Rules — Autism Awareness Month

 In wrapping up Worldwide Autism Awareness Month, I wanted to end my children’s book reviews with Rules, by Cynthia Lord.   This is a chapter book for children in grades 4-7, published by Scholastic Press.  The author won the Newberry Honor and the Schneider Family Book Awards in 2009.   Lord, is the mother of two children, one of whom has autism.  She is also a former teacher and behavioral specialist.

The book cover says it all, “No toys in the fish tank!”   It is one of many rules, that 12-year-old, Catherine has made up to help her autistic brother, David, understand his  world.  There are others too:  Flush!   A boy can’t  take off his pants in public.  This is Catherine’s room.  David must knock!  It’s okay to hug Mom, but not the clerk at the video store.  Don’t chew your food with your mouth open.

Rules, is a very convincing story about the challenges for siblings living with a brother/sister with autism.  For Catherine, it’s about wanting to live a normal life, which is not possible when life revolves around David.  Catherine is an endearing character, struggling with her own identity and wanting to have friends.  She has all the normal feelings of resentment, anger, embarrassment, frustration and jealousy that siblings share.   A diagnosis of autism is very hard on siblings.

Yet for  Catherine, it becomes a fine balancing act.   She loves and fiercely protects her brother, but she also has wants and dreams for herself.    A lot for a 12-year-old girl to handle, as she is attempting to come into her own.  The  rules begin to blur for Catherine as she becomes involved in other friendships.  You begin to wonder who she has really written the rules for — David or herself.   In the end, what is important to Catherine is that everyone is different in their own way.  And, that is okay.

This book is an inspirational read for siblings and their parents, and an exceptional  discussion book for  teachers and students.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

9 thoughts on “Rules — Autism Awareness Month

  1. Pat,

    what a wonderful array of books and information you have brought to us this month. I have learnt much. I so often feel for other siblings dealing with a brother or sister who is a little different. It frequently requires a level of maturity beyonf their years and inevitably the creation of coping mechanisms. Your synopsis already has me empathizing and liking Catherine in “Rules”. I like the way you have offered us books with perspectives of different members of the family in autism month – each with their own set of challenges. This was a great series with which to establish your blog.


    • I learned the most, I think. Glad I focused on Autism week as it allowed me to provide a vareity of perspectives, which required a lot of research and reading, but was great fun. Rules, was a quick read and had an element of humor. Found myself a bit bothered by how Lord protrayed the parents — mother was a stay-at-home mother, but conducted her business from an office in her home. She sat behind closed doors dealing with clients. Dad was a busy pharmacist. So much responsibility was placed on Catherine, even with adults around. I felt for Catherine. Didn’t want to spoil the book, but there is a reationship Catherine made at the clinic with a boy who couldn’t communicate. It is an important part of the story. Thanks for your comment.


    • Thank you for the Rutger’s article. It was a very inspiring story. There are many negative stories in the news about fraternities, so it was nice to see philanthropy a major focus. The student who launched the B.U.D. program for kids with autism, is a very compassionate and forward thinking young man. There are so many young people doing great things.


  2. Like Joanna, Pat, I congratulate you on a very interesting series of books this month that has certainly taught us a great deal, about compassion, difficulties, understanding, accepting, and living with autism. You have taught me not only about Autism but how good research improves the quality of writing, (as our other Hub members have) and I thankyou. Rounding up this series with “Rules” is fitting, and your compassion shows, so that we are drawn to Catherine and how she deals with life and her brother. Beautiful!


    • Thank you for your compliments Diane. As, I mentioned to Diane, I learned more than anyone. And the research and reading was fun. I really enjoyed “Rules” as it had an element of humor to it. Catherine was a remarkable character, with issues that most siblings face. Think it forces them to grow up so fast because in Catherine’s case, she did a lot of caring for David, even while her mother worked in her home office. And, it interferred with Catherine’s life. But, it was a well -written book and and one all siblings should read.


  3. Pat – I think it was meant for our blogs to meet. While touring around on your blog this section on Autism caught my attention. I have a nephew with Autism and I can’t wait to share the books about Autism shown on your blog, with his parents. He is only 4, he was diagnosed early. They are remarkable with him and he is making quite a bit of progress. Thank you for sharing all that you do!


    • Maeve – I’m so glad you found the books on Autism/Asperger’s Syndrome, which are now falling under what they are calling the Autism Spectrum. I’m so glad your nephew was diagnosed early, as there is so much that can be done. “Rules” is excellent. You may have missed my first post last April, where I reviewed a series of books called “Off We Go for a Haircut, the Grocery, the Dentist…etc.” which are perfect for his age. The author, Avril Webster wrote the books for her son. Each book is 12 pages, with a sentence and picture of each step of a new experience — especially if there are bright lights. a lot of people and unfamiliar noises. It helps with meltdowns. Her website is wonderful. I also reviewed two YA novels (series) by Beverly Brenna in Sept., “Wild Orchid” and “Waiting for No One.” They are about an 18-year-old girl transitioning into adulthood, and it raises a lot of societal questions. And, I’ve reviewed an excellent middle grade novel for the end of this month. Hope you liked the video of Carly’s story. — Pat


  4. Pingback: Half a Chance by Cynthia Lord | Children's Books Heal

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