I must start off by saying that [easyazon-link asin=”1934575267″ locale=”us”]In His Shoes, A Short Journey Through Autism[/easyazon-link] is an INCREDIBLE book!!! The author, Joanna L. Keating-Velasco, does such a great job of including all of the many different difficulties that an individual with Autism faces throughout the book.
Every elementary and middle school library should have this book on their shelves. Autism is so prevalent in the world today, that each student will at some point in their lives probably meet an individual with Autism, and it will help them if they are well educated on the topic.
- [easyazon-link asin=”1934575267″ locale=”us”]In His Shoes[/easyazon-link] would be a great book to teach older elementary and middle school-aged students about Autism.
- In addition, it will allow them to understand their Autistic peers better.
- This book would be perfect for teachers to use as a read aloud book for all classrooms, even if there is not a student with Autism in that specific class.
The Main Character
The main character in this book, Nick, is 13 years old and in the seventh grade. He has Autism and is mostly non-verbal. He uses a picture exchange communication book to communicate. Nick has many sensory challenges. One example of a sensory challenge that he faces is that he cannot stand the way red apple peel looks on his plate, therefore he likes his apples to be peeled and cut into pieces, or he likes to eat green apples.
Kris, his babysitter was staying with him, and she made him breakfast, but she did not know that he did not like red apple peel on his apples, so she served him the apples with the red peel on his breakfast plate. The red color of the peel on his plate was so offensive to him, that he could not eat his breakfast. He also has communication challenges, and even though he knew what was wrong with his breakfast and why he was not eating it, he was not able to communicate this with Kris. He got so frustrated that he pushed his breakfast plate on the floor. He was not trying to be naughty, he was simply just trying to communicate that he could not eat his breakfast because of the red apple peel on his plate. He had the words he just could not get them to go out his mouth.
As an individual with ASD, I experience this sometimes too, I have something I want to tell someone, but I am not always able to get the words out and say it. It can be very frustrating at times. The above situation shows how sometimes behavior can be communication for many individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Challenges for those with Autism
Nick is a very literal thinker, he has a hard time understanding idioms, like when a classmate told him that he was all that and a bag of chips. He could not understand what that meant or why someone would say that if they did not have a bag of chips. Understanding idioms is something that is often hard for many individuals on the Autism Spectrum.
This book also does a great job of illustrating inclusion. Nick participates in summer activities at his local community center with his typical peers. Nick attends a public school, but is taught in a special self-contained class for individuals with Autism, but he also participates in elective classes with his typical peers. PAL students or peer assisted learners come into his classroom to play games and do activities with them two days a week. Nick is also a great runner, he can run with great speed, and is included on his middle school track team.
Strengths for those with Autism
In addition to illustrating many of the challenges that individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders face, this book does a great job of also illustrating some of the strengths that Nick has. Nick is really good with numbers, and likes to see numbers get bigger inside his head. Nick was also very good at opening his lock in gym class, he opened his lock so quickly that all of the other students in the locker room were amazed. His peers were asking him for help to open their locks too!
For the most part Nick was accepted by his peers, but there were some students who bullied him and were not very nice to him. Sometimes people talked to him as if he wasn’t even there. This really hurts, and it is important for kids to know this, as maybe they will think about this next time they think about saying something that is not nice or making fun of someone who is different.
Bullying is not tolerated in this book. And this is how it should be! When a new student came to his school and had questions about Nick and his behaviors, one of the other students stood up for Nick, and explained that he had Autism. I wish that this would of been done for me when I attended school, as it would have really helped. Sometimes kids make fun of people because they do not understand them. This is not okay, but this is why we need to make an effort to teach children about differences such as Autism.