This appealing picture book written in simple language suitable for young children is narrated by Alex, who describes his many ‘superhero powers’ (later on in the story Alex admits that he’s not really a superhero, but has Asperger’s which means his brain works a little differently). Alex describes himself, what things he likes to do and what he finds challenging, in the hope that the reader will have a better understanding of Asperger’s Syndrome.
Explains Asperger's syndrome in a simple, gentle and positive way to very young children.
This lovely book gives a good balanced view of a child living with Asperger’s: Alex is very positive about his ‘fantastic brain’ which can remember loads of facts and notice small details, but he also finds social interaction challenging and is shown in one of the illustrations looking very distressed as he is very sensitive to noise. Melanie Walsh’s illustrations are very appealing, helping to make this book one that a young child might pick for themselves from a library or bookshop, rather than being coerced into it by a well-meaning adult!
The messages we found in this book:
- Children living with Asperger’s Syndrome can behave differently to children who are not. This behaviour can sometimes be misinterpreted as ‘naughtiness’ or unfriendliness by others.
- It can be upsetting and frustrating for a child with Asperger’s to have to cope with characteristics of the syndrome, such as being hyper-sensitive to noise.
- Children with Asperger’s can find social situations a challenge. Alex makes personal remarks about people’s appearance and forgets to say hello, but he’s not being intentionally rude.
- Asperger’s is a kind of autism
- You can’t catch Asperger’s
- It is possible to form friendships with children with Asperger’s. Learning a little about what the child finds challenging will help.
- Alex finds eye contact quite frightening. His dad suggests he looks at people’s foreheads instead.
- Alex finds comfort talking to his pets and feels that they always listen.
- Alex’s teacher lets him use a fidget toy in class to help him stay calm and attentive.
- Children with Asperger’s often struggle to understand metaphors (someone tells Isaac if he eats too much his tummy will go pop; he takes this literally)
Although Alex finds certain aspects of his condition challenging, he is positive about his ‘superhero powers’. He loves playing with his brother, who ‘understands him’. Alex hopes the reader understands him too by the end of the book.
The book covers many typical aspects of Asperger’s Syndrome, but it’s worth bearing in mind that all children with Asperger’s are different and will not display exactly the same characteristics. There are some links to useful resources in the back of the book.
- Draw a picture of your friends as super heroes. What ‘super powers’ do they have?
- On the back cover of the book there is a great illustration of Alex’s super brain showing all the things he likes to think about. What would there be in your brain drawing?
- Do you know a child with Asperger’s Syndrome? What ‘super powers’ do they have, and what do they find challenging?