Different Like Me: My Book of Autism Heroes

Since we are midway through celebrating Worldwide Autism Awareness Month, I want to focus  on important individuals  within the autism spectrum who have been successful in life.  I discovered Different Like Me: My Book of Autism Heroes, by Jennifer Elder, who has a son with autism.   This book is a chapter book for children, ages 8-12, with illustrations by Marc Thomas.   Quinn, is an eight-year-old boy, who likes baseball, dolphins and Egypt.  And, he has autism.   He’s shy,  doesn’t easily make friends, and feels different from other children.   One day he discovers that when he draws, other kids in his class gather around him.  For Quinn, drawing helps him find his niche at school.

Different Like Me,  is an exceptional book about the lives of  historical and famous figures who are in the autism spectrum that have made tremendous contributions during their lifetimes.  They have worked in the fields of science, mathematics, philosophy, art, medicine, literature,  music and entertainment  — all the time feeling like social outcasts. These people include Albert Einstein, Dian Fossey,  Andy Warhol, Andy Kaufman, Lewis Carroll, Hans Christian Andersen, Julie Bowman Robinson and Temple Grandin among others.   As Elder is quick to point out, tha diagnosis of autism wasn’t made until  the 1940s, by Dr. Kanner and Dr. Asperger, who began thinking about similarities in some of their patients.   She said it wasn’t until the beginning of the 21st century that “we learned more about autism and Asperger’s Syndrome.”

What I like  about this book, is that it really focuses on differences in people.   Elder creates short easy-to-read portraits of the lives of each famous person.   She shares their journey from childhood to adulthood to their achievements.  Each found a way to fit in through a talent as did Quinn.   Each famous person is a role model of what a child can do.  It is a book about what the human spirit can do if given the freedom to fly.   This is a book is a beautiful resource for children with autism, their families, friends and teachers.

I want to mention again, that Friday, April 15, at 2 p.m. EDT, the daily CBS, The Talk, will feature a discussion with inspirational teens who are autistic.   They have done a segment every Friday to promote Worldwide Autism Awareness Month.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

7 thoughts on “Different Like Me: My Book of Autism Heroes

  1. Wow. I had no idea that those incredibly talented and, in fact, genius-level people are now seen to have been somewhere on the autism spectrum. What an eye-opener this book must be — and how very inspiring it would be for kids dealing with autism to have such role models to look up to!

    Thank you once again, Patricia. Excellent post.

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    • Thank you Beth. I wanted to do something that was inspirational and showed what kids can do. So many have wonderful talents, as we saw in the movie Temple Grandin. I just hope this book inspires all kids who feel different and shows them they can succeed with their God-given talents. I truly believe that in God’s eyes we are whole.

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  2. Love the concept of this book, Pat. I have often wondered if someone like Einstein was on the autism scale. The title says it all really; a celebration of uniqueness – each with our own talents. I don’t know the movie Temple Grandin so it is one to add to my list. This sounds also as though it has a really wider appeal, just like Liza Baker was saying on the teleseminar?

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    • The book is a celebration of uniqueness. I had heard that Einstein may have been autistic. The story they tell is that he did not appear to be very smart. He didn’t talk at all until the age of three, and still didn’t speak well until he was nine. The only thing he was good at was playing the violin. He didn’t do well at school and they thought he was hopeless. At age five, he was shown a compass, and he was fascinated about what made the needle move and how did it know which way to point. Questions like these over time, and his love of math, led him to study physics The rest is history. Dian Fossey’s story was quite interesting and I was surprised. She was a very lonely child, who wasn’t allowed to have a a pet. She was awkward around other children and never fit in at school. When she studied zoology, her life changed. A movie was made about Temple Grandin and won Oscars in 2010. Her name is the movie title. She has Asperger’s Syndrome. She hold a PhD in animal science and done more to reduce the suffering for animals. She thinks in “pictures” not in words, so it has helped her identify with the stress animls feel in captivity. I listened to an interview with her and she loves how her brain works and who she is — to be normal would be boring. She really is a role model today, so it was appropriate to make a movie about her. Wanted to share some of the stories, but knew my blog would have been to lengthy. Thanks for your comment, as it let me share some stories.

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  3. Wow, what a motivational TED talk by Temple Grandin, thank you so much. I shall google to find out more, particularly how she has helped to identify the stress animals feel in captivity. I loved the extra details you shared about Einstein and Fossey. This would be a great book for as school library.

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  4. Yes I was thinking along the same lines as Joanna, what a wonderful book to have in a school library. I must check out if it is in my local here. It certainly would be very inspirational for children to read, that there are genuises out there the same as them, and that they can still achieve whatever it is they desire.
    Off topic a bit, I was in the library yesterday and spotted something I am posting today on my blog that may interest you Pat.

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    • Thanks Diane. It was in the back of my mind that it was the perfect book for a school library. I am learning so much about the autism spectrum by focusing on different aspects. Each child is unique showing similar and different degrees of symptoms. I saw your review, and will get to it. Tourette’s Syndrome also falls in the autism spectrum disorder — and I never knew that. So, I am happy you selected that book to review. Glad to see you supportting Autism Awareness Month. 🙂

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