Floppy Lop-Ears isn’t your typical bunny. His life requires very specific routines. He only has a few articles of clothing that he tolerates. There are only certain foods he’ll eat, and he must have green gelatin at lunch. He has trouble making friends and gets picked on at school. When things are right, he is an intelligent bunny who is capable of incredible feats of memorizing even the smallest details of whatever subject he’s interested in at the moment (like dinosaurs). But, when something isn’t right, Floppy can erupt in outbursts that frequently end with Floppy rocking himself until he is calm enough for things to get back to normal.
Does Floppy sound familiar to you? As the father of a son with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Floppy sounds very familiar to me. In fact, he could be named Bill or Suzy or the name of any one of the numerous children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder every year.
Dr. Flynn’s debut children’s book follows Floppy and his parents as they try to find help for Floppy so that he can cope with the unexpected when it occurs and to try and help him fit in better at school. The resulting diagnosis and Floppy’s attempt to get off the spectrum give helpful insights to those who love and care for folks with ASD in terms that are simple for us to understand. Passages like “Floppy got a funny feeling in his tummy, like it was becoming as hard as a stone.” and “Floppy imagined himself standing in the cafeteria looking at bowls of red gelatin instead of green gelatin, while his legs started to melt like ice cream.” help to paint a picture for both parents and children alike. And, as eye-opening as the book can be for parents, it is invaluable in helping children on the spectrum to see that they are not alone.
The book’s tone and Flynn’s writing style evoke books like Berenstain Bears Go to the Doctor and Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food. What I mean is that the information is relatable to children and the facts are medically accurate, but they only serve as an introduction to the world of health. That’s not at all a bad thing. In fact, the books cited are a good entry point for children to a larger world of health. In the same way, Floppy Lop-Ears Tries to Get “Off the Spectrum” is an entry into the world, mind, and body of someone living on the spectrum. For parents, it could serve as that “ah ha” moment that opens them up to all of the medically reviewed Autism information available.
Dr. Flynn should know what it’s like to be Floppy, seeing as how she is on the spectrum herself. Flynn’s perspective of living on the spectrum is insightful in that it sheds light on how it feels to cope with ASD, which can be particularly beneficial to parents, teachers, and caregivers who struggle to understand why their child acts the way he or she does at times. Flynn fills the back pages of the book with more information for parents–things like what defines an Autism Spectrum Disorder, how to help cope with meltdowns, people who have changed the course of human history who are suspected of having been on the spectrum, and what doesn’t cause ASD (here it is in black and white, folks: a pediatrician on the spectrum telling you to go get your kids vaccinated).
Floppy Lop-Ears Tries to Get “Off the Spectrum” is a great read for anyone who has a child who has received an ASD diagnosis or who suspects their child may be struggling with such. I think it would be a welcome addition to every pediatrician’s waiting room or exam room and should practically be required in every preschool, kindergarten, and first grade classroom. The insights into what it is like to be different from one’s peers and how to treat people who are different are valuable not only as they relate to people with ASD, but for how each of us should treat one another, regardless of whether we’re on the spectrum or not.
You can purchase your copy of Floppy Lop-Ears Tries to Get “Off the Spectrum” in the format of your choice at Amazon.