Friday, May 28, 2010

Required Reading for a Miserable Summer

Ida B : . . . and Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save the World (Bank Street College of Education Josette Frank Award (Awards))

My rising fifth grader just received his summer 
reading list.

Three of the six books rate high on the "read this if
you really want to be depressed" scale.

I'll reserve judgement on the other three although "child 
separated from family" describes two of them and the third
starts with a friendless kid. 

Not a good list for a child struggling to 
comprehend relatively simple concepts 
like why a kid might be scared of thunderstorms.

The pretty image at the top comes from
a book about a girl whose mother
gets breast cancer so they'll probably
have to sell their home.

Bud, Not Buddy
Bud, Not Buddy is about an orphan
who endures horrible abuse.

Among the Hidden (Shadow Children #1)
Among the Hidden describes
a dystopian future where the
protagonist's existence is illegal
because he's a third child
(should be balanced by a
dystopian future where everyone
has as many kids as they want
but there's no clean air or water .   .  .
but I digress).

The Music of Dolphins
The Music of the Dolphins
snatches a girl from her
family (so what if they're

I'm sure these books are 
well written. But why are
we piling angst on 5th graders?

The Magician's Elephant

Sigh. If anyone has experience
with these books and can
suggest which might work
for a boy like my son
whose emotional
turmoil mostly comes
from the cup lid not
matching the cup or
having an unexpected
change in schedule, and
who wants everyone
to be happy and doesn't
understand why they're 
please let me know!

-Spectrum Mom

Monday, May 24, 2010

What Kind of Dino Flies?

My oldest asked us that at lunch.
"I don't know." we responded.
"A dinosaur" he responded

SCREATURE Interactive Dinosaur

Earlier in this blog I discussed
the canard that kids with
autism have no sense of 
humor (found in an
article about kids with
autism given to us as
parents of a newly
diagnosed child).

My boy enjoys jokes. He pages
through joke books quickly,
and memorizes knock knocks
by page. He needs more
explanation of puns than
your average nine year
old, but he yields to no
one except his little 
brother in his ability to
repeat them ad nauseam.

Little bro only wins at that
because big bro repeats joke
as heard or read. Little bro
feels free to say "bannana"
or "orange" (he reverses
sometimes-"Aren't you
glad I didn't say orange 
again?") 24 times.

Knock Knock Jokes (Dover Game and Puzzle Activity Books)

Big bro likes this one
from Dover books.

Scholastic offered this one
How to Be the Funniest Kid in the Whole Wide World (or Just in Your Class)
Not as popular with him,
the layout is strange.

I think the best joke
books for kids on the
spectrum share 
qualities with
other books I've

- Pictures that reflect the text

- Thematic unity
(all knock knocks
or all riddles)

Spectrum Mom out.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Ty Sniffs - PigCuddlekins Wolf - 30-Inch

Children like routine.  Children
with autism demand it.

Folk tales and fairy tales reflect
this love of predictability.
Often the story repeats itself.
Three sons go off on a quest,
one at a time. A princess
wears out three pairs of
iron shoes. She bribes
her husband's captor
with three gifts, and spends
three nights talking with

For our kids with autism,
the world of human behavior
seems even more 
than it does to the rest of us.
The satisfaction of knowing
what is likely to happen
next starts in picture
books (my thanks to Sarah
who noted pattern as an
appeal of Napping House
to her grandson) and 
continues for life.

We may like surprises,
but we must be able to
predict first, otherwise
every moment is a surprise.
The Three Billy Goats Gruff / Los Tres Chivitos (Brighter Child: Keepsake Stories (Bilingual)) (English and Spanish Edition)
My oldest son loves the comfort
of the Trit Trot, Trit, Trot
and only after five years
is now experimenting with
saying  "trit" to drive his 
four year old brother crazy.
Both endlessly act out
Billy Goats Gruff and
Three Little Pigs.

Sometimes, oldies are

-Spectrum Mom

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Dick King-Smith

The Twin Giants
Family and friends may recall that my 
boy on the spectrum recalls what day 
he read which book.  The fall of 2008 
(he was 8) was partly devoted to the 
works of Dick King-Smith. 

You may know King-Smith from Babe
Babe the Gallant Pig: The Movie StorybookBabe: The Gallant Pig

probably the movie version, but
King-Smith has written many books,
usually, but not always, about animals.

My boy says we read Lady Lollipop
in September, 2008 and the
Twin Giants in October.

Whimsy and simple stories helped us
read these books, though Lady Lollipop
proved tough going sometimes. The 
Princess and her new friends the pig
Lollipop and the pig boy have sometimes
complex emotions. Kids with autism can
have a difficult time understanding
other people's emotions beyond happy
and sad. Frequent pictures helped.

Twin Giants pleased with lots of
pictures, large text, and a simple
goal oriented plot.

Perhaps King-Smith should
write a book about a giant
pig .   .    .

-Spectrum Mom

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Something to Do

Something to Do

Sometimes when the kids use that 
endless energy of theirs to bounce 
off the walls and each other, or worse, 
me, and that energy siphon I invented 
to drain that stuff off so I can use it still 
doesn't work, I just sit down and start 
reading aloud to them.

Sometimes they stop to listen.

They both sat when I started
Something to Do by David Lucas
Spectrum lad liked the sparse prose
and simple lines. I think his brother
liked that they were bears. Both boys 
liked that they went to the moon 
because both boys plan to do that
some day.
The Adventures of Harold and the Purple Crayon

There's a bit of Harold and the 
Purple Crayon magic here,
but this "little something" 
from Lucas is beautifully

-Spectrum Mom

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Mo Willems

Mo Willems achieved picture book 
superstar status with

by Mo Willems Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! 1st edition

a unique blend of comic strip, picture
book, and meta book followed by
many sequels: 
The Pigeon Finds a Hotdog!
Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late!
The Pigeon Loves Things That Go!
The Pigeon Has Feelings, Too!
and (we haven't read this one)
The Pigeon Wants a Puppy!

As you can tell from all the exclamation 
marks, the Pigeon is a bird of strong
feelings. He and other characters speak
directly to the reader. This engaging
technique works very well with both
my sons, on the spectrum and off.

Although aimed at the preschool
Kindergarten set, 
my nine year old still likes
them for relaxation from more
complex books. The exaggerated
feelings may help him understand
emotions and develop empathy.

And even if they don't, they're
fun to read. 

My good friend Leah also
highly recommends his 
Elephant and Piggie books
Pigs Make Me Sneeze! (An Elephant and Piggie Book)
-a first reader series that
makes her girls Jinae and 
Callie want to read-and
her boy William checked
outI Will Surprise My Friend! (An Elephant and Piggie Book)
so he likes them too.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Magazines for Children with Autism

Smart Solar/Smart Solar 3656MRM4 Ladybug Solar Light Set. 4 pack. Red
If you're reading this for guidance, 
remember I'm not an expert, just a 
mom of two, one of whom has a
PDD-NOS diagnosis.

I especially feel I have to say
that on this post, because while
my son glues himself to magazines,
I'm not sure he reads them exactly.

He grabs at them, dives for them,
demands them, and loves them to
death, but he doesn't discuss the
stories, tho he sometimes does
variations on the poems. 

1500 Live LadyBugs - A GOOD BUG! - Lady Bug
His Grandma used to send
him Ladybug-his brother
gets that now-and now
sends him Spider.

These are beautiful 
magazines, published
by the Carus folks who
publish Cricket (which
my grandparents sent

Stories, cartoons, songs
and poems, all accompanied
by beautiful illustrations
grace these magazines.

But at school, my son
loves to dive under a
desk and read
 Highlights For Children

He just likes magazines.

Maybe because he
knows he can finish

Maybe because we
almost never ask him
to read the stories

Anyone have a theory?