I recently encountered a series of books called The Adventures of SuperCaptainBraveMan. While I haven’t read the first book, I was sent a copy of the second book called A Spectrum of Love.
The premise of the series is that there is young boy named Kyle who has a rare condition that limits his mobility. But when he dreams at night, he becomes SuperCaptainBraveMan and is able to do all the things that he wants to do.
In this book, Kyle and his mom visit a new family in the neighbourhood. The family includes a boy named Nicolas. Nicolas has autism.
There is always a danger when including a character with autism of falling into stereotypes. However, no matter how you portray a character with autism, someone will see a stereotype.
Jennifer Norman does a great job of including a character with autism who seems real. As an autism dad, I can recognize Nicolas in my children. Both my children with autism are non verbal, my daughter arranges toys and our son avoids eye contact.
However, the best part of the book is the explanation of autism by Kyle’s mom. She gives the basic definition of autism (in kid-friendly language) but makes sure to emphasize the diversity within autism. Perhaps the most important thing for autism parents is that people understand that autism is a spectrum. Jennifer Norman makes it very clear, “no two people with autism are alike.”
I won’t give away the ending of the book but as SuperCaptainBraveMan, Kyle connects with Nicolas. This leads to a very moving conclusion.
Jennifer Norman understands what it is like to be a special needs parent. In real life Jennifer really is the mom of Kyle. She is able to promote awareness in a way that doesn’t feel forced.
This book is a valuable resource for helping children to understand autism. I wish we had this book when our three children without autism were trying to figure out why their brother and sister were different.