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'Alone Bird' Children's Book Brings Representation To Kids With Autism

"Alone Bird" illustration by Georgina Vaughan
Courtesy of Berry Berry Autism Publishing
Author Amelia Peace worked with illustrator Georgina Vaughn to make simple drawings for the book to help young kids stay engaged.

Reading a book with a child is one of the best ways to spend time together and connect with a story. But there isn’t a lot of representation for kids with autism spectrum disorders in children’s books. So, Milwaukee native Amelia Peace decided to change that by writing and publishing one herself.

Alone Bird follows a young girl named Tilly through a day at school. Tilly has autism and her classmates struggle to understand why she communicates and plays differently.

Peace has found it difficult at times to explain to others the challenges kids with autism, like her daughter Robyn, face daily. Peace says she decided to pull her daughter out of school and homeschool her in order to give her the best education possible. She hopes Alone Bird can serve as a loving introduction to what it means to have a child with autism and how to support them.

 Tilly Bird, the main character of 'Alone Bird', is based on difficult experiences that Peace's daughter Robin had at school due to her autism.
Courtesy of Berry Berry Autism Publishing
Tilly Bird, the main character of 'Alone Bird', is based on difficult experiences that Peace's daughter Robyn had at school due to her autism.

When Peace first wrote the story, she had no intentions of publishing it. She says writing was just an artistic outlet she used to help collect her thoughts about what was going on with her daughter.

“Writing this was more therapeutic or cathartic if you will, and once everything was placed and everything was written out, I’m like OK there’s something there,” she says.

That process of writing took about six weeks but once Peace decided she wanted to share her story, she spent seven months revising the book and getting it ready for an audience. She continued to work hoping that this book wouldn’t only talk about her daughter’s experience but help other children with autism.

“It was still bothering me how of Robyn exited the school and I felt that if people had more of an understanding of autism and children who are non-verbal with autism, maybe things will be a little bit better for the next student,” she says.

But once Peace finished Alone Bird, she struggled to find a publisher who would partner with her on the project. So, she decided to create her own publishing company called Berry Berry Autism.

Peace says she kept the book simple so that kids wouldn't get too lost or distracted while reading.

When she shared the book with her daughter Robyn, she immediately loved it. “Once I finished reading it, [Robyn] grabbed the book from me and she was like, ‘Hey, I got it from here Mom,’ and she just constantly flips through the pages and she walks around with it as if it’s her little blankie, if you will or her good luck charm. So I’m very proud,” she says.

In talking with other parents, Peace says she tries to wear her heart on her sleeve and show others that struggling is a normal part of parenting while encouraging people to seek help and resources.

“As you’re going through this journey, it is OK to feel the things that you’re feeling. Try not to let that stop you from making sure your child has the best outcome in life,” she says.

Audrey Nowakowski hosts and produces Lake Effect. She joined WUWM in 2014.
From 2020 to 2021, Jack was WUWM's digital intern and then digital producer.
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