Autism Is…? Books – New Storybook Series for Children with Autism by Ymkje Wideman

Autism Is…? Books – New Storybook Series for Children with Autism by Ymkje Wideman

We thank Ymkje Wideman-van der Laan  for contacting Special Needs Book Review to tell us her story and introducing us to her Autism Is…? books.  She wrote that as a grandmother and caregiver of a 7 year old grandson she wrote these books to share what she had learned with others going through similar experiences.  She hopes her books will provide helpful information, encouragement, and show they are not alone in their parenting journey.

What experiences is Ymkje Wideman talking about? Read her informative guest post to find out. We appreciated the great photos and excerpts that the author sent us. We look forward to other books in this series of picture books for children with autism.

Guest Post: Autism Is…? Books

 New Storybook Series for Children with Autism

by Ymkje Wideman-van der Laan

Why I wrote the Autism Is…? books

My life took an unexpected turn when early October 2006, I received an urgent call to come and help my youngest son with the care of my darling little grandson. Through the help of family and friends, I was able to make the trans-Atlantic trip within a week. I soon found myself fully absorbed in taking care of him 24/7, and working through a myriad of legal, logistic, and financial issues.

From early on it was clear that my grandson was extremely active and had boundless energy. When a family member saw him bounce across the living room floor in a “stationary” ExerSaucer at one-year of age, she commented that he reminded her of her now teenaged son, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, at that age. I had never heard the term before, and brushed it off, as surely, he was just a typically active and healthy baby.

As my grandson grew, we started noticing some other behaviors that seemed a bit different from “normal.” He would excitedly hop up and down in front of the TV while flapping his hands, for example, and walk across the floor on his tiptoes. He was also very slow with starting to speak. On the other hand, he proved to be very bright. He could identify word-flashcards by pointing after being told a word only once.

When my grandson started attending a private pre-school at two years of age for several mornings a week, I soon received reports that he was crying a lot, and not behaving as the other two-year olds in his group. They encouraged us to have him evaluated, which we did shortly before his third Birthday.

We were relieved to hear that even though there were some developmental delays, he did not need or qualify for special services. However, problems in pre-school persisted.

We moved to another State shortly afterwards. While enrolling my grandson for Head Start, I requested a class with an experienced teacher, who would be patient and understanding of  him. I passed on his previous evaluation to the school counselor, and explained what had happened in the private preschool. This wonderful woman could not have been more sympathetic and assured me they were going to do their very best for him—and so they did!

She also suggested retesting right away, as they suspected he had autism. He started daily special classes along with weekly speech and occupational therapy immediately, while remaining in his mainstream classroom with his wonderful and patient teacher for the rest of the time.

Before the school year ended, when my grandson was just a little over four years old, we received the test results. My grandson had high-functioning autism, Sensory Processing Disorder, and borderline ADHD. While this came as no surprise, it was now official.

I started reading everything I could find about autism, subscribed to blogs and websites, and worked closely with my grandson’s special education teachers and therapists to find solutions to every-day problematic behaviors. We created Logan’s “tool box” together, which included fidget toys, First-Then charts, visual schedules, key ring rules, short social stories, and more. Through working with him intensively at home and at school, we soon saw marked improvements.

Autism Is…? Books – New Storybook Series for Children with Autism by Ymkje Wideman

I never dreamed that my initial three-month visit to lend a hand with my grandson’s care would lead to what I now call my autism journey.—A journey fraught with battles and victories, trials and triumphs. It awakened a passion in me I didn’t know existed. It daily moves me to try new things and dares me to do something different and out-of-the-box to keep making progress. The books I wrote for my grandson were one of these things.

Some of the professionals who saw the stories and poems I wrote and used to teach my grandson, encouraged me to publish them, so other parents and caregivers could benefit from them, too. I truly hope that my books can be an encouragement to parents and caregivers, and helpful to their children on the spectrum.

Besides the three books already published in the Autism Is…? series, two more are in the works. I hope to publish Feelings Are…? and Manners Are…? by the end of this year.

INTRODUCING Three Autism Is…? Books

Autism Is…? Books – A New Storybook Series for Children with Autism By Ymkje Wideman-van der Laan

Autism Is…?

ISBN-10: 1475102712 

Illustrated by Rob Feldman

Paperback, 24 pages, full color – Release date: April 6, 2012

Logan overhears his grandma tell her friend he has autism and he asks her, “Autism is…?” She explains it to him in this beautifully illustrated story.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a disability that affects an estimated 1 out of 88 children (1 in 54 boys and 1 in 252 girls) in the US alone. It is a spectrum disorder because its impact on development can range from mild to severe. The areas of development most affected are social interaction and communication skills, difficulties with verbal and non-verbal communication, and leisure play.

Someone wisely said, “If you have met one person with autism, you have met one person with autism.” The characteristics are different with each unique individual, and so are the ways to interact, teach, and care for them.

You may or may not wish to explain the term autism to your child at a young age, but if you do, I hope this book can help make it easier for you, as it did for me when explaining autism to Logan. His inquisitive mind wanted to know, and once he read this story, even before it was illustrated, he was satisfied with the answer.

Excerpt from Autism Is…?
Your brain works in a different way
From friends’ at school, but that’s okay.

All kids are different, that’s a fact,
And this is just the way YOU act.

So now you know, nothing’s amiss,
Because that’s just what autism is.

Danger Is…? New Storybook Series for Children with Autism by Ymkje Wideman

Danger Is…?

ISBN-10: 1479250082 

Illustrated by Jennifer Lackgren

Paperback, 26 pages, full color – Release date: December 15, 2012

Logan runs to a busy street and nearly has an accident! Once safely back inside, his grandma talks about the meaning of danger and teaches him ten important danger rules.

Children with autism often lack a sense of danger, and it can be difficult to teach them safety rules. My grandson was no exception. After a few near accidents, I was desperate to get through to him that running into the street, putting his hand onto a hot stove, and unbuckling his seat belt while driving, could result in serious injury.

Danger is…? struck a chord with him, and after reading the story with him repeatedly, he started referring to it when I was cooking in the kitchen, while out in the car, or when crossing a busy road. To my delight, he stopped without prodding at the curb one day, and quoted Danger Rule # 7.

I also created a Danger Rules key ring for him. Visually and verbally reviewing the Danger Rules on his key ring regularly, and especially before going out, reinforced them even more, and is helping to keep him safe.

I hope this book can contribute to keeping other children with autism safe also.

Excerpt from Danger Is…?
“Danger means you could get hurt,
Or even killed if not alert.
To stay safe and sound,” she told me then,
“There are some rules. Let’s start with TEN.”

I’m glad that Grandma took time to explain,
The meaning of danger, and how to remain
Safe at all times by keeping each rule,
At home, when out, as well as at school.

School Rules Are...? New Storybook Series for Children with Autism by Ymkje Wideman

School Rules Are…?

ISBN 10: 1481947117

Illustrated by Jennifer Lackgren

Paperback, 28 pages, full color. Includes two bonus, easy-to-make visual tool in the back of the book to support the school rules – Release date: March 15, 2013

Logan fails to finish his tasks at school, so he has a lot of homework to do. After his grandma reads his daily report, she teaches him some important school rules to help him do better.

Keeping to and focusing on a task, staying seated, and transitioning from one activity or place to another while in school can be challenging for children with autism. It certainly was for my grandson when he started attending school.School Rules Are...? New Storybook Series for Children with Autism byYmkje Wideman

We were very fortunate to receive expert help from Ron Gibson, MA CAS, the lead school psychologist and chairperson of the Autism Problem Solving Team for Harnett County Schools, N.C. He and his team developed some basic school rules for children with autism, and his teachers introduced these rules to my grandson’s class.  To help reinforce the rules he was learning at school, I wrote, School Rules Are…?

I also made some simple illustrated visual supports to go along with each rule. My grandson, and the other children in his class, soon caught on, and Good Eyes, Good Ears, Good Hands, Good Feet, Good Voice, Good Friends, became household words. (The author has made visuals of these six easy-to-remember phrases and they are found in the back of the book.  These can be made into key ring cards and task strips when laminated. The cards or strips make great visuals and serve as a quick reference guide at home and at school to children with autism.)

Verbally and visually reminding my grandson of the rules regularly and consistently, both at home and in the classroom, made a big difference and helped make his time at school successful and productive. I hope School Rules Are…?, with its bold and bright illustrations, can help do the same for other children with autism.

Excerpt from “School Rules Are…?School Rules Are...? New Storybook Series for Children with Autism byYmkje Wideman
My grandma said it’s not so smart
When school rules I don’t take to heart.
Schools have rules for a very good reason:
They help kids learn and progress each season.

We sat down together with paper and pen,
And Grandma wrote down these school rules then.
I am going to learn them, and practice them, too,
‘Cause Grandma says that’s the right thing to do.

For more information, please visit my websites and www.autism-com.

Ymkje Wideman-van der Laan author of Autism Is...? booksAbout the Author

Ymkje Wideman-van der Laan is a writer, editor, and proofreader. In 2006, she assumed the care of her 6-month old grandson, Logan. There were signs of Autism at an early age, and the diagnosis became official in 2009. She has been his advocate, and passionate about promoting Autism awareness ever since. Logan is the inspiration behind “Autism is…?” and other books she wrote for him. You can contact her and find out more about her and her books at  and  Facebook  Twitter @YmkjeWideman.

Read our interview with Ymkje Wideman.

About the IllustratorsRob Feldman illustrator of  New Storybook Series for Children with Autism by Ymkje Wideman

Rob Feldman is an Australian cartoonist and illustrator, and member of the Australian Cartoonists Association and Australian Society of Authors. He has had his work published in newspapers and magazines in Australia and Asia. Rob was captivated from the start by Autism Is…?, and enjoyed collaborating with the author on the first book in the series. Rob is also working on a series of other children’s books on a range of topics, including The Sock Pirates and The Very Silly Quiz Book.

Jennifer Lackgren illustrator of New Storybook Series for Children with Autism by Ymkje WidemanJennifer Lackgren, a professional musician and freelance illustrator, lives in Bangkok, Thailand.  She grew up in a family of artistic and creative people, who inspired her own creative talents.  Jennifer is a self-taught artist. She illustrated The House on the Hill by Colin C. Bell, and The Water, a short story by an unknown author.  When she heard that Rob Feldman would no longer be available to illustrate the Autism Is…? children’s books, she agreed to collaborate with the author, using Rob’s original characters to provide continuity to the series. Her bright and cheery illustrations will undoubtedly delight a waiting readership.


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This post was written by Lorna
Lorna d’Entremont: Co-owner of SentioLife Solutions, Ltd. the company behind KidCompanions Chewelry (2007) and SentioCHEWS (2013), mother of three, grandma of 5 and wife. She is a retired teacher and special needs advocate. Throughout she has taught all levels from grade 2 to grade 9. Lorna loved teaching and enjoyed seeing the students progress in the school system. During her 30 year career she took a few years off to raise her three children.