Wednesday, August 29, 2012

My Brother Charlie - Part 2 The Review

I have two sons affected by autism. I have a twelve year
old diagnosed with autism, and I have a six year old who
has a brother with autism.
My Brother Charlie is a book about Callie and her twin
brother with autism from Callie's point of view.
Sometimes "there are days when it's hard to be
Charlie's sister. Sometimes he can ruin the best
But Callie appreciates her brother's gifts too.
"Charlie is good at so much.
He knows the names of all the American presidents!
He's a fish in the water."
This is a sweet book about one kid with autism,
and, if you're looking for a book for kids about
autism, a good choice.
My six year old would not sit still while I read it.
He finds his brother annoying, a word that youthful
co-author Ryan Peete also uses about her brother.
I hope the book's message of acceptance will sink in,
but for now he feels that Charlie's autism is better
than his brother's. Charlie says "I love you" when his
sister is hurt. My older boy gets upset when my younger
boy is hurt. This upsets my younger boy more.
In general I like this book very much. The mother -
daughter team that produced it (read more about
Holly Robinson Peete in yesterday's post) describe 
a unique boy with recognizable autism. The book
is for "families struggling with autism" and those
"who have friends facing it." I think it fulfills that
mission. I found one phrase jarring, "I know Charlie
wants to be in my world, fitting in," that may be
true of Charlie, but my boy likes his world. Fitting
in seems like an imposed goal for him.
The book ends strong:
"Charlie has autism. But autism doesn't have Charlie."
Feels more universal to me.
-Spectrum Mom

Featured Book: My Brother Charlie
Authors: Holly Robinson Peete and Ryan Elizabeth Peete with Denene Miller
Pictures: Shane W. Evans
Source: free review copy

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Talent Tuesday My Brother Charlie by Peete & Peete Part One

Holly Robinson Peete and her daughter Ryan Elizabeth Peete 
bring the talent today in their heartfelt picture book about autism,        My Brother Charlie.  
Actually, the book is not about autism, but about a wonderful boy who has autism and his caring twin sister who does not.
This situation mirrors that of Ryan and RJ Peete, 
twins affected by autism. RJ has autism, Ryan does not.
The twins love each other, but communication is not
always easy. 
Their mother, Holly Robinson Peete, may well be the
most famous person associated with autism. Already
a famous actress married to a famous athlete when
the twins were born, RJ's diagnosis set her on a course
to become a vocal and effective advocate for those
affected by autism, and to found HollyRod4Kids 
for families impacted by autism or Parkinson's Disease.
Five percent of the Peetes' royalties for this book go
to the foundation. My Brother Charlie is at bookstores,
or you can go to the website.
I've been looking for a book to explain his brother's 
autism to my younger son, and (thanks for the review
copy!) now I have one.
Tomorrow, I'll tell you how that went.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Education Friday - Expert Reading Tips

We all hunger for expert advice, so I've borrowed some
from Autism Key .  Just because these tips come from
reading experts does not mean they are the best ideas

for your child. See the note from the author below
about how well audio worked for one boy.
That said, these tips sound good to me and echo
what I've said here, and heard and done myself.
-Spectrum Mom 

• Set aside a specific time each day to read. 
• Choose non-fiction books rather than fantasy. 
• Read books that prepare them for events and/or engage their special interests. 
• Choose book with a tactile component such as different textures or a pop-up format. 
• Ask frequent questions about the story. 
• Have them recount the story to you after you’ve finished reading it. 
• In advance prepare pictures of nouns in the story that your child may not know so that you can show rather than tell him or her what they mean. 
• Use flash cards for phonics. 
• Emphasize simple rhymes. 
• Repetition. Repetition. Repetition. 

To this, I would add a personal story. One of my sons with autism is dyslexic 

and didn’t begin to read until he was in the fourth grade. 
His breakthrough came when he got an audio book of a story set in colonial times. 
He holed up in his room and read the paperback version as he listened to it 
being read over and over again every day for two weeks. 
After that, he could suddenly read and was beside himself with excitement and joy. 
So while visuals are important, sometimes it’s the audio component that switches 
on the light inside the autistic brain. 
(see more and read about the authors at Autism Key

I would add, keep a dictionary and picture encyclopedia handy. If your child
is like mine, there is no way you can prepare pictures for every word that may

give trouble. Sometimes parents use smartphones or tablets, but those results
may be less predictable.

-Spectrum Mom 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Art Tells a Story

Art by Bill Traylor at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts

Give your child a picture book and ask for a story.
Or walk into your local art museum and find a
story there. 
Nashville currently offers several exhibits that
will appeal to your children, and even
some that you can climb.
Bill Traylor's images at the Frist Center have the
kid appeal of clear images and fun subjects,
like the elephant above. 

The Gee's Bend quilt exhibit gives kids a chance to see that the things around them can be art too.
Cheekwood Botanical Gardens and Museum
offers the stunning photos of "Every Tree 
Tells a Story" and even more exciting for
kids, treehouses based on books like 
The Rainbow Fish.
Hurry, these exhibits will soon be gone.
What are the exhibits that spur your kid's imagination?


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Books A Ten Year Old Likes & The Power of Pooh

I interrupt my Art series 
(more Art tomorrow) 
for one of my favorite things - 
someone else's favorites!
In this case a ten year old boy with autism 
who likes Pokemon, Ben 10, Spongebob, dinosaurs 
and Pooh books.
Many thanks to his mom for sharing!
His list intrigues me:
1 Pokemon, Ben 10, Spongebob
all very peer relatable characters.
2 Dinosaurs
books on this topic are endless and
can lead all sorts of wonderful places.
3 Pooh
(original or Milne inspired?
I don't know.)
This last choice speaks to the comfort
of familiar characters, and the unwillingness
to discard them just because a kid may be
a little older than other kids who like them. 
Kids with autism often don't worry about age
appropriateness (this can be good/bad).
So this is one well balanced kid who combines
in his likes books that will help him with friends,
books that will help him with school,
and books that he's probably always liked and
still does.
And why not? I still like them too.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Art Start 2 When Pigasso Met Mootise

When Pigasso Met Mootise is a fun book even if you don't
live near a museum with art by these two masters. If you
do, read it with your child and take it along to the museum.
Picasso and Matisse might not seem obviously child 
friendly, but both often featured bold clear compositions
and bright colors. Neither went for storybook illustration,
but that doesn't mean you and your child can't talk about
a story, whether it's the one suggested by the book or
suggested by the painting.
See if your child feels inspired to paint. Perhaps you
can make and illustrate your own book. Every child 
has a unique outlook, and sometimes art lets a child
with little or no verbal language express ideas and
feelings. Perhaps you can make a book about your
museum visit or try to create an original "Mootise."
Remember, there's no right or wrong in art. This
is a chance to let go of worry and expectation and
just let your child do as s/he pleases (within reason,
I always make a rule of no eating the art materials).
-Spectrum Mom

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Start with Art Part One

Art can be wonderfully expressive. While not every child
with autism will respond strongly to art, every child should
be exposed to art early and often. Art gives children
new ways to communicate, and to see the world.
Art for Baby is a visually high impact sturdy board book 
ideally suited not just for babies, but for young children with
Haring's "Radiant Baby" and Caufield's "Duck" are among
the twelve images and the book also includes posters of
the art.
Of course, picture books already include art. But a book
like this removes the words and makes the art the focus.
In this series I'll feature ideas about how to incorporate 
more art into your child's reading and life.
Next week in Part Two: more for the early years.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Talent Tuesday - Troy's Amazing Universe

Author Sharon Kennedy Tosten reads the book Troy's Amazing Universe K for Karate with her son Troy who is the star of the special action adventure series.

Today's Talent Tuesday features 

Author Sharon Kennedy Tosten (see above) describes the series like this: 

For the first time ever, see, hear and feel what it’s like to be inside the incredible mind of Troy,
a seven year old with a mind that not only thinks differently, but maybe even thinks better.  
This is a book meant for all children, but especially for those who have been diagnosed with autism.   

This book gives children with the autism diagnosis a hero that they can 
both relate and look up to. Creatures with double eyes, others who live their lives on fire, 
and still more strange aliens are thrown into a grueling competition, against a frightened 
father and son team from the planet Earth.  
What happens when a young boy and his dad who can’t communicate are thrown into a world 
where they must understand each other in order to survive?  

Troy is an autistic seven year-old with a speech problem, 
and he relies on his sharp intelligence and strategic thinking to navigate the world.   
Ron Tomler is Troy’s caring, yet absent- minded,  father, who is at a loss to find 
common ground with his son.  
Troy and his father are taken by aliens and must compete in a special all galaxy Olympics, 
where the penalty of losing is the destruction of your planet.  
The two of them must work together as a team to outwit the aliens and save the Earth.  

There are three more books in the series and in each one children with autism 
will see how their special minds can find answers many others overlook. 
 In the series, Troy escapes kidnappers, battles with aliens, 
discovers the world’s greatest toy, 
and must learn to escape a complicated multi level game.  
Each book takes a special child’s mind on a new journey and shows how to use the 
brain's complicated thought processes to solve the even most difficult problems. 
Hidden in these books are the clues to help children with autism unlock the gateways 
and help them reach their fullest potential.

To learn more and/or to order the books, go to the website.