It's one of my favorite times of day. The room is dark, and Billy's still warm and snuggly from sleep.

Me: Time to wake up, big guy. Time to get ready for camp.

He rubs the sleep out of his eyes and whispers to me.

Billy: Mama, how do you feel?

Me: I feel like I love you.

Billy smiles.

Billy: That makes me feel thankful.

My heart bursts and I hug him deeply.

Me: I'm thankful too. I'm thankful for you.

Billy: I am not frustrated.

Me: That's good.

Billy: I am not very shy.

Me: Truer words have never been spoken.



The illustration for "Proud."

Billy and Willow love the book, The Way I Feel, written and illustrated by Janan Cain. Both kids have started using words to identify their feelings, a major goal for us this year. A book can't teach these ideas all by itself, but as a visual reinforcement of conversations about these vague concepts of emotions, I think it can be very helpful, particularly to preschoolers and/or those kids with developmental delays. The illustrations in The Way I Feel are engaging and colorful, and the little rhymes do a great job of capturing the essence of feelings such as “jealous,” “shy,” “silly,” “frustrated” or “excited.” I recommend it, if your kids are working on these concepts.

FYI, I bought this book with my own hard-earned cash, and all opinions contained herein are my own, un-sponsored objective perspective. However, had anyone offered to pay me for it, I would have happily taken their money.


Reader Comments

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I think I'll go look for this book as this is the 3rd time it's title has come up this week. We are still working on identifying feelings and the subtle gradations of...
I hope you are well Amanda. It was good to see your name on a list somewhere today so I popped on by to say hello!

Teacher gave it to me

My son's teacher gave us this book as well and he loved it till it fell apart. I think it was very useful in teaching him about feelings, which we are still working on.

Snippets 'N Stuff

Good to know. I'll pass this information on to the teachers I work with.

Yeah, I'd happily take money too!

Too bad nobody is offering!


Very sweet!

Total 5 comments

A typical problem for families of autistic children is isolation. We can start to form a cocoon around our child and ourselves to protect against both real


and imagined physical and emotional dangers. We can lose touch with friends and the community around us as we shuttle our child to and from therapy and school and back home again. In our efforts to protect our child, we can succeed in cutting him off entirely from the real world.

Lisa Jo Rudy's new book, Get Out, Explore and Have Fun!, is an antidote to autism isolation and a great tool to help parents engage with their autistic child in a variety of real-world settings. The mother of a 13-year-old autistic son (as well as a neurotypical daughter), she gives practical advice on choosing and enjoying community activities and settings.

Rudy makes the case that not only can you visit the museum, participate in sports with your child, enroll your child in piano lessons, etc., but you should. A life in which your child does little more than work on his deficits in a variety of artificial supported settings (like therapy), Rudy contends, is hardly a life at all, for your child or you.

Beginning by helping parents pinpoint their child's individual passions, Rudy moves on to hand-hold parents of autistic kids through the process of selecting community settings; trying out various sports; participating in youth groups (like 4-H or Scouts); visiting museums, zoos and aquariums; attending performing arts events; engaging with your faith community, and much more.

In each chapter, Rudy introduces a variety of options – such as, in the Sports chapter, the various kinds of sports a family might try – as well as tips, issues to consider, and questions to ask both yourself and the organizer. Inspiring “success stories” are also included, illustrating the blossoming effect that a passionate pursuit can have on an autistic child.

Articulate yet conversational in style, Rudy rejects the idea that a family with an autistic child can't be joyful, energetic, involved and fun-loving. Get Out, Explore and Have Fun shows how parents of autistic kids can expect more from their child and their lives.


Ready more about Lisa Rudy and her new book at

Reader Comments

community outings

I haven't seen this book, but love the concept. There are many many days when I just don't wanna, but you've gotta gotta gotta make yourself do it. And the majority of the time it works out better than we think...and if not, it's still pretty survivable.

Total 1 comments

One of a parent's biggest fears for their child with special needs is how other children will react to him. Will he have friends? Will he be bullied? Will he spend a lot of time alone? How do you pave the way for him to create strong bonds with his peers?

Since We're Friends, a children's book by Celeste Shally, beautifully illustrated by David Harrington, is a lovely way to do just that. An unnamed child has a friend named Matt; Matt is autistic and sometimes reacts differently to situations that arise on the playground. Matt's friend helps him understand instructions during games and distracts him when he gets upset. They share many common interests; Matt talks a lot about animals, but his friend doesn't mind because he likes animals too.

We donated a copy of this book to Billy's pre-K class where we're happy to report he has quite a few friends. Ages 3 to 5, his classmates vary widely in their development. We were delighted that he would be in an inclusion class, half of which is normally developing children. Some of the older girls are particularly sweet to Billy, holding his hand during line-up, engaging him on the playground and generally watching out for him. When he started preschool last summer, Billy's social interactions amounted to, at best, "parallel play," playing with toys alongside other kids without really interacting with him. In less than a year, he has started seeking out other kids to play chase, hold hands or share a ball.

As positive an experience as this has been for Billy, I think it's good for normally developing kids to have the experience of interacting with peers of varying abilities as well. Learning patience, compassion and seeing first-hand that someone who is different can still be a fun and beloved friend -- well, I think those lessons are at least as important as reciting the alphabet and counting to 20.

As parents of special needs kids, we often debate how much to talk about our child's challenges. We fear stigma, expect judgment, and desperately want to protect our children. Dave and I went through this same debate, not wanting other parents or kids to assume things about Billy that aren't true: that he's weird or violent or any number of other myths about autism that are widely prevalent. Ultimately, though, we decided the best defense was a good offense, and that we would err on the side of too much information, rather than too little.

The only way to dispel myths is with hearty dose of reality. Books like Since We're Friends are a good place to start.

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