Sunday, September 2, 2007

Smarty Sunday Book Recommendation: Souls (Beneath And Beyond Autism)

Well I guess I'll just make Smarty Saturday into Smarty Sunday on a permanent basis, because I almost always end up working on Saturdays and don't have a chance to write a blog entry in the morning!
This week, I'd like to recommend a book I'm sure many of you have heard of. Its called Souls: Beneath And Beyond Autism.
Thomas Balsamo is a very talented photographer who works out of Barrington, IL, a suburb of Chicago. (Coincedentally, his studio is only about twenty minutes away from where I live!) He is known for his portraits of people... including famous people. (But I personally think his best photos are the ones of children, or mothers and babies!)
In 1999 Balsamo was asked to take some portraits of two children, a brother and a sister. The brother had autism. The children's mother apoke to Balsamo a lot about autism, particularly about how to best work with her son in order to capture his true self on camera. The mother was, in fact, an expert... she had originally worked as a Speech and Language Pathologist with brain injured adults, but when she found out that her young son had autism, she had steered her career towards helping children with autism and their families.
The meeting between Balsamo and this mother, Sharon Rosenbloom, resulted in the creation of a beautiful book about autism. Balsamo began photographing children with autism, as well as their siblings and parents. He used his special talent and his new knowledge about autism to bring out the very essence of each child in the photographs. Rosenbloom added her poetic writing, describing the experience of having a child with autism, and speculating on the experience of being a child with autism. Together, they made this book that is more like a piece of art than a regular book!
If you have a child who has autism, or work with children with autism, this might be a nice book to have around your house or classroom, to share with others who perhaps do not know as much about autism as you have come to know. And even if you do not have children with autism in your life, this book is a great way to learn more about autism. Many people know a little about autism because they've heard about it in the news or they've seen autistic characters in movies. But this book allows the reader to look into the eyes of children with autism, and see this "disease" in a different light.
Check this book out, and let me know what you think!

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