Autism & children's literature

Jeff Katz


Nate still loves kids’ books. Whenever we go to the library or book store, he heads straight for the children’s section. Picture it: a 21 1/2-year-old behemoth, sitting on the floor with legs crossed, or stretched out on his stomach, checking out ABC books, or Dr. Seuss. It probably creeps some people out, though no one has ever mentioned it to me. It looks funny.

Children’s Literature was a good course for him. The books were right up his alley, though he needed some help and prompting doing analyses. For Caldecott-winning illustrated books, like A Tree is Nice, he would sit at the dining room table, read it quickly and then, out loud, tell me what the moral of the story was.

There was a project to do, and Nate chose to write some poems. He did add to the choices handout, with pen scribblings like, “Bring any dead story-teller back to life so he’s a zombie who might attack your city!” Or, “bring the author back to life if he’s dead!” Surely Nate realizes that the undead sell these days.

Nate has always written quality poems. I’ll give you one, that he simplistically titled “My Limerick.”

I like candy of all kind

Especially new types that I find.

M & M’s and Hershey Bars

Even Milky Ways made by Mars.

Candy is always on my mind!

He got full credit for that, but I’m not sure in what world limericks have that kind of syllable structure. By my count he’s got 7-9-7-8-7. Maybe it’s just titled “My Limerick” but isn’t one.

Nate also noted, in a brief paragraph about his reading history, that he liked when we read to him in his youth because reading was hard. It still is and, if you recall, I read Johnny Tremain with him last semester. His comprehension is still weak, but it gets better each day.

Today we had a friend over looking through Nate’s art and, inconsistently, Nate answered questions about his process in selecting materials, perspective and subject matter. He complained a lot about the incessant asking, but I learned much. Nate’s drawings may lead to something cool in the future, and it’s nice to watch him listen, digest and respond cohesively. Sometimes. Other times he kicked me. He’s the classic quirky, eccentric, temperamental artist!

Courtesy of Mission of Complex


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