I am sometimes sent books for possible review but find it difficult to fit it all in. Luckily, I know some parents who are very good at reading and reviewing books, so I pass suitable ones on and they may review them for us.**
I have discovered a gem in my neighbour, Nicky-G. The parent of a teenage chap with ASD, Nicky knows what makes a useful book and has again kindly reviewed some I popped over to her. You can see her previous previous reviews here.
This time she has reviewed three books from Jessica Kingsley Publishers:
- Jasper and the Magpie by Dan Mayfield
- I’ll Tell You Why… I Can’t Wear Those Clothes by Noreen O’Sullivan
- The Green Zone Conversation Book by Joel Shaul
Illustrated by Alex Merry
Jasper and the Magpie from Jessica Kingsley Publishers is a book with bright and attractive pictures that will appeal to the younger audience. It tells a story that shows it is okay to be different and acceptance is what is important.
I found some of the rhymes a bit contrived to make words fit into the poem but children will enjoy the ideas, and the illustrations bring the words to life. Although it may seem to be aimed at a younger age group, it can be used by older children and words like alloys and iron oxide in the text may be something they can hook into. Various themes are covered that will be familiar to ASD children and their parents, such as the child getting into trouble for doing something they like, that they consider harmless and the parental angst that Jasper will be the, ‘Boy who’s weird or people hate’.
The pages where the text mentions Jasper trying ‘to put himself in others’ shoes, or into someone else’s head resonated particularly with me.
Using the magpie works well as they are known collectors of shiny things and quite cheeky birds. They are not always given a good press and are unfairly maligned simply for doing what comes naturally to them. The book is a gentle introduction for children that it is okay to be themselves.
Buy from our affiliate link at Amazon Jasper and the Magpie: Enjoying Special Interests Together
I'll Tell you Why I Can't Wear Those Clothes is a book tackles the issue of children who find that wearing certain items of clothing or indeed, any clothing, can make them feel some overwhelming emotions.
I liked the fact there was space to write the child’s own interpretation of their feelings in relation to the subject on the opposite page. Because it uses photographs of real children I think readers might be more receptive to the message.
Children, both neurotypical and those with a diagnosis of whatever kind, can all experience the feeling of clothing that distracts them and makes them feel uncomfortable at some point in their childhoods. This book gives them a way to realise that it is okay to feel these emotions and ways to try and express what they do like.
For parents, it enables them to gain some understanding of their child’s apparent irrational feelings. I have a number of friends whose children dislike labels or the inside seams in socks and this book can help establish ways to comfort their child and also make them realise that this is not something that needs to be a big problem.
When dealt with sympathetically, children will often find their own solutions to sensory issues and feel comforted simply by being understood. It is a very simple book with an effective message that would be a good place to start if your child is having difficulties of this kind.
SNJ Amazon.co.uk link: I'll tell you why I can't wear those clothes: Talking about tactile defensiveness
The aim of The Green Zone Conversation Book by Joel Shaul is to enable children on the autistic spectrum to find ways to engage in conversation that are of interest to all parties involved, not just the autistic person.
As the parent of a child with Asperger's, we use the phrase monologuing frequently in our house. Our son has seen the film ‘Mr Incredible’ and understands that this means he needs to stop talking to an audience that has no interest in his dialogue. It can be very difficult to have conversations when an ASD child continues to interject with their topic of interest despite the fact the topic has moved on several times or, as is often the case, the topic was never introduced in the first place!
We often joke that our son talks ‘at’ you and not ‘to’ you and he wouldn’t notice if you fell asleep from boredom because he is so enthusiastic about his subject – Minecraft, volcanoes, Lego, tornadoes etc – that he cannot see why it would fail to interest others.
Having read the book, it is a very simple and effective way of introducing an ASD child to the art of appropriate conversation. There are worksheets and a section aimed at helping adults to use the book effectively with their child. It can also be used to show other, non ASD children better ways of communicating as monopolising conversations is not solely the domain of ASD children…or indeed solely the domain of children either, as some adults can be equally as challenging!
Our Amazon.co.uk link: The Green Zone Conversation Book: Finding Common Ground in Conversation for Children on the Autism S: Written by Joel Shaul, 2014 Edition, Publisher: Jessica Kingsley Publishers [Hardcover]
(Note, this appears to be out of stock on the JKP site itself but there are limited copies on Amazon UK)
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Nicky is a member of her local Parent Carer Forum in Surrey.
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