I wonder what happened to Autistic kids before of the level of awareness we have obtained today. Reflecting on my days in school I recall classmates who were different. I don’t remember instances of bullying, although it is possible, but I do have images of isolation. I wish I could say that I made an extra ordinary effort to reach out, but that would not be true.

I have a child with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). As early as his toddler years, there was a feeling that something was off normal. We didn’t imagine that he would be on the spectrum – he could read at 4! His vocabulary was advanced and we were just thrilled with this, ignoring other signs.

However, his teachers quickly shared with us that he was having difficulty socializing and that he was obsessed with routine and specific classroom items. After a battery of tests with a child psychologist, the diagnoses was Asperger’s Syndrome.

The CDC reports that as of 2018, 1 in 44, 2.3% of kids had a diagnosis of ASD.

It is my goal to champion awareness of this misunderstood condition and help cultivate an environment where we help these exceptional people with their gaps so we can all benefit from their participation in society.

Crow Boy

Author and Illustrator Taro Yashima

Published in 1956, Crow Boy chronicles the early life of a boy named Chibi in rural pre-war Japan. his peculiar behavioral traits draw ridicule from his classmates and he appears to be both defenseless and, typically, not inclined to defend himself.

As autism was not recognized and documented clinically until the early 20th century it is not likely that Taro Yashima was aware of the condition classified as such and, we see no mention of this in the book. Instead, without benefit of an interview (he died in 1994), he likely is relaying an eyewitness account or at least a telling of a first-hand story. The details of the acts are very specific.

It is touching that the attention and kindness of a teacher are what brings him out of his seclusion. A sage educator who recognizes that his pupil needs special attention and makes the additional effort. The converse would have been more likely. I would like the think this happened to the author or someone close and was the source of his inspiration.

The story is loosely, yet beautifully illustrated with bright colors and non-descript facial features that engage the imagination of the reader.

A Caldecott Honor recipient,  Crow Boy is a timeless classic.

Benji, The Bad Day, And Me

Written by Sally J Pa, Illustrated by Ken Min

A sibling on the spectrum can be difficult. Parental resources of time and attention can leave children feeling neglected and resentful. When circumstances bring simmering tensions to a head, the narrator has a emotional break. The bond of brotherhood is seen to transcend the walls of the disorder.

The illustrations are rendered in a common flat style but are appealing to the eye and the torque of the bodies is evident.