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Morty the Meerkat Has Autism Review by Sheila QuachJ.I. Avis
Child Heroes Publishing
I will admit I had never heard of Autism before until I watched a character on a popular show act the same exact way my little kiddo was acting at the time. We had been struggling in silence for nearly four years, thinking it was just us. I remember thinking in my head as I sat out in the Pediatrician’s waiting room that I must be crazy to make an appointment based off a tv show. But, I did, and I was right, my boy had a diagnosis and my eyes were opened to a whole new world. A crowded, yet lonely world. Autism is so prevalent, yet the average person knows nothing about it. Not to mention young children who may encounter a child on the Spectrum at school or the park, only to be scared or confused by their behavior. I will admit my son can be found on a playground making bark angels and never look or speak to a soul out at the park, if I can even get him out to the park.
You know I often wish that I could educate everyone we meet, but given the circumstance that’s not always possible. And how do you break Autism down to a level that even a young child could get some sense of what it’s all about? Luckily several weeks ago I was able to review a children’s book written by J.L. Avis, called Morty the Meerkat has Autism. I was surprised, hopeful and could not wait to read it with my 10-year-old Son Kaden.
After reading this book a handful of times I have to say the overall thoughts are all positive. The story begins kind of like most ASD discoveries. Morty’s parents noticed some differences in him compared to his siblings. Differences like he didn’t want to be hugged, touched or wouldn’t look at others when they talked to him. Morty’s siblings and friends noticed his behavior and had questions regarding the reason behind his actions. You can easily see how frustrating it can be when you are trying to communicate with an Autistic person who does not know how to communicate back to you. I appreciated the broad spectrum of behaviors shared throughout the book, because each child with Autism is so different. Morty’s family took him to the Dr. and he had a typical assessment. The Dr. talked to the family, Morty and then watched Morty interact and play. After he gave his parents the diagnosis of him having Autism he explained it to them very simply. Afterwards the family came up with a game plan along with his teachers to make a sensory space at school. They also had a speaker come to the school to talk about Autism and answer the other meerkat’s questions. They were finally able to understand why Morty did some of the things he did, which made both Morty and the other little meerkats happy.
I thought this was a terrific way to put some positive light on Autism and share what it’s like to be on the Spectrum. To show others, especially children that it’s ok to be different, if you have Autism hold your head up and be proud of your strengths and not to just focus on your weaknesses. This book would be excellent to have when you are trying to explain Autism to friends and family, your child's friends and classmates and even to the diagnosed child himself. I know when we talked with Kaden about his Autism diagnosis he was confused, upset, and embarrassed. This sweet story could help normalize the child's differences and build a sense of peace with the diagnosis. And of course, I think awareness through this book in the school system, day cares, libraries and even church groups would be fantastic. If you are looking for a way to build a bridge between a child with Autism and their community this book is a great start. I look forward to passing it along in our circle of friends and family.
-Product review by Sheila Quach, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January, 2018