The Bottom Line
- Fun illustrations, even for slightly older kids
- Offers practical ideas for supporting friendships
- Provides realistic scenarios
- Makes a good read-aloud book for classrooms
- Could easily be overwhelming for typical peers
- May or may not reflect an actual child with autism
- Useful only for younger children in specific settings
- Picture book about friendship and autism
- Published by Awaken Specialty Press
- Forward by Alison Singer of Autism Speaks
- Full color illustrations
Guide Review - Book Review: SInce We're Friends, An Autism Picture Book
Like any book in this genre, it suffers from a few unavoidable drawbacks. First, by selecting and describing an individual boy with specific issues, it leaves out a huge swathe of the autism spectrum. This boy, for example, is able to engage on his own with typical peers -- with just a little help from a friend. Plenty of children with autism simply can't. It also suggests that children with autism, as a group, actively want to take part in group activities, which may or may not be true.
More significantly, the book presents the typical narrator as being the autistic child's "best friend." As a result, he winds up managing situations for his buddy at every turn. Whether he's "going along to get along" as his friend perseverates on animals, changing the game so that his friends can have fun with other peers, or reassuring his friend when situations change, the narrator is always taking charge and acting on behalf of his friend. This expectation has the potential to be quite overwhelming, particularly for children who are, themselves, at the margins of social groups.
While this book has the potential to be a useful tool, it's important for adults to point out that not every child with autism is like the child in this book and that it's OK to decide not to intervene on behalf of a special needs child in every circumstance.