Do you have a child with Autism? Do you have a child with complex communication needs? Are you an educator that wants to raise awareness of different types of learners and disabilities?

When I was recently teaching a graduate class about AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication), one of my students recommended this book, Rules. That night I came home and purchased it online. I read the book in about one day and was engaged in both the storyline and valuable lessons that could be learned from reading this book. This book is excellent for both at home reading but even better for a classroom in a academic environment.

Rules is written from the perspective of twelve year old Catherine, who has a brother with Autism. Throughout the book, Catherine lists various rules for David to help him navigate his world better. Some of Catherine’s rules for David are “Sometimes people laugh when they like you. But sometimes they laugh to hurt you.” Another rule is “It’s fine to hug Mom, but not the clerk at the video store.”

Life is difficult for Catherine because she often feels overwhelmed by her brother’s Autism and feels alone in her world because of the constant needs of her brother. As the story develops, she learns the appreciate her responsiblities of being his sister and learns to appreciate his differences.

Catherine goes weekly with her mother and brother to David’s occcupational therapy appointment because she likes the private time with her mother when David is in therapy. During that time in the waiting room, she meets Jason a boy with complex communication needs that uses a communication book as his primary means of communication. During her first interaction with Jason, she sketches a picture of him and immediately gets negative feedback from Jason’s mother because she never asked for his permission before sketching him. After feeling embarrassed, she decides to take this opportunity to interact with Jason and begin a beautiful friendship with him. She learns about his disability, but most importantly she learns about who he is as a person and how his disability does not define him. As a speech language pathologist who specializes in field of AAC, I appreciated this book because of Catherine’s role in being a dedicated sister to David and learning about true friendship with Jason. As part of the development in friendship with Jason, she plays a very important role in the development of words and pictures for Jason’s communication book. She learns about how important descriptive words are such as “Awesome” and “Dazzling” but also how negative words  are vital to communication.

Rules should be a required read for both students in intermediate school but also for graduate students in the field of speech language pathology.

Are you an educator? Check out this resources provided by the author, Cynthia Lord. To learn more about Cynthia click here.

Discussion Guide

Reproducible Worksheets


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