Recently, I was given a book called, "Different Drummers," by Don Caron & Lyle Hatcher, and it became my autism-therapy-waiting-r0om-book-to-read.
"Different Drummers" is a wonderful story, well written, heartwarming. It is a story from Lyle Hatcher's childhood, of a child with attention challenges and hyperactivity during a time when the world did not understand those children. Lyle Hatcher happens to have been the first child to be prescribed Ritalin in Spokane, Washington, although this is not a story about that. It's a story about Lyle and his friendship with a boy who happens to be confined to a wheelchair due to muscular dystrophy. The story synopsis is HERE. Excerpts are available HERE.
The story touches me on many levels.
I was a child once. The authors take me inside Lyle's mind, and I understand him. I had classmates who were very much like Lyle. I had big dreams like Lyle. Lyle pulled off some of his grandiose ideas (and I did not-I wish I'd been more like him). I think anyone who has ever been a child will identify with Lyle. ;)
Lyle's friendship with David is precious. Lyle never sees David as disabled. Lyle simply loves his best friend; David loves Lyle, too. (I long for my daughter who is on the autism spectrum to have friendships like this one.) Everyone except the principal of the elementary school saw how important the two boy were to one another.
Lyle's mother is an inspiration to me. She understands her son and is an incredible advocate for him. "There is nothing wrong with you. Nothing at all. You just have a little extra. A little more than other people. You know what I mean. You need to channel it into something positive. Something good, that's all you really need to do." she tells Lyle when he has been grounded yet again.
I had the privilege of meeting Lyle Hatcher and Don Caron at a biomedical conference about treating autism. Seems AMAB founder Dr. Phillip DeMio was so impressed with the story that he invited the duo to speak at the conference.
The story is moving; the writers did an incredible job weaving Lyle's tale of ups and downs, keeping me interested and wondering what would happen next. The text is "clean", family-friendly, appropriate for children, too, with no cursing and no adult themes. It would make a great read-aloud. There are lots of opportunities for self-to-text comparisons. I felt uplifted when I finished the last page; I suspect you will, too.