Written and illustrated by Melanie Walsh
This book goes through a really accurate and easy-to-understand explanation of many of the results of asperger’s (note: now it is not technically labeled as aspergers, but is called autism spectrum disorder (ASD) since it falls under that umbrella and isn’t as strictly distinct as people thought before). We read about the things that make Isaac different from the other kids because of his autism, and it’s all framed within the idea that he’s a superhero. This makes it really positive which is fantastic, but children tend to take things very literally so it could be helpful to explain right off the bat that this book is about a boy who isn’t actually a superhero, but whose brain works differently than lots of other kids because he has something called autism, instead of waiting until the very end to understand that. If you do that, your child will be able to understand the book better instead of getting confused thinking that they’re reading about the child Iron Man or something. Throughout the book, we see why Isaac does some more unusual things or reacts in a certain way to common situations, which is really helpful so that children don’t just observe that different behavior, but can understand why those behaviors are helpful because of how they makes him feel.
During the reading:
- As I said in the review, I would start the book by explaining that Isaac has autism and giving a simple explanation of what that is.
- This book provides so many opportunities to talk about different emotions and to help your child relate to Isaac through their explanations. Consider pausing on a lot of those pages to ask your child how they think he feels, if they’ve felt the same way doing the activity Isaac is, etc. Basically aim to help them to see how they’re similar to Isaac, and how the ways that they’re different is totally fine! The more children feel similar to other people, the more likely they are to reach out to them in proactive and positive ways.
- If your child does have autism, emphasize the ways in which they’re similar to Isaac, and have them tell you experiences of similar situations they’ve been in to him. This reflection will be really positive for them and can help you to better understand their experience as they have new prompts to recount their experiences with. Take advantage of how upbeat this book is to show them how they can view their autism in a superhero way! It’s important for children (and all people) to feel loved for all parts of them and not to be loved despite some attributes. So as your child recounts their experiences to you you’ll be able to express your love for your child as a whole person.
- If your child doesn’t have autism but knows somebody who does (maybe a classmate or family member), bring them up throughout the story to help your child draw connections between them and the extremely likeable and relatable Isaac. That way you’ll be helping them to specifically build empathy for that child.
- At the end of the book, you can talk about the last sentence saying that Isaac’s brother understands him, “and now you do too!” Make sure and ask them if they have any questions about autism, and help them to see how it’s not a scary and confusing topic, but something they can understand.
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Have you tried any of these ideas? Comment below to share how they worked for your family!