Siblings and Autism: Stories Spanning Generations and Cultures ISBN: 9781849058315
Cumberland, Debra L. and Mills, Bruce E.
Published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2010
This is actually a book intended for adults - not a children's book at all. But I am including it because here, in sixteen essays, we have the essence of how it feels to be a member of a family with an autistic child. Most of the authors are older, and their remembrances of their siblings are during the 50s, 60s and 70s when autism was difficult to diagnose. Families were expected to cope on their own, and, furthermore, Bruno Bettelheim had put forth the theory that autistic children were the result of cold and unloving mothers; this book proves definitively that this was not the case. Children were often institutionalized at an early age, and it is apparent from these essays that a great deal of guilt and grief was the result. The pain in the writing is palpable, and sometimes anger too at parents who put the autistic child before his or her siblings. Pride comes into it too when the autistic brother of sister is recognised as lovable and talented in his or her own unusual way. All the emotions are here, every emotion that a sibling of an autistic child will readily identify with. And while giving an 11 or 12 year old the whole book to read would be counter-productive, there is no reason that sections from it could not be used between parent and child or in a therapy session. The writing for the most part is superb, even lyrical. Two of the essays are academic in nature and would not be useful with our age group, and certainly the style of all of them is sophisticated. Moving and true-to-life, the essays are troubling and yearning, full of fear and also hope, and in many cases, full of love and understanding too. A book for the whole family. Available from Amazon, from bookshops, or from the publisher at www.jkp.com.
Age: 11+