He’s Not Naughty!

He’s Not Naughty!
Deborah Brownson, illustrated by Ben Mason
Jessica Kingsley Publishers

Taryn and Jake are best friends, they’re almost inseparable, similar in lots of ways but also rather different for Jake has autism, and Taryn has taken it upon herself to explain for young readers (as well as teachers and other educators, carers, parents and family) what this means.

It most definitely does not mean, despite some of his behaviour, that he’s naughty. Far from it; rather his sensory processing disorder might result in him feeling explosive inside so that he flaps his hands and screams rather than participating in a supposedly fun activity.

Or, his tactile sensitivity might make him cast off his uncomfortable-feeling clothes or shoes and run around without the offending article(s).

Perhaps he might be so engrossed in his own world that it appears he’s ignoring another person; although there are ways to get around this, as there are ways of coping with other ‘mistakes’. After all, everyone– neuro diverse or not -, learns through their mistakes. For example, many grown-ups expect a child to look directly into their eyes when being spoken to; for children such as Jake, listening to and looking at a person at the same time, asks them to use one sense too many and as a consequence, to listen well he looks down at the floor. This is not being rude (a mistake many unknowing adults make); it’s merely coping with being different.

Taste and how food looks, reactions to strangers, taking things literally, feelings, speech (including communicating with sign language and by means of PECS);

making friends, choosing an appropriate school and routines, as well as famous people who have or may have autism are also covered.

This excellent little book is a real gem, written from first-hand knowledge and from the heart – its author is the mother of two children on the autism spectrum – and ought to be shared in all classrooms and by every family bringing up a child with autism.
Moreover, the artist Ben Mason has Asperger’s and his illustrations too are heart-felt and insightful.