According to a recent US government study, a growing number of children in America are being diagnosed with some form of Autism Spectrum Disorder. The study estimates that the autism rate in the country has reached a new high of 1 in every 45 children. In this scenario, it is imperative to take into account the special needs of autistic children while designing any educational resource. Since books are an important educational tool, it is necessary to design and create them such that they cater to the needs of every child, including the child with special needs.
Books on Autism
The need of the hour is to spread awareness about autism and to sensitize everyone to the needs of children on the autism spectrum. Books on autism can be a positive and practical introduction to autism for the lay public and especially for school-going children. These books can act as catalysts for productive discussions on differences and help children learn about the spirit of inclusion. If their peers are able to accept and interact with autistic children, the welcoming atmosphere will certainly help in their social mainstreaming.
A book like My Friend Sam, published by The National Autistic Society, can be used to familiarize young children with difficulties that their autistic peers may face. The book uses simple words and vivid illustrations to narrate the story of introducing a child with autism to school. Similar books, with easily written content and well-sketched illustrations, can be used during storytelling and circle time to make children comfortable with their autistic peers.
Books for Autistic Children
Books are a wonderful resource to use with children on the autism spectrum. Books with colorful illustrations that inform and explain the written content are especially useful as an educational tool. The illustrations provide the reader with visual support and help to clarify the written content and move the narrative forward. For the very young child with autism, picture books help make the association between the words and the objects.
Books, specifically illustrated books, can be used to teach social skills to children with Autism and other special needs. Children with autism spectrum disorder often struggle with social interactions and they need to be taught appropriate behavior in different social situations. One of the most popular ways to do this is through social stories. Through customized content and relevant illustrations, books can be used to help autistic children to address and understand difficult concepts like transition, anger management and acceptable social behavior. These narratives can be used to help the child to identify with the characters in the stories and to relate to the challenges they face. This, in turn, can help prepare the child to deal successfully with similar challenges.
Books are Knowledge and knowledge is the power that can arm autistic children with strategies and information needed to make a difference in their lives.