All the work we have done, all the tricks I have learned to do my job so that my student can function as 'normally' as possible in a general education setting have not gotten me into his head quite like the book I just finished reading.
It's simple, heartwrenching, and from the point of view of a girl with Asperger's. (If you didn't know, Asperger's is on the Autism spectrum.) She shares similar traits with my student. For instance, abstract concepts are more difficult for them both to understand. They both have odd behaviors not acceptable in public. While their behaviors are odd to us, they clearly come from a need inside them that we can't even begin to associate and draw parallels to triggers in their lives or environment. They both have unique skills that they excel at.
In MOCKINGBIRD, Caitlin thinks the world revolves around her. She learns about empathy, manners, finesse, and closure; all very difficult things for an autistic child to grasp. Reading this book brought clairvoyance and understanding of the way my student's mind is wired. Things are literal. The world is a place of only his feelings. Sometimes it's more than too just loud, too colorful, too stimulating, and the only release is to return to the comfortable places that make sense.
Katheryn Erskine paints a vivid picture of grief, the stresses of childhood, and the ways society behaves towards special needs. Every character is believable. We all can relate to the feeling of needing something and not knowing how to get it. Advice abounds, but like many times in the book, we just don't 'Get It', so we can't follow any of the advice.
This book is a quick read, but don't let that fool you. Your heart will go out to Caitlin and you'll see others in a different light after experiencing this story.
Yes, I said experience.
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