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.