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How This Book By an Autistic Author Can Help Kids on the Spectrum

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I recently was sent a copy of “Ty the Dinosaur and the Substitute Teacher.” As the parent of a child on the autistic spectrum, I’m always on the lookout for books and resources that provide the unique insight needed to a child trying to navigate today’s world. Especially given the pandemic, remote learning, and teachers potentially being out sick, there are many changes to everyone’s routines. Those on the spectrum tend to have difficulty processing the disruption.

When Ty, who is the protagonist in the book and on the autistic spectrum, arrives at school, he gets worried because the usual teacher is out sick. The substitute doesn’t keep the class under control and Ty gets very frustrated. He is so frustrated that he ends up fighting with a classmate and is sent to the principal’s office. But instead of getting into trouble, Ty receives some good advice, which makes his day better. It’s rare to find a book that addresses how those on the spectrum may react to their beloved teacher being absent, and after reading it, it’s clear that it was written with great thought and empathy.

The Story Behind Ty the Dinosaur

Written by Jill C. Faulkner with Marcus Tallberg and illustrated by Klaudia Drabikowska, the book allows the reader to tag along for a rough day at school for Ty, a kid dinosaur who has autism.

Asked how “Ty the Dinosaur and the Substitute Teacher” came to be, co-author and publisher Marcus Tallberg explains, “I took a job as a coordinator for a company that helps clients get the right personal assistant or companion. I organized an education night where I invited a woman with autism named Jill Faulkner to speak about her experience. After her lecture, I asked her why she hadn’t written a book about it. She said she couldn’t write. I said, ‘But I can write! Is it OK if I make a draft? Have you read it, and then we will see how it goes?’ She agreed, and the result was ‘Ty the Dinosaur and the Substitute Teacher,’ which we wrote together.”

Faulkner was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome at 10 years old. She was outspoken, often angry, and very violent. “The vast majority of adults looked at me and saw a child who did not want to behave properly. They did not understand that there was more to it than meets the eye. They never saw my overcharging or when my energy ran out because the environment was messy. They did not see my inability to handle change or how I struggled to answer a question correctly. They only saw the anger that exploded when I did not have the strength left to fight in a world that is not built for those who are as sensitive as I am.”

“The story in this book is based on real experiences from a real school student – me!” said co-author Faulkner.

At present, Faulkner lives “a fully functioning life,” thanks to years of therapy and the love and support of her parents. In addition to being an author, she is one of a dozen lecturers on the Tallbergs Förlag roster and regularly speaks to children, parents, and teachers about autism with warmth, love and humor.

Plans for Ty in the Future

Though just a tiny window into the world of autism, Faulkner and Tallberg’s “Ty the Dinosaur and the Substitute Teacher” with its simple storyline, charming illustrations, and cute little Ty, is a book not just for children ages 6 – 11 years, but also for their parents and teachers.

The next book is about Ty’s friend Stego, who is in a wheelchair, and personally, I’m excited to read it.

Buy “Ty the Dinosaur and the Substitute Teacher” on Amazon.

Originally published: May 20, 2021
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