Sammamish author aims to raise awareness around kids with autism through children’s books

For many, parenting is a difficult journey.

But according to Laura Hales, Sammamish local and author of two autism awareness children’s books, when you have a child on the spectrum, it can add an extra level of intensity.

“There are more questions that we have to dig around deeper to find answers for, but the wonderful perspective that they carve out of you is just unbelievable,” Hales told KIRO 7.

That perspective plays a key part in Hale’s books, Alex and the Drummer and Alex and the Muffin Man. The idea is to raise awareness while teaching children to imagine scenarios from an autistic character’s point of view.

“Maybe there are some lights or sounds that are sensory-wise overwhelming my kid, and he’s doing the best he can in this situation, but maybe his physical reaction is to yell our shout,” Hales said. “It’s called stimming, a physical way to self-regulate the nervous system.”

Hales lives in Virginia now but travels to different schools in the country, sharing her books based on real-life situations she’s had with her son.

She hopes to have children understand what their peers on the spectrum might be going through and to recognize and embrace the differences between neurotypical children and children on the spectrum. Rather than point out differences, Hales focuses on explaining perspective, which leads to acceptance.

“Once you understand the whys, suddenly it all makes sense and you’re sitting right in there with that character and you’re saying, ‘Of course he’d be so upset, of course he’d be distressed, and apparently this is how he expressed that distress,’” Hales said.

The context and setup of Hales’ books are what make them so unique. She never once mentions autism in the books and leaves the reader to ask questions and form their own understanding based on context clues.

This was a decision she says makes her books stand out and will hopefully create acceptance through the readers’ own understanding.

“And then suddenly you have communities made up of individuals who are changing their behavior and perspective about my kids,” Hales said.