Today, not only are 1 in 68 children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, they are also bullied four times as much as their neurotypical peers.
By each of us doing our part to raise autism awareness, we can work together to tackle the amount of bullying that children with ASD are subjected to. This is exactly what mother-daughter team Judy Cohen and Mindee Pinto hope to accomplish with their new book, Mikey.
“They get early intervention, then they are placed in public schools. We have decreased our resources to help teachers understand how these children work,” explains Ms. Cohen, the mother-half of the duo, in an interview with AM Northwest News. They are bright, they have incredible strengths, and we need to build on that so that they can be happy and successful in our school systems.”
The title character Mikey is a child on the spectrum who has made the transition to a mainstream, public classroom. Though he is intelligent, it is obvious he is different from the others. Authors Cohen and Pinto want to show that it’s alright if Mikey is different from the other kids, and that real kids in our classrooms understand and accept their peers who think and learn differently.
Mikey was also written to educate teachers who have students with autism. A child with sensory processing issues may have an aversion to the sticky texture of clay when creating art projects, or they may be extremely irritated by overhead LED lighting. If their sensory issues are not accomodated, says Cohen, behavioral meltdowns are the result, and that’s not fair to anyone.
Three main traits of autism are outlined in a simple format for readers- social difficulties, communication difficulties, and sensory processing disorders.
The bottom line of the book, according to Ms. Pinto? The authors want Mikey (and other children with autism) to be happy, and to make plenty of friends.