Since We’re Friends: An Autism Picture Book addresses autism spectrum disorder in children, giving a truthful yet tender view of what it’s like to have a friend with autism. The book also demonstrates the struggles with acceptance that kids with autism frequently face.
Matt suffers from autism spectrum disorder or ASD, and because of this, he acts different than most normal functioning kids. But Matt is a friend to his neighbor across the street, who is the narrator of Since We’re Friends, who tells how he and Matt play basketball, go swimming and play on the jungle gym like other kids. But how Matt responds to situations is different from other children and seen as strange to many. Children with autism can be in a constant state of anxiety because they are overwhelmed or overstimulated by things like loud noises at a basketball game – things that don’t normally adversely affect normal functioning children.
The narrator explains that since he is Matt’s friend, he helps him in these situations, by being supportive and helping to distract Matt so he doesn’t get too upset. The book also discusses the importance of routine is to those with ASD, and when an autistic child’s routine is change, his or her behavior can be misinterpreted as bad behavior or a tantrum.
Since We’re Friends also addresses behaviors such as getting overly excited which can lead to hand flapping, or other characteristics that others classify as odd. It addresses bullying and being treated like an outcast by children that don’t understand the way autism children speak differently, or why they may not speak at all.
Since We’re Friends is an excellent book for teaching both children and adults to understand how and why autistic children are different, and why those differences should be respected and not labeled as “weird” or bad behavior. School Library Journal describes the book’s message as “not to be ignored” and the Autism Science Foundation lauds the book as a “major step in building a more compassionate community for all our children.”
April is Autism Awareness Month . As kids with autism can have a tough time making friends due to behaviors and characteristics normal functioning children categorize as odd or weird, this book is an excellent choice for educating the children in your life that autism is something to be understood, rather than feared.
For activities to help in explaining autism to children, take an Autism 101 course online or check out these Books for Kids, Parents, and Teachers.
Since We’re Friends: An Autism Picture Book
Author: Celeste Shelly; Illustrator: David Harrington
CalicoKidz.com reviews books that celebrate diversity and culturally educate young children ages 1-10. Its mission is to celebrate children’s books that educate to promote diversity, and to give educators, librarians, and parents access to books that promote cultural, religious, racial diversity as well as those with special needs. Our vision is that one day we will live in a world of acceptance of all.