Woodbury resident Elizabeth Verdick recently wrote a book about autism aimed at the children who deal with its affects each day.
She has been writing books since 1997, the year her daughter was born. Verdick now has two children, one of whom has autism.
Patch asked Verdick about The Survival Guide for Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Patch: What is the book about?
Verdick: This book is about helping children on the autism spectrum (including those with Asperger's Syndrome) discover why they're different. Readers learn that they have some special skills and gifts, as well as some special needs. A diagnosis of ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) can be daunting at first. This book aims to help kids face their challenges and meet them as best they can. Kids can read the book with their parents because autism affects the whole family. Parents and kids both learn to be greater advocates.
Patch: How did you come up with the idea for this book?
Verdick: When my son was a toddler, he received a diagnosis of ASD and I knew that someday I wanted to write a book for him and other kids like him. But the time had to be right. I've been a book author and editor for many years, but this particular book is very special to my heart. Over the years, I've learned a lot about autism, Asperger's, social skills, communication challenges, improving behavior, and celebrating differences. I have great respect for kids on the spectrum, the families who are raising them, and the teachers who are working hard to help their students succeed. Sharing what I've learned has been a gift for me.
Patch: What do you hope kids and parents get out of reading it?
Verdick: I hope that they see themselves in this book and come away with a sense of "We can do it!" There are stories of real kids in the book, as well as lots of tips and advice for kids who want to do better at home, with friends, and in school. My goal was to write a book that could help kids at a variety of ages and stages. I would like them to be able to return to the book again and again over the years, as new changes and challenges come about.
Patch: Can you tell us about your family's experiences with autism?
Verdick: We are really proud of our son, who just started fifth grade this year. He is smart, funny, unique, and full of surprises. I admire how far he's come! It hasn't always been easy, though. He needed lots of early intervention in the form of therapies designed to help him communicate and socialize. But he's doing well, and we're grateful for that. I wrote this book to help him learn about his own diagnosis and to give him further help—advice and ideas he can read on his own.
Patch: What's next for you as an author?
Verdick: Another new book of mine just came out: Bystander Power, which is for ages 8-13 (like my Autism Survival Guide). Bystanders is about empowering kids who witness bullying to handle the situation safely and successfully. I'm excited to also be working on some board books for the youngest audience of all: babies!
Patch: Anything else you'd like to add?
Verdick: There's a famous quote that I think is just wonderful: "If you've met one person with autism, you've met one person with autism." Kids, teens, and adults who have ASD are much more than a diagnosis or a "label." They're individuals with diverse abilities, challenges, and ways of experiencing the world. We need to see them as the individuals they are. Don't assume that all people with autism are a certain way. Get to know them and learn more about their lives.