My friend lives in a world by himself.
Sometimes, he lets me join him.
Sometimes, he doesn’t.

My friend is like the sun.
Sometimes, he shines.
Sometimes, he disappears to a place I can’t see.

My friend is like a puppy dog.
Sometimes, he listens to what I say.
Sometimes, he just doesn’t understand.

My friend is like Abraham Lincoln.
Sometimes, people are amazed by his honesty.
Sometimes, they are angered by it.

My friend is like an Encyclopedia.
Sometimes, all his knowledge is very impressive.
Sometimes, I get bored and want to put him aside.

My friend lives in a world by himself.
Sometimes, I invite him to join my world.
Sometimes, he joins for awhile.

Jackson Whole Wyoming

Oh, what a story this was to write! I was totally inspired by a very special student. For 6 years we worked together at least twice a week, and often more. When he left to go to middle school, I lost a little part of my life that I needed to hold onto…and so the writing began. Early on, when working with my student, I decided one thing I needed to do was help his peers understand and accept him. With that in mind, I decided to write this from the perspective of a classmate.

And so it is that Tyler Carson- fifth grader, stutterer and fellow classmate/speech student- ends up telling the story of his last week with Jackson Thomas, his friend who has Asperger Syndrome. Tyler was voted by his class to give Jackson the gift they all made for him on Jackson’s last day of school. He is moving across the country with his family. Tyler is unsure about why he was voted to do this. Does Jackson’s unusual ways mean that the class thinks Tyler is odd too? He needs to resolve his personal insecurities, but it’s difficult to do. The story he tells flashes back through Tyler’s school career with Jackson. What happens? You’ll have to read to find out!

This book has been read to many a class, with overwhelmingly positive responses. Because it spans school grades from kindergarten to fifth grade, there are a variety of incidents that reflect the different demands of the grades, both socially and academically. Typical children develop knowledge about the child with Asperger Syndrome. It is wonderful to watch their understanding grow.

If you are interested in doing a book study on this book. Mary Schleider has created a wonderful set of questions in her book, With Open Arms: Creating School Communities of Support for Kids with Social Challenges Using Circle of Friends, Extracurricular Activities, and Learning Teams . You can get this book (which also has some wonderful book study questions on other children’s novels) through the Autism Asperger Publishing Company