Within the past year, an Autism Book Club was started by two former TEACCH therapists. It meets once a month for an hour and half in the back of a popular local bookstore in downtown Asheville, NC. It draws between 9 and 15 participants with a great mix of parents, individuals both on and off the spectrum, professionals, and the occasional interested person who just likes to read and share. The facilitators, with group input, choose books to read each month--either written by autistics or about the autistic experience.
The facilitators use a list of questions to get the discussion going and helpful adaptations are made for autistic participants, depending on who attends.
- Visuals to request time to speak
- Important points highlighted on a chart which is visually accessible
- Type-to-talk devices used when needed
- Ability to attend via Skype
These meetings provide a wonderful opportunity for autistics and neurotypicals to come together around a shared focus. Although a book may serve as the focal point, so much more happens through the dynamics of group discussion. The possibility exists for both the neurotypicals and the autistics to gain greater insight into each others' worlds, as well as their own. Perhaps you'll be inspired to start an autism book club in your area, if it's not already happening.
Books we read recently that you may enjoy:
Songs of a Gorilla Nation by Dawn Prince-Hughes. Incredible story of an evolving self awareness facilitated in part by a great sensitivity and relationship Dawn established with gorillas at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, WA.
With The Light: Raising an Autistic Child by Keiko Tobe. Graphic novel series of a family's struggles in Japan while raising a child on the autism spectrum.