Some interesting reading landed in my inbox yesterday.
First, from America, a news report on autistic kids attending Mass. One in 94 kids in New Jersey sit on the autistm spectrum, which means that every Catholic parish in the state has one or more autistic children in its congregation.
Halfway through a Mass in Caldwell College’s campus chapel earlier this month, Chase Keith rose to his feet for one of the most challenging parts of a challenging day.
It required the Basking Ridge boy to offer his hand to strangers in the traditional sign of peace. With his mother whispering in his ear and guiding his arm, the 7-year-old stuck out his small hand toward a fellow parishioner.
“How you? Peace,” Chase said.
Afterward, his mother slipped him a Goldfish cracker from a plastic bag to reward him for his correct behavior. Chase had gone through months of intensive training with a specialist to get to this point — where he could sit through a Catholic Mass with his family.
And in Australia this week, the mother of a child with Asperger’s is publishing a children’s book on the subject, My friend has Asperger’s.
Robert, 9, has Asperger’s syndrome – a developmental disorder on the autism spectrum that affects how his brain processes information. The condition means he lacks some social skills and finds it hard to read people’s facial expressions. He also has a heightened sense of sight and sound and focuses on particular things obsessively.
Like many unique children, Robert has been teased at school and left out of group activities because children don’t understand him. However, a new book designed to teach children about Asperger’s is starting to turn his world around.
His mother, Letizia Faba, said after the book My friend has Asperger’s was read at Robert’s school, his peers started focusing on his interests and strengths, rather than his weaknesses. The changes have been subtle – for example, one child offered him Pokemon cards because he knew Robert liked them – but for Ms Faba, these actions mark a shift.
Read it all: Children given insight into another world.