While our 2017 One Book, One Philadelphia selection is often speculated to be a book about Autism Spectrum Disorder or Asperger’s Syndrome (something we've discussed in a previous #OneBookWednesday blog entry), this year’s middle-grade companion book Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World by Sy Montgomery also offers some insight. The book explores the life of Ms.Grandin, who was diagnosed with autism at a young age. Instead of being institutionalized, like her doctor recommended, she went to school and is currently a scientist and professor of animal science. A person can accomplish anything once they set their mind to it, no matter the circumstances!
Disabilities cover a wide range of symptoms and circumstances. Some are obvious, like a child with a physical disability who uses a wheelchair or a child with a visual impairment who uses a cane to navigate when walking. Other disabilities are more concealed, like a child with a learning disability or a child with autism.
More than likely, our children have had interactions with other children with special needs, whether at school, the library, the park, or even the grocery store. They may have questions about someone who looks or sounds different than they do, and that’s okay. It is human nature to be curious about things that are different.
Basic Ideas to Share:
- No two people are the same; some differences are more noticeable than others.
- Everyone wants friends, but some people cannot communicate verbally like we are used to.
- Some people are born with disabilities, while others become disabled following an accident or illness. Regardless, a disability does not define that person.
- Children with disabilities can do many things other children can do, it just may take them a little longer. They may need assistance or equipment to help them.
- Focus on what the children might have in common. They may both enjoy coloring, listening to music, or watching a certain television show.
Some great picture books from the Free Library that can help teach about children with special needs include:
Some great chapter books that feature children with disabilities include:
These books, and many others that your local librarian can recommend, can serve as a way to spark a conversation with your child. Children are sponges. Remember to watch your terminology and not use outdated or inappropriate words. If you are not sure of an answer, offer to help your child find the answer using books or the internet. And of course, never tolerate jokes or bullying, as children with disabilities are easier targets. All people deserve to be treated with respect and individuals with a disability are no different.
**Check back every #OneBookWednesday during the Reading Period for some more One Book food-for-thought!**