How to understand Asperger's syndrome in children

A new children’s book tells the story of how a child with Asperger’s syndrome experiences everyday life.

Noah’s Story gives children with the condition a tool to help explain their condition, symptoms and feelings.

Bullaburra resident Grace Kim wrote the book to help her son Noah Hylkema, his friends and teachers understand his Asperger’s diagnosis in 2016 after a long period of challenging experiences at school. Noah illustrated the book.

Written in Noah’s ‘voice’, it uses examples of behaviours a person whose brain works differently and offers practical suggestions for how others can respond to those with high functioning autism.

Ms Kim wrote the book after Noah’s diagnosis after she and husband Teije Hylkema had read numerous books and attended workshops and seminars about autism to understand the condition and find a way to disclose the information to Noah and his classmates. 

“After reading a mountain of books, I still couldn’t find a book that resonated with us personally,” she said.

“One desperate night, I decided to write a story from Noah’s perspective to help him, his friends and teachers understand.

“I showed it to Noah to check with him if I represented his feelings correctly (thankfully, yes!) and asked if he would like to do some drawings for it to take it to school the next day.

Hazelbrook Public School student Noah, 9, has written stories and illustrated since he was four. He said the book was a way to explain Asperger’s to his classmates in a format they would understand.

“I have a brain that’s a bit different to yours – I find some things easy that other people find hard (like computer coding and haiku poems) and some things hard that other people find easy (like handwriting).”

Author Teena Raffa-Mulligan said the book “presents the message ‘Sometimes I will make mistakes but I am learning just like you’ with beautiful simplicity’’.

Noah’s Story ($37.80) is available for $26.99 at https://bit.ly/2xOpl7K. The free Noah’s Story book launch will be held at Bullaburra Village Green (wet weather option Bullaburra Progress Hall), Noble St, from 10.30am to 12.30pm, Sunday, December 16. Signed copies will be available and there will be live music, reading and a playground for children. RSVP: https://www.facebook.com/events/265681834065809/?active_tab=about.