by Mary Jessica Hammes
April 11, 2012
April is National Autism Awareness Month. This year it is foreshadowed by a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that autism spectrum disorder (ASD) now affects 1 in 88 U.S. children—a 78 percent increase since 2002.
Despite widespread research, the cause(s) of ASD is unclear, making efforts to inform parents about early signs and symptoms challenging. Authors Julia Cook and Dr. Laura Jana (illustrations by Allison Valentine) take a novel approach with their picture book, Amazing Me—It’s Busy Being 3!
Amazing Me can be downloaded online for free as part of the CDC’s “Learn the Signs. Act Early” campaign, designed to teach parents about child development and early warning signs of autism and other developmental disorders.
Amazing Me features Joey the kangaroo demonstrating developmental milestones appropriate for 3-year-olds. These include social/emotional skills (taking turns in games), language/communication skills (following instructions with two or three steps), cognitive skills (playing make believe), and movement/physical skills (climbing and running). A milestone checklist appears at the end of the book. Parents can also find tips for spotting delays, talking to doctors, and getting referrals on the CDC website.
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