Friday, February 05, 2016

REVIEWS: Books about Autism for Siblings - By Thomas Kane

My name is Thomas Kane, and I am twelve years old. I am in the seventh grade, and I have two brothers, Christopher and Peter. My younger brother, Peter (age six), was diagnosed with autism at two years old. Recently, I read three books aimed towards siblings of children with autism to compare them to our family and to see how accurate they were. This is my review of those books.

The first book I read is titled Everybody is Different, by Fiona Bleach. In this guide to understanding autism, Bleach explains what autism is, behaviors that autistic children might have, what siblings of autistic children may experience (and what they can do), and special help that autistic children can get. One question this book mentions is, “Why does my brother or sister make strange noises?” It explains, “Imagine being in a foreign country where everyone speaks a language you do not know. You might try to copy what you think are the right sounds and words without knowing the meaning of them just to join in!” Peter is nonverbal, so he cannot talk. Although he has a Language Acquisition through Motor Planning (LAMP) device (which we call his Talker), he frequently makes funny noises that we have learned to decipher. For instance, when he says, “oooo” or, “ba mmmba”, it may mean he is happy / excited, or wants something. If he says, “aaauaaaaummm” (very high-pitched) it probably means he is
very happy!

The next book I read was Oh, Brother! by Natalie Hale (illustrated by Kate Sternberg). After reading this book, I thought that it was the most similar to our family out of the three. This book is a story about a girl named Rebecca, whose older brother Jonathan has autism. It tells about their (sometimes very funny) experiences as a family. It also explains how you can help your special needs sibling, how to understand (and love) your autistic brother or sister, and how to be a kid and be responsible at the same time. One funny story in this book describes a time when Jonathan is taking a bath, and forgot to turn off the bathtub faucet, and water leaks through into the kitchen where they were eating dinner! My little brother is too little to take baths on his own, but a few times when he was alone upstairs, he went into the bathroom, got into the tub with all his clothes on, and turned the water on! Another chapter in the book talks about a time when Jonathan was alone in his room. He found a baby powder container, and covered the entire room with it! Peter also did this once, except we found out before he could get it everywhere. I can also relate to another part of the book. In one part, it says how if Jonathan gets very quiet, it is a bad sign. It is the same with Peter; he is always running around making lots of noise. If he is quiet, then that is a bad sign and he likely getting into some kind of trouble!

The last book I read was All About My Brother, by Sarah Peralta. This book is about an eight-year-old girl and her seven-year-old autistic brother. This book describes her family and her brother, Evan. It contains many stories (most of them a little funny) about Evan and some of the things he does, like swinging really high, playing with sticks, and eating raw pasta. This book also has a lot of things I can relate to. It describes how Evan loves to swing, play / run around outdoors, swim, take baths, eat crunchy things, and jump around (especially on his bed). Peter loves to do a lot of those things too! This book also has a story where Evan is taking a bath, and leaves the water running until it overflows! Evan makes a lot of funny sounds too, because he is nonverbal, just like Peter. This book shows how Sarah, and all siblings of autistic children, want to help them make sense of the world, have fun, and especially be happy.

I very much enjoyed reading these books, and I recommend them to any siblings or parents of children with autism. I found them all accurate, funny, informative, and extremely affirmative, supportive, and encouraging. They are very beneficial to read and they explain autism very well. 

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