment he still heads for the picture
book section. 
Remember, if you see him, mum's the word.
Happy Holidays,
Spectum Mom
Stinky (Toon)
Forgot to mention Stinky, he's already read it,
but we really liked it (very funny and the message
is make friends with someone who is different)
and Toon Books gave us our very own copy
to keep (see "Where's the Post?" or check out 
my article at
Perhaps no coincidence that Stinky won a
Geisel award.

If you get a child with autism that you love 
one of these or any other book for Christmas, 
let us know what happened in the New Year.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Gifts for Children with Autism

Special limited time offer (I'm the one with the limited time making the offer) make a comment
or send an email ( with a description of the wonderful kid with autism
you want to gift with a book and I will make a personalized recommendation. Please include age,
and anything you know about reading/verbal ability.
Or click on one of the previously recommended books below to buy from Amazon
(see my profile for more info).  
If you want to read great descriptions of great
kids' books go to
I love their catalogs and have found several great reads for my boy there.

Pussycat Pussycat: and other Rhymes (My Very First Mother Goose)

Touch and Feel: Ponies


The Storm (The Lighthouse Family)

Lunch Walks Among Us (Franny K. Stein, Mad Scientist)

The Man Who Wore All His Clothes

On the Dog (Andrew Lost #1)

My Father's Dragon: The Bestselling Children Story
Dodger and Me

Hatchet: 20th Anniversary Edition

Friday, December 10, 2010

Back to the Book Club

The River

As promised, more on the book clubs.
I think it's significant that the teen 
reader with autism I mentioned months 
ago also liked Paulsen.
I'm curious as to the different dynamics
of the clubs that include all disabilities and
those that just have members with autism.
Does anyone have any Next Chapter
Book Club experience?

The majority of our book clubs are diverse in terms of age, reading level, and ability/disability.  However, we do have a couple local Next Chapter Book Clubs specifically for young people on the autism spectrum.  These clubs were formed in collaboration with “Aspirations”, a social and vocational support program for adolescents and young adults with high-functioning autism and Asperger’s.  Aspirations was also founded at Nisonger; you can find out more at  I  know that Hatchet and The River (both by Gary Paulsen) have been successful.

Jillian Ober, MA, CRC
Program Manager
The Ohio State University Nisonger Center

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Book Lists (& Clubs) for Teens with Autism

Next Chapter Book Club: A Model Community Literacy Program for People with Intellectual Disabilities

Today is a guest post from an expert,
Jillian Ober, the Program Manager
for Next Chapter, the book clubs I
posted about last week.
When I emailed her asking for more
information she sent a wonderful
response and gave me permission
to share all with you. She's also 
happy to respond to further questions.
See below for a link to a book list
and a description of the books they
use, etc.
I'll post more of her email about the book 
clubs (including info on book clubs 
specifically for young people with autism) 

You can find the current list of 80+ titles in the Columbus, OH Next Chapter Book Club Library at  We serve as a lending library for our 25 local book clubs and for some of our NCBC affiliates (affiliates are organizations operating NCBC programs outside of Columbus, OH) as they work to establish their own libraries.  
For the most part, our books fall into two categories: adapted classics (approx. third/fourth grade reading level) and popular fiction (these books are not adapted, but are generally written for a younger audience).  We are also working on a project that will provide literature with adult themes (i.e. employment, relationships, health, families) written at an accessible reading level for NCBC members and other adults with intellectual disabilities.

 If you’d like to learn more about the program, you can find our book, Next Chapter Book Club: A Model Community Literacy Program for People with Intellectual Disabilities on  

Jillian Ober, MA, CRC
Program Manager
The Ohio State University Nisonger Center

Monday, December 6, 2010

Let's Get Physical

The Good, the Bad, and the Smelly (Adventures of Uncle Stinky)
How does your child read?
Physically I mean?
Because my boy wants to sprawl on a rug,
wrap himself in a blanket cocoon, and kick
something. I am now conditioned to relax 
when I hear a small piece of furniture bumping
against the floor-he's reading, not just stimming.
While this is his preferred reading posture,
it doesn't seem an effective one for analyzing
and retaining texts. But that is not what interests
my son about books. Numbers and repetition
rock his world. So he's reading the Seuss Beginner
Dictionary or The Sleep Book for the Umpteenth
time and moving that footstool up off the floor and
down again with his feet. On the bed he now reads
Uncle Stinky: The Good, Bad, and the Smelly while 
kicking the headboard and Dodger and Me 
(kicking, not reading, perhaps providing some 
valuable extra sensory input and definitely bending 
back the cover-not a library book I hasten to add).
I should mention that I think he reads the same two 
pages over and over-pages 12&13, a list of U.S. 
presidents who did not sniff things 
(makes sense in the book). Anyway,
there's connections going on here, but darned
if I know exactly how/whether to promote
-Spectrum Mom

Friday, December 3, 2010

Join the Club!

Black Beauty (Unabridged Classics)

I love book clubs. So I'm delighted to find (read in an email
from Leisa Hammett actually) that there are book clubs
especially for teens and adults with autism or other 
developmental delays.

Ohio State University Nisonger Center launched
the Next Chapter Book Clubs to provide a social
group especially for people with developmental disabilities. 
You can find out more at
Contact them to see if there's a book group near you or to start one.
A quick look showed a Midwest cluster (Indiana, Illinois, Ohio)
If you are in Nashville, instant gratification-here's the flyer from my email:


What is the Next Chapter Book Club?

Adolescents and adults with developmental disabilities reading and learning, making friends, and enjoying a fun community gathering place.
How does it work?

Members will meet Tuesday Evenings from 7:00 -8:00 p.m. at the café inside Target on White Bridge Road.

Who can participate?

Anyone can participate, no matter their reading or ability level.

NCBC members improve literacy skills, make friends, take part in the community, and have a lot of fun doing it!

If you are interested in participating please contact Sharon Bottorff at HYPERLINK "" or Rita Dozier at
(Funded by a grant from the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities)

Fun         Lifelong Learning         Friends

Oliver Twist (Unabridged Classics)
Ms. Bottorff says that the participants select the books. The other groups picked Black Beauty and Oliver Twist. Contact her or Ms. Dozier about Nashville or other Tennessee groups.

Let's get together and talk books!
-Spectrum Mom

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Return of the Dragon

Elmer and the Dragon (My Father's Dragon)

I love reading to my children, but it's not always
easy.  My boy with autism at various times has
had to be cajoled, tricked, and almost sat on in
order to get him to sit still and listen to a story.
This summer vacation I wrote about how much 
the boys enjoyed My Father's Dragon at bedtimes.
So recently I checked out the sequel, but with
mixed results. The boys don't share a room at 
home, so there was no snuggling and settling
down. Instead this has been me and the my ten 
year old in his room sometimes fending off a
randomly bouncing four year old.
I think Elmer and the Dragon is a very
engaging story, but despite the cliff hanger 
endings of each chapter, he's displayed no
impatience or desire to read ahead on his own.
He seems to like the book well enough, but
I keep him engaged only by insisting he voice
one of the characters (I let him choose between
Elmer and the dragon-he picked Elmer).
For some children, the dragon would be enough
reason to read the book.
Here's hoping your child has a go to animal
for enchantment-

-Spectrum Mom