Uniquely Wired – A Story About Autism – Book Review – Here’s a great new book to help kids understand autism and some of the behaviors associated with it!
When my son was diagnosed with autism as a toddler, people didn’t talk about autism much at all. In fact, it was ME who brought him into his pediatrician, with my checklist of symptoms in hand, looking for answers. That was only a little more than a decade ago, and I think awareness and education has come such a long way. I’ve had coaches and other parents and even little kids ask me if Pablo is “on the spectrum” when they witness some of his repetitive behaviors or vocal tics, which to me, is just AWESOME! So much better than getting side-eye and loud whispers about how he’s a weird kid or I’m a crappy parent. I always love to have a conversation with someone who is legitimately curious about autism, especially if it means they might have even more patience and understanding in the future.
Back in those days, I would very occasionally come across a book about autism, but it was pretty rare. I always jumped on any book I found, and would always try to find something relatable within the story so I could share it with Pablo’s sisters and classmates. Uniquely Wired: A Story About Autism and Its Gifts is the book I needed ten years ago. This brand new story from Julia Cook, a teacher and school counselor, encourages patience and understanding, while explaining the WHY behind some of the unusual behaviors often seen in kids with autism. While reading it, I remembered doing a presentation in Pablo’s classroom when he was in 2nd grade. I had the kids write down their questions beforehand, and a lot of the questions the kids had were things like, “Why do you look away when I talk to you?” and “Where did you learn to make that bird sound?” And my favorite, “Do your parents ever get any sleep?” Here is a fantastic answer for the eye contact question!
I also found myself nodding wildly in agreement over one of the first passages in the book, “My memory is amazing…when it comes to things I am interested in.” SO, so true. The boy in this story, Zak, has an obsession with watches – he owns 379 of them, and can tell you every detail about how them. This was Pablo with fire alarms a few years ago – and to this day, he’s probably one of the only people out there with a framed Simplex Truealert Speaker Strobe alarm watercolor painting hanging in his bedroom. Like the boy in the story, Pablo has moved on from one obsession to another – currently he is super into electric guitars, which I have to admit, I’d rather hear blaring from his room than commercial grade fire alarms!
Back to the story! Zak goes on to explain the reasons behind lots of special things – super sensitivity to sounds and smells, hand flapping, social blunders…and with every explanation, Zak’s teachers and parents include reasons why these weird behaviors are OKAY. “Since Zak likes to borrow words from others, he helps all of us become more mindful of what we say. Thank you, Zak, for sharing your gifts and making us laugh!” This is the best thing we can teach our kids – ALL our kids – it is OKAY to be different. That’s what I told Pablo’s classmates when he was little – the best way you can help Pablo is to be a friend to him and to make our school a place where it is okay to be different. And Uniquely Wired includes tips for understanding kids with autism – here are a few…
This book would be such an asset for every classroom and school library! The copy I received is going straight to my sweet daughter Kayley, who teaches preschool and goes out of her way to find books like this that promote inclusivity and acceptance. If you’d like to get your hands on a copy, check it out right here on Amazon. (Affiliate link.) If your kids are out of the age group this is intended for, consider picking up a copy or two to donate to a local elementary school, daycare, or Sunday school class.
Special thanks to Smith Publicity for providing this book to me for review and to share with my daughter’s classroom! This post contains affiliate links.