A Manual for Marco: Living, Learning, and Laughing With an Autistic Sibling by Shaila Abdullah

Posted in Autism/Aspergers, Reviews, Special Needs Children by - January 30, 2015
A Manual for Marco: Living, Learning, and Laughing With an Autistic Sibling by Shaila Abdullah

February 1st, 2015 is the release date for a beautiful children’s book, A Manual for Marco: Living, Learning, and Laughing With an Autistic Sibling by Shaila Abdullah. This is the third children’s book for Ms. Abdullah who also does many of the clever, vibrant, colorful illustrations. A Manual for Marco is about sibling relationships when dealing with autism. It is a genuine, caring story in the words of an eight-year-old girl about growing up with an older, autistic brother.

To understand Marco, her older brother with autism, his sister says you really have to live with him. The next best thing for young children to learn about autism is to read Shaila Abdullah’s delightful picture book. Through the words of an 8 year old, this genuine, caring story will allow you to know how Marco is more often special than not-so-special.

Families and classrooms reading circles will enjoy reading this book that shows clearly the positive and negative traits of autism and his sister’s genuine affection. The entertaining story supported by the author’s detailed illustrations will keep the interest of the children.

A Manual for Marco is from the Growing With Love Series by Loving Healing Press. Placed in the juvenile fiction category, the target audience is kids aged 6-8. It is excellent for siblings, classmates, and friends of autistic children so they can understand and accept their friends with autism with their unique character.

Marco’s younger sister shares what it is like having a sibling with autism. Her love for him even shines through the negative things this 8 year old describes he does. She feels they are a good team and their family would not be complete without him. The sister decides to make a list of all the things she likes and dislikes about dealing with her autistic brother, and in doing so realizes that she has created “A Manual for Marco”.

Raising a child with autism? Can you relate to some of these autistic sibling’s characteristics?

  • He is a math genius.
  • Marco likes predictability.
  • Counting calms him down.
  • He taught himself to read at the age of four.
  • He hides things.
  • He writes gibberish on the walls.
  • Enjoys locking bathroom doors.
  • Has a fantastic memory.
  • Has a special diet.
  • Has no sense of danger.
  • He can’t handle change.

Special Needs Book Review Highly Recommends

A Manual for Marco

Great Resource to Understand An Autistic Sibling or Friend

A Manual for Marco: Living, Learning, and Laughing With an Autistic Sibling by Shaila Abdullah is an excellent picture book. Readers will appreciate the endnotes that provide additional tips and information about interacting with those on the autism spectrum. We highly recommend this book written with sensitivity and beautifully illustrated.

Excerpts from  A Manual for Marco

You also can’t leave any crayons lying around. If you do, there’s a good chance that you’ll find all sorts of gibberish on walls. That’s pretty odd because Marco taught himself how to read at the age of four.

Marco also enjoys locking bathroom doors. All of them! Mom and I walk around with little keys to open them. I keep mine wrapped in my hair band for easy reach.

There’s no use being mad at Marco. Each morning he wakes up a blank book.

I am afraid of losing any more stuff and I think Mom finally realized that. For my birthday, she gave me a glittering purple and yellow treasure box with lock and key to store my special things.

Although, I worry where the box will end up one of these days.


It’s hard for him to show it, but Marco loves me in his own way. The other day when I fell off the chair, Marco came around quickly and helped me up. He doesn’t smile much, but he gave me a big hug on my birthday. When I cry, he gets upset so I try not to fuss in front of him.

Come to think of it, I would not have half as many adventures if it weren’t for Marco.

At times, Marco has no sense of danger. For instance, when he finds a knife, he tries to slice vegetables and yes, even crayons. Sometimes he gets too close to the stove when Mom is cooking. He also tries to run off when he sees an open door or when we are in a crowded area.

The last few Marco adventures keep Mom up at nights. Translation: not-so-special.

Shaila Abdullah is an award-winning Pakistani-American author, writer, and designer. About the Author:

Shaila Abdullah  is an award-winning author and designer based in Austin, Texas. She has written four other books: Saffron DreamsBeyond the Cayenne Wall, for adults and  My Friend Suhana, and Rani in Search of a Rainbow for children. Along with illustrations by the author, A Manual for Marco also includes artwork by IMAN TEJPAR, a 12-year-old artist from Canada.

Abdullah has received many awards for her work including the Patras Bukhari Award for English Language, the Golden Quill Award, and the Norumbega Jury Prize for Outstanding Fiction. Several academic institutions have adopted her books as course study or recommended reading.My Friend Suhana by Shaila Abdullah and Aanyah Abdullah

  • My Friend Suhana, coauthored with Abdullah’s daughter Aanyah discusses cerebral palsy and uncommon friendships.
  • Rani in Search of a Rainbow discusses the 2010 Pakistan floods and provides a tool for children to make sense of natural disasters.

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Buy Books by Shaila Abdullah:

  • A Manual for Marco: Living, Learning, and Laughing With an Autistic Sibling  Amazon.com Amazon.ca
  • Rani in Search of a Rainbow: A Natural Disaster Survival Tale  – November 1, 2014  Amazon.com  Amazon.ca 

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.