"Thank you, driver, for getting me here (Too much Magic Bus)
You'll be an inspector, have no fear (Too much Magic Bus)
I don't want to cause no fuss (Too much Magic Bus)
But can I buy your Magic Bus? (Too much Magic Bus)" -- The Who
This is an excellent book replete with illustrations, not unlike the Gray's "Social Stories" concept. This illustrated story about two children whose father has Asperger's Syndrome is ideal for older children up to middle school. It is also ideal for families and educators.
The illustrations are excellent. What makes this book even more effective is that the authors had themselves drawn into the story and provided comments about autistic behavior and explaining to readers why Sophie, 9 and Daniel, 12 cope with the behaviors of their father.
Mark, the father of the two children featured in this book fits the classic profile of an adult with Asperger's. His special interest is busses and he meticulously and methodically lines his model busses up and makes sure they are clean. He insists that Sophie and Mark keep their rooms neat at all times and his idea of fun is going to bus themed events. When the kids were younger, they went along, not realizing just how "different" their father was.
This became apparent by the time Sophie was 9 and her parents attended Parents' Night at her school. Mark acted a fool by berating Sophie's teacher for starting late, without realizing that some flexibility had to be allowed for another parent whose time ran over. He criticized Sophie's work and chided her for mispelling a word. His wife tries to calm him down and later passes out a leaflet about Asperger's Syndrome. Mark also gets tense and has meltdowns at family gatherings when many people are talking at the same time and when unexpected topics come up. He does not like surprises.
Mark has a tendency to talk ad infinitum about busses, down to the most minute of details. He has trouble reading people's reaction and often does not see that others don't share his passion.
"Magic Bus, Magic Bus, Magic Bus, Magic Bus
I want it, I want it, I want it...(You can't have it!)
Think how much you'll save...(You can't have it!)]
I want it, I want it, I want it, I want it ... (You can't have it!)" -- The Who
Once Sophie and Daniel learn about their father's Asperger's, they pitch in with their mother to work out ways around it. They post a calendar of schedules and talk about possible outcomes, such as why one might be late. They suggest that he retreat to his study with the bus models when he gets overwhelmed. Their most successful suggestion was to have their visiting aunt, uncle and cousins rent an adjacent cottage at a popular resort the family enjoys every year. In times past, Mark spoiled many would-be positive outings by going ballistic when his toddler niece, nephew and their dog ran and played noisily. Having separate cottages allowed both families to enjoy themselves.
The importance of "me-time" was included. Each character explained that they enjoyed doing individual things, such as Daniel had football, Sophie her CDs and their mother Spanish dancing with her friend. They had times where they could do their thing.
This is one of the best books about an adult character with Asperger's that I have ever encountered. It is an ideal teaching tool and it takes the stigma out of autism and provides the voice of tolerance instead.
*An aside: there is a George Harrison connection in this story that Beatle fans will immediately get. Mark's sister-in-law is named Louise and George was the son and brother of women named Louise. Mark is a bus conductor and George Harrison's father, Harold Sr. was a bus conductor/driver/bus union man for some 30 years. The name "Hargreaves" came up and that is an old family name on the Harrison side of George Harrison's family tree. George's father was Harold Hargreaves Harrison. Rabid, inveterate Beatle fans and Beatle fans on the spectrum will most likely pick up on this right away.
The Who's 1965 (recorded in 1965, released in 1968) classic "Magic Bus" is the soundtrack of this story.