Monday, September 13, 2010

From Left To Write Book Club: Cowboy and Wills


 That's my little boy Donovan over there, and our new puppy.  We've had dogs the boys' whole lives, but it's such fun to see how they treat one they met before taking home, and especially one small enough to cuddle, although mostly the play is just a bit to rough for my or Tiro's comfort, leaving Keegan, older (but not bigger) brother to attempt to save the puppy.  I'm not a huge fan of dogs I have to admit, and they've caused our share of problems, but both our our "puppies" definitely exhibit that true loyalty, that excitement over seeing us whether we've been gone days or minutes.  Watching Donovan give Tiro a bath is going to be one of the highlights of my time with these guys.  As part of the Left to Write Book Club blog, we recently (although I'm way behind) read a truly wonderful book, "Cowboy and Wills" by Monica Holloway, a story of a boy with autism and the puppy who helped him.  His mom is the author and this heartfelt and honest book made me cry and made me think.  I immediately thought of the book when I saw this little scene, as in the book Wills ends up dressing Cowboy and his other animals and forming a little school at his house.

I've been reading and hearing quite a bit about autism lately and feel like I can learn so much, not to mention  laugh.  Some of my favorite bloggers are moms of kids with autism, and I got to spend some time with them at BlogHer.  Christine of A Mommy Story recently shared some wonderful posts about her daughter starting kindergarten.  I can always count on Jean to document the pet adventures over in Stimeyland, and I had the honor of sitting next to Kari during the autism panel, moderated by Shannon Des Roches Rosa where we heard from the sister and caregiver of an adult with autism, Pamea Merritt, Jean, and Carol, who has Aspergers and a son with autism, and was bright and funny and speaks all over the world about aspergers and autism.  The other night I had to stay up pretty late and got sucked into the Temple Grandin movie, which I heard about during the Emmys.  Make a plan to watch that movie right away, I swear I cried and at one point broke into spontaneous applause, sitting alone on my couch at 3 in the morning.

Sometimes I feel I have no real reason to learn about autism, beyond wanting my family to learn that everyone is different and we all deserve respect, not to mention opportunities to excel.  When I hear about little kids getting expelled from preschool or kindergarten it sickens me.  Learning more about how people with autism learn and process information makes me think we should be able to use that learning to vastly improve our educational system.  As Christine says, "No One Said Special Needs and Smart Can't Go Together" and the Temple Grandin book, "Thinking in Pictures" that the movie is based on clearly illustrates that people with autism can learn and achieve amazing things, their brains just work differently. 

I wrote a blog post a while ago about how our current educational system and testing is not really conducive to inspiring a love of learning, much less excelling, especially in kids who need to move a lot.  My dream is to group kids by their learning styles and by their interests, let them do what they want for as long as they want, whether it's reading or math, building structures or learning everything there is to know about living things, and supporting their learning styles.  In our school the youngest kids are required to do the project, feel the rocks or play in the dirt or race the snails, before reading about the science and physics behind their experiments.  As we get older we are first expected to listen to an explanation, read about the creatures or human body, then finally do a little observing or touching.  I've had a lot of science and engineering classes, and that method may work for some, definately not for me.

I could clearly go on about this forever, but it's late and I still have another book post.  I want to thank Monica Holloway for her wonderful book about Cowboy and Wills.  She hopes others can learn from the book, I will add it's simply a great read all on its own.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of Cowboy and Wills as part of the From Left to Write blog.

1 comment:

  1. Great photos! I liked Cowboy and Wills a lot too, but it left me sobbing at the end. It was a great book.

    I love the image of you crying and clapping at 3 in the morning. I too burst into big, sobs when I watched that movie.

    Huh. I think I cry a lot. Interesting. :)