Books are like mirrors in which children see characters that look like themselves, and have feelings and experiences similar to their own.
Children with disabilities see themselves through the characters and are encouraged by the character’s strength and successes.
Shirts with no tags, pants without buttons and sneakers with no laces are just a few of the adjustments we make at home to help ease some of the sensory challenges my son faces. Picky, Picky Pete is a about a boy with sensory processing disorder and a story that my family can relate to. Pete and my son share a lot of the same sensory challenges, and I certainly share the same frustrations that Pete’s mom has with trying to accomplish the goal of getting ready for the day. It’s important to see characters that have similar experiences – it helps to develop communication and understanding as we cope with disability.
Books are also like windows through which children can view and learn about those who may look, talk or act differently from themselves.
Siblings, peers and playmates become more understanding and appreciative of others’ differences.
In A Friend Like Simon, when Matthew meets his new classmate Simon, he realizes that Simon is a little different from his other friends. He’s not sure if he wants “a friend like Simon”. Many children find it difficult to understand and cope with a peer that is somewhat different than them. There were many times I watched kids stare at my son on the playground when all I wished was for them to go over and ask him to play. Books like these are a great way to introduce children to and help them understand a child with a disability.
We want all children to have positive understandings of disability and what better way to teach them than with a good book.