Shedding Light On Autism

Today I'm celebrating Autism Awareness Day with Mrs. Parker (who shared this adorable graphic) and other educators worldwide who show compassion and sensitivity for the successes and struggles of students on the spectrum.

My favorite book that sheds light on autism is Looking After Louis by Lesley Ely.  This resource elegantly tackles the tale of a boy on the spectrum (it's more common in boys) whose daily interactions differ significantly from the other children in his class. The book's main character has sort of adopted Louis. Louis doesn't always act like or engage with his classmates. But that doesn't matter to his new friend, the narrator. She has accepted him as he is, she recognizes his virtues, and she encourages him to draw on those strengths. She looks after him. But how will she feel when one day he has a breakthrough and gets extra recess with someone else?

When I read this story aloud to my students, they inevitably ask, "Is Louis real?" which leads so beautifully into a discussion about respecting differences, acceptance, and empathy. How would it feel to be Louis?  The narrator?  The teacher?  The other children?  His parents or siblings?  And what would you need if you were those people?  What does it mean that fair doesn't always mean equal?  Was it "fair" that Louis got extra recess?  If not, to whom didn't it seem fair? Why?  

Understanding and feeling empathy can be a struggle for students on the spectrum, but it's certainly a gift that we can give to them. 
Here are some lyrics I wrote to a song called 
It's Empathy  that you can sing with your students as work to understand, appreciate, and empathize with students on the spectrum. It's sung to the tune of A Rum Sum Sum.

It's empathy, it's empathy. 
When you put yourself in place of me, it's empathy.
It's empathy, it's empathy.
When I understand your feelings, it's called empathy.
I like it, I like it. 
When you put yourself in my shoes and feel empathy.
You'll like it, you'll like it.
When I put myself in your shoes and feel empathy!


  1. Thank you Barbara for linking up! This book looks really great. I can't wait to get my hands on it!

  2. Great post on such an important book. My linky contribution is Top 10 Books That Teach Kids Compassion…sion-ages-2-14/


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