Rules by Cynthia Lord.
Scholastic Press: NY, 2006.
Newbery Honor 2007

How do you have a normal life when your younger brother is autistic and family life revolves around him? Catherine specifically wants a chance to make friends without David's interference. She's taught him rules she thinks are important to minimize embarrassing moments, but he only seems to remember the rules afterwards.

This summer Catherine hopes to have a new next-door-neighbor friend, but out in the world her embarrassment rules her behavior. She does become friends with another boy with special needs. She enjoys Jason's friendship so much that she recognizes the value of it. However, when there is a chance that the friends from other worlds might meet, she tries to keep both apart to avoid dealing with her fear of embarrassment.

Cynthia Lord has done an excellent job of balancing life surrounding an autistic child. Behavior does cause problems for the rest of the family, and tempers can get short, but there is much more to the story. Despite the growing incidence of autism, most people see just blips of behavior in public. This is a book for understanding what the families are dealing with, but also that kids with special needs are in some ways very normal and have rich lives and relationships, too.

There is a bit of humor and warmth in the story as well as tension. Most of the tension comes from Catherine-not David or Jason. I read the book mostly because my 9 year old son highly recommended it. It took some time to get into it, but by the end I wasn't ready for it to be over.

related-autism, brothers and sisters, people with disabilities, paraplegics, friendship

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