A few weeks ago, I was in our speech therapist's waiting room hanging out with my favorite waiting-room mom, Gina. Her son, Clayton, reminds me intensely of Harry, only he's a year older and is doing so well that you'd easily mistake him for a typically developing child who's just really, really into Star Wars, slightly disorganized, and a little on the quiet side.
They're moving to the 'burbs in a few weeks, and I've been mining Gina for parting advice ever since I found out. Last week I told her about my blog and she said, "You know what book really worked for Clayton?"
I whipped out a pen to take notes.
"'Say Please, Little Bear' by Peter Bentley," she said, spelling the author's last name for me. "Clay loved it to pieces. It's about this cute little bear whose father teaches him how to take turns, be polite, and help people. Basically, it's a social story about good manners."
"It taught Clay manners?"
"Well, yeah. We read it over and over and over again and the examples were perfectly modeled on how people actually talk and situations that actually arise, so there were all these opportunities to script from the book, which was still technically scripting, but totally functional, you know? And then people thought it was so adorable when he was saying 'please' and 'thank you' so they gave him all this social praise, and that reinforced the script until it actually was functional!"
"Yeah, I know. The right book is worth a million bucks for kids on the spectrum."
I walked away from that conversation determined to ask all my friends with kids on the spectrum the same question: If you could recommend one book for another parent that really worked for your child when they were preschool aged (2-4 years old), what would you suggest?
So last week I hit up my autism parent friends, and here's my shiny new shopping list!
1. Say Please, Little Bear by Peter Bentley, Robert McPhillips (Illustrations)
Gina, mom of Clayton (age 4), says:
Basically, it's a social story about good manners. ...[It's] perfectly modeled on how people actually talk and situations that actually arise, so there were all these opportunities to script from the book... [P]eople thought it was so adorable when he was saying 'please' and 'thank you' so they gave him all this social praise, and that reinforced the script until it actually was functional!
2. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr., John Archambault, Lois Ehlret (Illustrations)
Sharon, mom of Adam (age 10), says:
My son loved "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" when he was that age. There was something about the rhyming and the sequence of the alphabet that he seemed to enjoy hearing over and over.
3. Freight Train by Donald Crews
Liz, mom of C. (age 7), says:
Because trains. But also because it's very calming. And very straightforward. It taught him all the rainbow colors. The only colors he couldn't identify his first year of preschool were brown and white. They aren't in the book. He learned [those] quickly, though. :)
4. The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen, Dan Hanna (Illustrations)
Daniela, mom of Nikola (age 5), says:
It rhymes and is easy to follow. It mentions almost all sea creatures (which is a usual point of interest of that age), and talks about how it's OK to be different from what others expect you to be, and in spite of challenging (bullying?) from many other sea creatures, the Pout-Pout Fish is able to gain confidence and feel that he is loving and worthy. I also like how the Pout-Pout Fish speaks for himself and tells everyone off about how he can't change the way he is. :)
5. Curious George Visits the Zoo and the rest of the "Curious George" series by Margret Rey and H. A. Rey
Andy, dad of Max and Caleb (twins, age 4), says: They love to see all the different places that Curious George goes--the zoo, a ski trip, even a chocolate factory! It is a lot of fun places and of course George always gets in tons of trouble. They think it's very funny.
6. I Stink! by Kate McMullan, Jim McMullan (Illustrations)
Katie, mom of James (age 5): It's super funny and gross. Also, it was good for fostering pretend play with a toy trash truck.
7. Brown Rabbit's Shape Book by Alan Baker
V.A., mom of S. (age 5), says: S. loves shapes and this book not only talks about different shapes, but you can also incorporate blowing up balloons and letting them "whoosh" away, which children love. It has been a great book for playdates as well.
What books worked for your child? Let us know in the comments!